Toxic Positivity and Supression of Emotions in times of Covid-19
One of the first works of a young child in childhood is the construction of their own personality. An integral part of this process of construction is the understanding of “basic emotions” such as frustration, anger, sadness, happiness, excitement, being overwhelmed etc…
To learn about emotions, the child first needs to experience them, and, be allowed to express emotions in their environment, without being shamed e.g. “Oh, don’t cry. It’s not the end of the world,” “You are being over-sensitive,” “Don’t be silly” or “Toughen up.” On being allowed to experience these emotions, it is with the help of a conscious and caring adult, that the child will absorb strategies to manage emotions, based on their capabilities and level of maturity.
Childhood is a window of opportunity for an individual to understand many aspects of life — one of which is their emotions. If a child has had the opportunity to truly ‘live’ his/hers emotions during this beautiful window created by nature, then, later in life, not only are they going to be in a secure state of mind and have good self -respect, but they would have also had the opportunity to build an important and necessary characteristic for the formation of a healthy society : Empathy.
Ignoring this window of opportunity and rushing this natural stage of a child’s life could lead to a plethora of consequences, one of the which would be — The formation of an adult that lacks empathy.
Adult’s Emotions in times of Covid-19
Have you seen chickens that have been overfed to hasten the growth process? Yes, they do grow, however, consequently, this fast-paced growth often brings about abnormalities.
Every stage/phase that exists in nature has a reason and must be respected. This is true not just for children but for everything in nature, and that includes the adults.
Let us now connect the child’s example with a stage that we might be ignoring and will surely have some consequences.
Let us talk about the grown-ups in times of COVID-19. During this situation of the pandemic, people are trying to find themselves in one of the 5 stages of what Elisabeth Kubler-Ross calls the grief cycle. These five stages include — Denial, Anger, Depression, Bargaining, and Acceptance. Have you found yours? If you think you have, are you aware of the importance of living every stage in its totality? Are you allowing yourself and people around you to truly live each stage?
Stop for a moment! Be aware of your own emotions, for real. Are you suppressing some of them? Have you been respecting your own feelings and more than that, allowing people around you to express their real feelings, their ups and downs?
If you are a leader or a role model for someone
It is time to observe the signs that individuals are displaying. If you know that someone in your group may be feeling emotions that are considered in our society as “negative”, do not shame them through the use of toxic positivity strategies, e.g. “Look on the bright side. Can’t you see, this probably happened for a good reason?” or “You should have known better. Get over it. Don’t let it get to you.”
Instead, consider welcoming every feeling, respecting and supporting the stage that they may be in, and if possible, work kindly through it with them. Help them to find simple strategies to cope according to their level of sensitiveness.
There is no need to fix anything e.g. “Why don’t you try doing this, or that? I think you should just ignore that so-and-so.” On the contrary, support their voices to find their own solutions
No one is sure on what will happen in the coming days, months or years. However, it is very likely that this uncertainty will bring long-term chaos, if, individuals have not had the opportunity to use the right time to experience and live the stages of grief.
The basis of a healthy society in the future lies in those children that have their foundation in an environment of acceptance, love, and compassion.
The basis of the solutions for a society post Covid-19 lies in those individuals that have been allowed to build a strong foundation through their own experience and a true acceptance of own feelings.
Diversity of feelings and thoughts will bring different perspectives.
It is these individuals, that together, will create solutions that organisations and society will desperately need.
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I would like to recommend the work of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, David Kessler, Maria Shriver on Grief and Grieving — The Five Stages of Loss
and Maria Montessori on Four Planes of Development
Also, find bellow a great video about Toxic Positivity
Alessandra Fonseca is a People & Change consultant and a Montessori teacher with an authentic passion for the scientific study of humans. Alessandra believes that transformation of society and a best future for the workforce will be achieved through the reform of education and conscious leadership.
Connect with me via LinkedIn or via email firstname.lastname@example.org
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0). To see a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.