Irreconcilable differences

· 1 min read

The world of personal development and self-help has two main flavors. Each is believed to be The Way by its many followers. I will call them: "toxic positivity" and "suffer more."

Don't say "problems", say "challenges". Repeat every morning: "I am loved. I am happy. I am safe". You are the one in control of your happiness. Choose positive emotions. Let go of negative people. Create your own reality... Spewing positivity 24/7; judging you for being sad and afraid of being afraid they will send you a YouTube video with a happiness meditation by Joe Dispenza. I dub them "toxic positivity."

The diametrically opposite worldview sees all negative emotions as an opportunity for "shadow work." Feel the agonizing loneliness all the way through until the emotion exhausts itself like a crying baby. The only reason you are feeling it now is that you didn't allow yourself to feel it fully in the past.  Your emotions are not something you can choose.  Adepts of this philosophy believe that they are making progress in personal growth every time they hit a major emotional trigger or depression. The only way out is through.

The two ways of looking at the world appear to be irreconcilable. For years I've been learning to reframe my suffering as progress. And while I still can't tolerate toxic positivity, I wonder sometimes, if orienting my mind towards what feels good can be ... good?