When people are suffering, they don’t need someone to give them a pep talk, they need someone who will listen.

Whitney Hawkins Goodman is a family therapist and she says that sometimes well-meaning people try to help a struggling friend with statements like, “try to look at the bright side” and “think positive!”

Whitney calls these statements “toxic positivity” because they provide false cheerfulness when what a suffering person really needs is support and validation of their feelings.

So instead of trying to cheer somebody up with forced positivity, say something like, “This is a difficult situation. I believe in you” or, “It’s probably really hard to see any good in this situation right now. We’ll make sense of it later.”

The time for seeing the positive side of a challenge will come later for your friend. For now, just listen.

Karen Mulder

Karen Mulder

Karen Mulder is the founder of the Wisdom of the Wounded ministry. She lives in Holland, Michigan with her husband Larry.


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