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Toxic Positivity Only Holds Our Masks in Place
We've been faking it until we make it for long enough. Let's stop.
I’m going to start with this right out of the gate, so you know my heart. The Lucky Girl Syndrome or any iteration of empowerment through delusion is pure and utter horseshit. Okay. That felt good. I have some explaining to do, don’t I?
When I started to see the phenomenon pop us, I was annoyed. Then I was concerned. Then I was a bit angry. For those of you not in the know, it’s a trend where millions of (mostly young white) women make videos telling themselves they are lucky and only good things come to them. And then they just sit and expect it to work magic.
And we’re ALL supposed to do this. Actually, men, I don’t know what you’re supposed to do. Apparently, your gender has determined that you just fumble around the world. Yeah, I’d feel cheated too, my dudes. It’s okay to be annoyed by that. I promise.
It took me a hot minute to figure out why this annoys the holy ever-loving hell out of me. And then it hit me. Oh yeah, I have ADHD. There’s a connection.
The TL;DR up front? Any form of toxic positivity does far more harm than good to neurodivergent people who have struggled their entire lives to have any shred of belief in themselves and have faked happiness and normalcy for ages.
On top of the obvious, toxic positivity is bothersome to me as someone with ADHD for a few reasons.
I have been a passive participant in my life for too damn long
I went 40 years undiagnosed. This whole time, I felt like I was not in control of my life. My life was controlled by a force beyond myself that did not understand. It was a great unknown.
I look back at my life and feel like so much of what happened was beyond my control and not in a good way. I feel a sense of loss and sorrow when I think about my 22-year career and what could have been if only I had known that my brain was different and found a way to work with it instead of it working against me.
I have no interest in spending another minute of my life leaving my fate and happiness in the hands of some unknown force that is supposed to bless me with good fortune based on nothing more than my own existence. No thanks. I would like to actively participate in my own life.
It perpetuates an all-too-familiar idea that’s never really helped
Toxic positivity requires us to believe something that isn’t true until we believe it’s true. It is the extreme of faking it until you’re making it. If we put on a happy face and pretend everything is just fine, everything will be just fine. What? No!
This the exactly what so many of us who have spent most of our lives masking have been doing.
So, no Lauren, I am not going to sit here while your 23-year-old neurotypical ass tells me that the key to getting what I want in life requires me to be delusional. Hard no on that.
The lack of presence of good things in my life is not due to “bad luck”
I can honestly say that the biggest obstacle I have faced in moving my life in the direction that I want is a self-sabotaging level of imposter syndrome that convinces me that no matter what I would attempt, I would fail miserably so there is no use in trying it anyway. That’s some real shit.
And here’s the thing about the imposter syndrome that so many of us face: we can’t just “positive think” it away. We can’t just look ourselves in the mirror every day and tell ourselves we’re lucky and we’re going to feel better magically.
We have to firmly believe we are worthy of good things, and that isn’t going to come to us magically either. Many of us have spent years in therapy trying to undo an even higher number of years of pain. Pretending that could have been cured by just “thinking pretty thoughts” flies in the face of that hard work.
Manifesting doesn’t fix our self-esteem and self-worth
The exhausting truth is that we’re not going to stop getting in our own damn way, letting imposter syndrome hold us back, and sabotaging our lives if we don’t do the work to fix the core of the issue: ADHD shattered our self-worth.
And that is not our fault. We are not to blame for that. But, it is our obligation to understand what serves us well and what does not and self-sabotage never helped a damn soul.
The difficulty of any manifesting (The Secret, Lucky Girl Syndrome, etc.) is that there is nothing connected to us in any way that makes us active participants in our lives. I want to feel like I have some sort of level of control over my life.
I’m over the idea of trying to sit in the back seat of a car I’m actually driving.
The hope we can hold onto in bringing good things into our lives to understand our own worth, stand solidly in who we are in the most beautiful, authentic, and messy way, and find what aligns with that.
The key to that is letting ourselves be who we are, unapologetically. I’m here for that. It may take a lot of work to get there, but I have my hands on the wheel, and I’m staying on the road.
*If you’re interested, I am doing a live 1-hour workshop on February 11th at 1pm MST all about abundance mindset (actually positivity) and how we can kick imposter syndrome to the kick and figure out how to actually make our lives our own.
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