toxic positivity

When the Dust Settles: Avoiding Gaslighting, Toxic Positivity, & External Validation

Written by Megan Bayles Bartley, MAMFT, LMFT

In Julio Vincent Gambuto’s brilliant article, “Prepare for the Ultimate Gaslighting” we see that the treadmill we’ve been on for a decade has abruptly stopped. When life returns to “normal” or some semblance of a “new normal” the economy is going to need a huge boost and we will be sold a lie that we need stuff to soothe ourselves from the trauma we’ve experienced due to COVID-19.

Gambuto’s article refers to Gaslighting as: “Manipulation into doubting your own sanity.” The example he gives is, “Carl made Mary think she was crazy, even though she clearly caught him cheating. He gaslit her.”

The last several weeks of realizing that the treadmill is broken and there’s no way we’re ever getting back on it has been a traumatic experience whether we realize it yet or not. While we’re “in” the traumatic experience we go into survival mode (fight, flight, or freeze) to get through it. It’s not until the trauma has stopped and things go ‘back to normal” that we begin to see the effects of trauma unfold.

Most of us are quite resilient and will recover from the isolation of this pandemic just fine. Some of us will be shaken up for a while and need help getting our bearings. If this is you, therapy can be extremely helpful. Look for a wonderful therapist who will validate your experience and allow you to move beyond it as you are ready. Don’t get caught up in toxic positivity which forces you to think that if you aren’t “staying positive” something’s wrong with you. That’s a load of shit. You are human and your moods are watery, shifting and changing with the tides. A good therapist helps you make friends with the ocean so you can navigate it and find the balance that is best for you in each new moment as you ride the wave of life.

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