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Avoiding Toxic Positivity
August 23, 2021
The wound is the place where the light enters you.
-Jalaluddin Rumi, Poet

Dear Exchange Community,

Nimah Gobir, in a recent MindShift article
writes about the detrimental effects of focusing too much on positivity during times of stress and grief. She offers this story:

“When Arléne Casimir was teaching during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, she experienced a school system that wanted teachers to put on a brave face for young students. It didn’t work. ‘And teachers were having nervous breakdowns. There was not a time to pause and witness what was happening to us,’ says Casimir. ‘I often asked myself, Who takes care of the caretakers? Who nurtures the nurturers?'
Casimir focused on how taking care of herself enabled her to show up better for her students. She directed her attention towards ‘inner work,’ namely cultivating her core values of integrity and authenticity. She examined how her lived experience, culture and past school experiences shape the way that she shows up in the classroom.”

Gobir uses the term “toxic positivity” to refer to “a phenomenon that was acute during the COVID-19 pandemic – in which people focus on the good and reject the bad in a way that is unrealistic and borders on gaslighting.”

We at Exchange know how disheartening it can be to think something is behind us, such as the worst of the pandemic, only to have it return as Covid cases are spiking again with the Delta variant. So we will be careful not to practice toxic positivity. This is a challenging time and we acknowledge that. We see your hard work, we honor your courage, and we urge you to allow your feelings to be whatever they need to be right now.

Please know that we are here. We offer our support and our caring,
The Exchange Team

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Comments (4)

Displaying All 4 Comments
Tiffany Peckham · August 24, 2021
Lincoln, NE, United States

Heidi, thank you so much for you comment!

Pat, I recently heard someone say "do not deny a child an opportunity to deal with loss (challenges, etc)" and that has stuck with me. Thank you for the comment.

Tamar, I loved reading your comment! thank you for sharing.

-Tiffany at Exchange

Heidi Casper · August 23, 2021
Garden Preschool
Santa Barbara, CA, United States

Thank you for sharing this. It is helpful, timely and opens windows to our true feelings and self. It can help us move forward honestly and compassionately.


Pat Lacoste · August 23, 2021
Kinder Haus Montessori Pre School and Child Care
Metairie, LA, United States

This is so very true. Life presents many challenges. As educators we do not prepare children for LIFE if we don’t acknowledge hardships and rough times.

Tamar Jacobson · August 23, 2021
Early childhood development and education consultant for early
Philadelphia, PA, United States

This is so important. I love the term "toxic positivity," because it denies certain feelings, and represses the emotions that are difficult or uncomfortable to face. It causes all of us to think that some feelings are bad and some are good. We are human beings with all kinds f emotions. Facing them helps us learn how to express them. When we repress emotions they will inevitably surface in other ways - not always positively. Thank you for sharing this.

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