The New Culture of Positivity

I would be interested in other people's responses please and thank you.  

I have noticed that somehow it has become almost a sin to not be positive all the time. People are not just encouraged to be positive which I think is a good thing, but are shamed or blamed if they are "negative" which is not a good thing.    

For many trauma survivors this behavior can be triggering and retraumatizing since many survivors have been taught for years to ignore their feelings,  and/or that no one wants to hear what you are feeling.  

It is very hard to be positive all the time when you have PTSD or Complex PTSD and maybe panic attacks, depression and anxiety.  Plus possibly physical issues also that may have come from past abuse or other trauma.  

When people are kind and supportive it can actually help you to shift your energy and be more positive.  I think that telling people that they "should" be grateful and positive no matter what is counter productive and causes more problems.  

I think this happens because so many people have trouble dealing with the pain of others.  Many times it triggers their own unresolved pain and if they can tell someone else not to be where they are, then they can ignore their own issues.  

Being positive is very beneficial and has many health benefits.  I just think that instead of trying to make people be where they are not, how about accepting them and supporting them where they are?

Thoughts about this?  

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Hi Diane, I wanted to respond to your comment,  I used EFT as a therapist sometimes but called it "coping skills" (which it is and after I explained it if the client wanted to learn I would teach it but due to insurance you had to call it that) since it is not Evidenced Based yet, only research based,  TFT is though.  I am a Reiki Master.  Neat to have the same background.  I only do Energy and Holistic healing work with animals and people now and some Life Coaching.  I also use and teach about the chakras, crystals, some Shamanic techniques, acupressure points, essential oils and flower essences, some TTouch (mostly on animals), health coaching about healthy and natural alternatives especially for the animals, and some other methods depending on what is needed.  The specialization in trauma is also about adult trauma although as you probably know many adults that have trauma as an adult also had it as a child.  Isn't it funny how "energy healing" became "Energy Psychology" as though it makes it more legitimate?  It is like letters after a name, some people feel the more the better so that they will trust you.  I think that is interesting but whatever works!  Nice to "meet" you!  

Hi Susan... Interesting that we have the same clinical background. I, too, use a mind/body/spirit approach (I'm also a level II Reiki practitioner although I don't use that with my insurance-based psychotherapy clients for ethical reasons), routinely use energy psychology techniques and also have an expertise in childhood trauma. It's a pleasure to meet you and I look forward to interacting with you more!



Hi Diane.  Thanks for your comment.  I agree with you and also was a psychotherapist for 25 years.  My specialty is trauma and at least the last 10 years of that experience,  I practiced Holistically.  It seems like people started to heal more quickly when the approaches were Holistic.  I am a survivor as well.  A positive attitude and gratitude are very important for healing.  I try to encourage people to reframe and look at any positive there may be, when they are ready to accept it. What I was addressing are the people who try to shame others for being "negative" or try to get them to be at a point that they are not at, instead of accepting where they are.  I have found that meeting people where they are with compassion and acceptance can help them to move to where they can be.  It is awesome that we can all share on this forum!

Hi Susan... Thanks for addressing this topic. I appreciate your post and agree that a stance of positivity is not always useful—and sometimes is harmful. I also think that there's a backlash to positivity and a misunderstanding about how to use it.

When I read (or write) articles promoting the development of a positive outlook, I don't perceive this as encouraging people to deny their feelings. I don't think people are saying that being positive is the remedy for emotional pain.

As a psychotherapist (and someone who experienced a childhood trauma), I understand the importance of feeling your feelings. When someone is depressed the last thing they need is pressure to "think positively" or judgment when they can't.

At the same time, positive psychology approaches are important, too. We see what we look for. Sometimes a simple change in focus—be that a more positive outlook, hopeful perspective, or grateful heart—can make a profound difference. To me it's about holding your pain, taking in comfort and, when ready, opening yourself to shift your perspective. It's about authenticity and balance.

My two cents. Thanks again for addressing this.

Thanks Danielle for your comment.  We are indeed responsible for our own feelings and it is helpful when others validate us but not necessary.  Unfortunately, not everyone is at the point where they know this.  I think when dealing with recovery from trauma it is essential to advocate for others as well as for ourselves.  From a spiritual holistic perspective whenever one person achieves some healing, it heals the world too.  

My vote is for authenticity. I’d just really appreciate people having the courage and decency to be authentic. I can deal with whatever so-called “negative” or “positive” state they are in because I’m responsible for my own feelings. 

Susan Pollard posted:

Thanks Karen.  I actually just finished writing a book on Holistic ways to recover from PTSD.  I have sent 2 book proposals and am hoping to hear positive news about publication very soon.  It is based on my 25 years as a trauma specialist and over 10 years doing Energy Psychology (Energy Healing) work.  

The books sounds like it will be fantastic. Please keep sharing your writing and all you've learned! Cissy

Thanks Karen.  I actually just finished writing a book on Holistic ways to recover from PTSD.  I have sent 2 book proposals and am hoping to hear positive news about publication very soon.  It is based on my 25 years as a trauma specialist and over 10 years doing Energy Psychology (Energy Healing) work.  

Hi Susan, I like your writing style - open and engaging with the reader. Regarding your topic, I know when I’ve felt extra down or depressed-reading over simplified “stay positive” messages only served to remind me that I was not psychologically capable of simply “looking on the bright side”. Thank you for bringing this conversation to our ACEs Connection community. Karen 

Thanks Carey and I am glad that you understand.  And I appreciate everyone else's comments too.  The answer to hate and fear is Love and More Love.  Survivors do not usually feel safe and have not been taught their worth and value.  Learning to love and support yourself is an essential and sometimes very hard and time consuming step. 

Great post, Susan. Spot on. I notice more and more that the disconnect between my reality and that of another is the nexus of POTENTIAL for pain. My reality didn’t jibe with that of my family, and especially doesn’t today as some don’t see the problem with what I and most perceive to be mysogony, racism, sexism. That schism can really make for trauna. That’s why I believe now, more than ever, our ability to create our own safe place within ourselves is all the more important. It has to be created, nurtured, protected, celebrated, loved, cherished. Defying or denying it with platitudes weakens it, if there is some sad in that safe place. The safe place values truth above all. Acknowledging sadness, fear, whatever, and releasing it,  when it is truly “right” , is what will keep the safe place safe. Yes?