08-27-2020 11:02 AM
08-27-2020 11:02 AM
There's been a lot of talk around the concept of "toxic positivity" (https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/toxic-positivity-mental-health-covid/2020/08/19/5d...) - what are your thoughts on this especially in a work setting? I have heard from community folks in other countries (especially in tradition-steeped Asian cities like Japan and Korea) where this is a consistent pressure to make it look like everything is great, never showing any "cracks" and keeping a smile on at all times. What advice would you give to folks who experience this pressure in the workplace, and how can they find outlets to cope with it?
08-27-2020 11:45 AM
I used to be a lot like that. I put a brave face on things and kept stresses and struggles internal. Then I broke down. It was the weirdest thing - my anxiety manifests itself physically, at least that's how it feels. I thought that there was something seriously wrong with me. Turns out it was my first panic attack. Took me a long time to accept that this is what it was, but medication and counselling helped me through. Talking is the best medicine, and people are willing to listen.
Now I immediately speak up if I recognize any of the signs that I'm stressed or anxious. Only the other week in fact I needed to ask for help and take a break. I encourage anyone to reach out for help if you are in the same position.
08-27-2020 11:56 AM
So many thoughts on this one, @ShonaBang - so many!
From the work side, I feel that this unfortunately happens in a LOT of countries and in a LOT of organizations, in all honesty. While this may have been happening before COVID-19, it may have certainly gained traction (in a not so good way) considering that most of us still rely on video conferencing and calls. First, it's hard to really read body language when all you see is someone's face/shoulders. Then conversational language sets in where sometimes it sounds like it's just easier to brush off the negative discussions (or tough conversations when things aren't ok), and talk the positive path or "just smile". I can tell you from experience over the past few months that this is NOT a good path to choose.
Authenticity rules, and yes, while it does take charisma and strength to say "No, I really am NOT ok today" or the "I'm doing the best I can, I am enough" phrases, showing these "cracks" should be welcomed and contributes to both the work culture and diversity. I now find myself frequently saying "I'm here, you're here - let's get what we can done and adjust as needed" instead of the "Lets do this"!
As for general toxic positivity, I honestly fell into a trap early on (but quickly stopped) with the "now that you're working from home or are quarantined, you have more time to upskill or do that thing you've been meaning to do". That very quickly put incredible pressure not only on myself, but others in my life!
Ways that I have coped with it were to reach out to some of my "confidants" to just talk about my feelings and experiences, simply asking others for help, looking to inspiration from other folks sharing these same "it's ok to not be ok" stories, and truly focusing on spending time with folks/family that really matter to you.
08-27-2020 12:08 PM
I also want to add that this toxic positivity concept also brings folks very close to experiencing mental burnout. I think about this talk given by @Sonia Cuff at MSIgnite 2018, and still remember closing my eyes and putting my hand up (with tears rolling down my cheeks):
If this moves you as well, please do reach out - would be happy to talk about my experiences and help or just listen to you!
08-27-2020 12:20 PM
08-27-2020 12:24 PM
I am very lucky in that the company I work for are so aware and supportive of mental health, amongst many other relevant issues. This makes such a difference and not everyone is so fortunate, so I sure don't take that for granted.
I take my hat off to anyone brave enough to speak up. It's not easy.
08-27-2020 12:25 PM
08-27-2020 12:54 PM
This is so true. I wish we could have the confidence to reply honestly when asked how we are. I think that in general we all feel that by putting ourselves out there like that, that we may be unfairly putting people under pressure, combined with the fear of a lack of empathy and support in response.
I'm really interested to hear how things differ around the world. It sounds as if there are a lot of differences. In the UK, things are improving a lot I feel, but there is still an overarching sense of "just get on with it" at times too. There is still so much to be learned.
08-27-2020 02:32 PM
08-27-2020 03:44 PM
I am 100% the opposite of this. I call a spade a spade. If you follow me on Twitter or have interacted with me in any way, you'll know that I am blunt, honest and sarcastic as hell. Sarcasm helps a hell of a lot in situations like these. But I'm not known for sugar coating or "trying to look on the bright side". I find that there's often comunity in commiseration. So I will often whinge about how crap my day is, how little sleep I got, how much my small human is driving me *INSANE*. And I will have a whole bunch of people who'll jump on and say that it's happening for them too - and we share stories and laugh about how ridiculous this stuff is. Laughter helps, but it's got to be with a heavy dose of reality. And if you can't laugh at life, then you're not seeing the funny side!
My best advice is to find your tribe - have a group of people (doesn't have to be huge) that you can go to and lay out all your dramas and worries. These are people you trust, who aren't going to gossip behind your back, who you can share personal and confidential info with knowing that it's not going to go any further. Having that group to talk to, and also being there for them as well, is a HUGE help. My tribe has massively supported through this period of WFH and being distanced.
08-27-2020 11:12 PM
I love that you have the confidence to be that way. I wish more people would be the same. In the times we are living though we have to be so careful what we say and even what we think.
It is so easy to unintentionally cause offence. I do think we have lost the ability to have a bit of humour in our lives because of the fear of offending an individual or even a group or community. But we do have to be mindful of the feelings of those individuals and communities.
My own view is that there is a balance that needs to be found. It would be a shame if humanity loses the ability to poke fun at itself and enjoy a bit of harmless humour, but the key to this is understanding what is harmless as opposed to what is hurtful or offensive.
Before saying something, I always try and think first "How would that read on Twitter"? Is this something that could end up being plastered all over the Daily Mail (a UK newspaper who seem to take utter joy at demonizing people for the slightest mistake).
So so tricky isn't it. We just have to try and empathize and care for each other as much as possible, but acknowledge that we are going to make mistakes, and that most importantly we not only need to learn from those mistakes, but we need to be forgiven for them too.
08-30-2020 09:39 AM
Thank you @ShonaBang for bringing up this issue.
I believe instead of sharing words, we have to help them out the best we can and give them solution. We might not have solution for all problems, but we could use power of community to solve problems. Let me share one example, due to COVID-19 one of my contacts shared a post stating someone I know lost his job due to COVID-19 and this is his expertise. I know the guy would be in terrible condition, and telling it would be fine, won't fix the issue. So I shared it with my network and I believe other people also did the same and he find the job.
I believe we need to put action on solving problems and in case we cannot do that, we could ask experts to help them out. It is always recommended to raise our hand to take someone else's hand and believe me , doing so would cause someone else would raise hand and help you out and we just have to develop this culture.