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Self concept, emotional invalidation and toxic positivity

Creativeboy23Creativeboy23 Posts: 188 Helping Hand

I have struggled with my self-concept again - feeling isolated and like people are against me. This has resulted in the following situations. I questioned how I cleaned an electrical appliance and remembered when my support worker told me I did not need to worry about cleaning because I am usually clean. So, I imagined that a particular mental health helpline volunteer encouraged me to listen to him. This thought was identical to when she told me to move on and focus on the present after I opened up to her about some troubling memories. Her comment made me feel invalidated, and that the emotional pain from past experiences are unimportant. I remembered when a team member from a personal developmental programme would single me out in front of the other members. My inner critic told me to share how I felt so I can forget about it since people in the past have told me to move on from things that have upset me, which came across as invalidating. Whether that was intended or not, it does not change the fact that it felt invalidating. So, I felt I did something wrong by wanting to open up about my feelings A therapist gave me constructive criticism about mind-reading what others are thinking. My manager I used to work with told me not to panic about something etc. I have self-doubted sharing how these memories have made me feel. I played a scenario of expressing to another helpline volunteer that I felt her comments were a criticism of me and determined my self-worth. This is because similar situation with the helpline volunteers of the service have happened. My last university mentor would give advice which came across patronising.

I have experienced toxic positivity, where people try to be overly reassuring, which can make me feel like I should not express my feelings. It can feel like a distraction from my feelings, instead of providing comfort. When others encourage me to consider other perspectives of a troubling situation, it can seem like they are dismissing my emotions and suggesting that I should feel differently than I do.

I have felt my feelings are unacceptable when people have told me I have taken what someone said or done personally.


  • amy02amy02 Moderator Posts: 105 The Mix Convert
    Hi @Creativeboy23 I'm sorry to hear you're struggling with this, I can really hear how isolating it can be when trying to express your emotions <3 Just checking in to see how you've been the past couple of days?

    It's really great that you feel able to share everything with us and I hope getting it down and venting your feelings is somewhat helpful for you. Your emotions are of course valid and deserve to be listened to :3 I'm sure others are in their own way trying to be supportive and helpful when offering different perspectives, so try not to let that put you off sharing your experiences with them.

    If you feel comfortable with it, sometimes it may be worthwhile to let the other person know that first you're looking for a space to talk and for comforting support, before then taking some advice <3
  • Creativeboy23Creativeboy23 Posts: 188 Helping Hand

    Hello @amy02.

    I understand that others are trying to be supportive and helpful when offering different perspectives, but it does not feel like that for me. It feels dismissive and like I should feel differently than I do, regardless of their intention. I think you have not acknowledged that it is reasonable for me to feel put off from sharing my feelings when I have experienced invalidation and how it may feel dismissive when others get me to look at the bigger picture. I feel criticised for feeling put off. I know that you did not intend to make me feel these feelings and do not want me to believe that I cannot express them. I feel hurt regardless.

    I have not been feeling great. I felt overwhelmed today. I have been feeling that I still have to look for a job even though I am concerned about the impact it may have on my benefits and income. My employment advisor told me that it would only affect my benefits temporarily when I did not want it to at all.

    I will try to keep that in mind.
  • JustVJustV Community Manager Posts: 5,301 Part of The Furniture
    edited March 5
    Heeey @Creativeboy23, just popping in to follow up on how you felt about Amy's post.

    I understand you felt dismissed by what she said, or at least not validated in the way you wanted to be. The way you feel is always valid and reasonable, because none of us control our emotional responses to things. You feel how you feel for legitimate reasons (whatever they may be) and nobody has the right to say that that's wrong or whatever. :)

    I wonder if two things can be true at once here - someone can be well intentioned and not necessarily do anything wrong, and you can understandably feel hurt by what they say. I don't think you would disagree with that but wanted to highlight it for this discussion.

    For probably most people, their instinctive urge when trying to help someone is to either fix their situation or get them to 'look on the bright side'. I think sometimes people are also trying to sincerely share their perspective on someone else's actions with you if they think you've misinterpreted them, but if that doesn't come with active listening and empathy, it can feel like they've invalidated how you feel.

    It's really relatable and I imagine lots of folks here would have felt the same way before - it can be frustrating to be on the recieving end of that 'toxic positivity' as you said.
    amy02 wrote: »
    If you feel comfortable with it, sometimes it may be worthwhile to let the other person know that first you're looking for a space to talk and for comforting support, before then taking some advice <3
    I would echo this. Most people out in the world tend not to be good at just listening without trying to fix your situation (which can be frustrating!), so making it clear that you don't want advice or solutions before talking to someone can help communicate what you need. :)
    All behaviour is a need trying to be met.
  • Creativeboy23Creativeboy23 Posts: 188 Helping Hand

    Hello @JustV.

    Thanks. Well said.
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