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Podcast #27- Holding Space and Toxic Positivity

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Monday’s post about childhood books sparked a flood of memories about beloved books that many of you couldn’t remember the titles of. This broke my heart, so I went to Google and tried to find the books for you, but I couldn’t locate anything. I did, however, come across a number of fantastic websites that might help you in finding your books:

How to Find a Book When You Don’t Know the Title or Author – Book Cave

Finding a Book When You’ve Forgotten Its Title | The New York Public Library

Looking for a Childhood Book? . | Old Children’s Books

Have fun!

A few weeks ago, my friend Elizabeth shared a post on toxic positivity, and in that post, she shared the following quote:

“It’s not our job to solve problems for our children, but it is our job to listen and love them.”

In this week’s podcast, I talked about holding space for our loved ones and what it actually means to hold space for another person.

Photo by Christina Morillo on

I discuss how difficult it is to do this and how it took practice for me to be able to hold space for my loved ones. It’s natural to want to give advice to help those around us who are in distress, especially when those in need are our children.

Holding space became a technique that I needed to work on, and I felt compelled to share this with others in hopes that you could benefit from my experience.

Here are 11 helpful tips on how to hold space for someone:

GoodTherapy | 11 Things That Will Help You Hold Space for Someone

Then I moved on to discussing toxic positivity because, while holding space for someone, it’s easy to comfort them with statements like, “it’ll be fine.” While this appears to be harmless, it is not.

I explain that I am the most guilty of practicing toxic positivity on myself. Shaming me for my own feelings by implying that what I’m going through is insignificant compared to what others are going through.

Photo by Pavel Danilyuk on

I wanted to talk about toxic positivity because I never want anyone to think I’m trying to portray my soul homework or healing process in that light. I’m a lot happier now than I used to be, and I’m also a lot less negative. But I never want someone to believe that if they are sad, depressed, or anxious, I am shutting them down. I still have many days like that, and I allow myself to feel those emotions because they are an important part of the process.

I feel that many people are uninformed of what toxic positivity truly is, and through this platform, I hope to share these things with all of you so that you can learn, and share it with others.

In the podcast, I mentioned four ways to avoid toxic positivity:

4 Ways to Avoid Toxic Positivity – Talkspace

At the end of the podcast, I shared a quote that I felt fit with what I was talking about here:

“Being able to feel safe with other people is probably the single most important aspect of mental health; safe connections are fundamental to meaningful and satisfying lives.”

-Bessel Van Der Kolk M.D. from the book, The Body Keeps The Score

Have you ever truly held space for someone? Have you ever been on the receiving end?

Have you ever been subjected to toxic positivity? Are you guilty of self-shaming, like I was?

20 thoughts on “Podcast #27- Holding Space and Toxic Positivity”

  1. I’ve been inundated with toxic positivity this month. I know people are getting into the Thanksgiving mood, but enough already with trying to force me to be grateful. I’m clear that it’s never my job to fix someone so I love the idea of holding space for them instead. That I can do without rolling my eyes

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes! I have been the victim of toxic positivity around Christmas, in the past. If I dared express that it was a sad time of year for me, I got “C’mon! Cheer up! There is so much to be happy about. Go look at the pretty lights or something until you feel the spirit.” So I learned to shut up and say nothing and dump my feelings onto my blog instead (thank you dear old bloggie!).
    Now, I am off to search for that childhood book! Thanks for posting those links, Kari!


    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sorry you weren’t able to express your sadness. For many people, Christmas is a hard time. During the holidays, I don’t always feel cheerful. In fact, I don’t really enjoy holiday music. It reminds me of working long hours in retail with rude management and unyielding customers. That is something I don’t like to be reminded of.

      Thank goodness for our blogs.

      Have fun with those links! Please let me know if you find the book! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hmm, I hadn’t heard of toxic positivity. Seems like a contradiction, but I do get it. That is an annoying thing. I was just telling a friend that sometimes someone close to me, doesn’t let me FEEL what I feel, I hear “Now don’t say that – it’s fine.” or “It wasn’t that bad.”, etc. Damn it – I’m upset and THAT’S OK. Not sure if that falls in the category of toxic positivity, but maybe I’m not being given the space I need to feel what I flipping FEEL.

    I do love how easy it is to figure out the name or title of something nowadays. Is google our best invention ever? Perhaps. Stand down, microwave oven. I love just looking up the year something happened, like the movie GHOST. I watched with the girls last weekend and I was trying to figure out when I saw it. Hello, Google.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Toxic positivity is just that. You’re allowed to feel what you feel. I think people mistakenly believe that sitting in negativity is unhealthy for us. It’s much worse to never let it out and give it a home inside of you, don’t you think?

      Isn’t technology great? Google has taught me so much. More than I ever learned all those years in school. πŸ˜‰


  4. You know I hate it when people tell me to look on the bright side, or things will be better soon, or I have it so much better. They’re saying my feelings and emotions don’t matter. Drives me crazy

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Important concepts, ones that take a long time to learn/work through. (Or maybe that’s just me.) I took a tiny baby step to share with someone in my work setting a difficulty I was having, and in response I was told to hold my sacred boundaries and fill my tank because I can’t give from an empty one. (Oh, really? Thanks. I didn’t know that.) That sent me over an edge I was already teetering on. I had shared, in a very brief and tentative way, the difficulty I was having in being able to do the job in the time I have, and I felt completely invalidated. I didn’t need the person to fix the problem. I just wanted acknowledgement that it was real. That it wasn’t about my choices, but about the situation we’re in. The incident has me really thinking about how to not do that to others, especially my students. And you can be sure I will not attempt such sharing with that person again any time soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They are not simple concepts to grasp. It took a long time for me to figure out. To be honest, I believe these concepts should be taught in schools. We can’t assume that all parents know how to teach this because they don’t, and perhaps we should make it part of curriculum until mental health care becomes a “thing” in America. I hate adding one more responsibility to teachers’ plates, but maybe we can skip math for this? πŸ™‚

      I understand how it feels to be invalidated. I’m so sorry that person wasn’t able to hold space for you. Sometimes all we need is a listening ear and a friendly face, not a solution.


      1. Oh, we have mandated SEL (social-emotional learning) times now, and I’m gonna tell you that (IMO) it’s a joke. I think it needs to be woven into math (and everything we teach), every interaction we have with students. Instead of taking time away from our work to do canned lessons that cannot be done in the time we’re given (15 minutes every week), I try to make it a natural part of my work with students. (For example, telling my students that I never want to see them submit work after 11:00 pm, and teaching them how to advocate for more time. Or yesterday, during a work period, noticing the noise level rise, I stopped everyone and asked them to just check in with themselves and ask, if they had stopped being on task, why that was, and offered some solutions for common reasons.) One problem is that many teachers themselves don’t know enough about good mental health practices to teach them (it’s not their content area), and when we get asked to teach things we don’t know, we do it superficially (as is the case with our current SEL mandates). I think it’s a both/and thing, rather than an either/or. But also? Teaching this way requires teachers to be in a place of good mental health, and the way things are right now, many are not.

        Sorry. This touches a big, fat, tender, sensitive nerve. It’s really hard in schools right now.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. This is a great topic! I think it’s so important to hold space for people and, although I am a very positive person, to not be toxically positive. I discovered when my kids were very very small, that it was so much better to say “That’s so sad, I know you’re upset” rather than spin it in a different way, when they were upset. It’s so much better to acknowledge that a person is sad or hurt or upset, and to just BE present with those feelings, than to try to “fix” it. As the kids have gotten to be teens, this attitude has served me well. Because sometimes things DO suck and sometimes things ARE hard, and we just have to process that first before looking on the bright side.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It makes me feel a lot less stressed knowing I don’t have to be joyful and optimistic all of the time. Sad days happen, and when they do, we feel them. I used to believe that feeling sad or gloomy was causing me to regress. I’ve now realized that such days will come and go, and I’ll just have to ride them out.

      You are so right about when they enter adolescence. My adjustments in attitude have benefited both of my daughters.


  7. I learned a few things today and it didn’t even hurt.
    Holding space. This phrase is completely new to me. BUT, I am good at practicing this. I don’t know when the switch flipped, but many years ago I just stopped talking and really listened to my friends/kids. Do you know who has issues with this? In my experience: Men. They want to fix. Now, I preface anything to the husband with: I don’t need a fix, I need you to listen.

    Toxic positivity. You could have called this SUZANNE. No, I would never do it to anyone else. But do it to myself? ALL THE DAMN TIME.
    Honestly, I don’t know if I can change this 100%, but I can work on it. I’ve always had the mindset of ‘yes, that is effed up, yes, that is a mess, but hey, let’s pull up our bootstraps and keep moving forward because LIFE!’

    Great podcast. I can’t wait to get home and find my favorite childhood book. *crossing my fingers that it is still around and I didn’t dream that I still had it*

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You hit the nail on the head. I’ve had to tell my husband numerous times, Don’t fix me, just let me get it out.

      I think it’s far more damaging when we do it to ourselves, which is why I felt obligated to share.

      I sincerely hope you can find your book. I feel like if you do, it would be a lot of fun to look at from time to time. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

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