Toxic Positivity

People will often tell you that ‘failure is not an option’. They tell you this is a bid to boost morale and believe that it’s a positive phrase. It can, however be classed as something known as ‘Toxic Positivity’. Toxic Positivity can be damaging when you’re embarking on a goal as it can make you feel like your feelings aren’t valid. When discussing failure and what that means to you personally, hearing phrases like ‘failure is not an option’ can have a detrimental effect as you’re then piling unnecessary pressure onto yourself. In fact failure is an option. We learn through failure, we grow and we expand our knowledge. We learn the ways in which something doesn’t work, which gives us the tools we need to continue.

Grow up!

We weren’t born being able to walk. First we had to learn to sit up, roll over, crawl and then finally walk after months of falling down. Were we told as babies that failure to walk is not an option? Of course not! It’s growth, development and discovery that gives us what we need to succeed. It is so important to allow yourself time to grow on the journey to your end goal. The human (especially the British) way of bolstering someone is to throw a bunch of cliches such as the aforementioned ‘Failure is not an option’, plus ‘you’ll get over it’ and ‘it could be worse’. None of these helpful phrases are actually all that helpful. All they do is suggest that what we are going through isn’t worth the emotion.

There is another way!

You’ll be pleased to know that as a Life Coach guiding you on your journey, you won’t hear any of these phrases from me. Instead I will choose phrases that are carefully considered to validate your feelings and emotions. Instead of dismissing your concerns and telling you to look on the bright side, I will suggest that although it can be difficult to see the good in this situation right now, eventually it will make sense. I believe that FAIL is just an acronym for First Attempt In Learning. It’s a necessary step on the path to success.


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Debbie Hargreaves Life Coach