Toxic positivity in motherhood creates so much unnecessary suffering. The worst part is that it’s challenging to detect and can closely resemble a positive mindset. But the difference is everything!

In this post, I’ll clear it all up for you. You’ll learn exactly how to differentiate between a positive mindset and toxic positivity, so you can stay empowered in your life.

Toxic Positivity In Motherhood

You know those well-meaning lines we hear constantly? “Cherish every moment,” and “it’s just a phase.” Well, turns out, being inundated with relentless optimism isn’t a good thing. Smiling through exhaustion and nodding along to unsolicited advice actually is toxic positivity in motherhood.

By definition, toxic positivity refers to the cultural expectation or mindset that encourages the suppression or denial of genuine negative emotions and experiences, promoting the idea that one should maintain a positive attitude at all times. It involves an overemphasis on optimistic phrases, often dismissive of valid concerns, struggles, or difficult emotions. In essence, toxic positivity suggests that one should “stay positive,” “look on the bright side,” or “find the silver lining” in every situation, regardless of its complexity or the genuine emotions involved.

Toxic positivity in motherhood says that you should be happy all the time, even when things are really hard. Or, it’s thinking that because I don’t have “real problems” I shouldn’t feel this way.

Examples Of Toxic Positivity In Motherhood

Here are some examples of toxic positivity in motherhood:

  • Enjoy every moment of motherhood; it goes by so fast!
  • Be grateful for every sleepless night; it means your child needs you.
  • Motherhood is always blissful; if you’re stressed, you’re doing it wrong.
  • It’s just a phase; things will get easier.
  • You’ll forget all about the pain of childbirth once you hold your baby.
  • Always smile; your kids will pick up on your energy.
  • You’re a mom; you should always be happy.
  • Don’t complain; there are people who can’t have children.
  • Negative feelings are harmful to your baby; think positive thoughts.
  • You’re not allowed to be tired; you choose to have kids.
  • Good moms never get frustrated or overwhelmed.
  • Just be grateful for the chaos; one day you’ll miss it.
  • You shouldn’t need a break from your kids; they are a blessing.
  • Real moms never ask for help.
  • Crying is a sign of weakness; you should be strong for your children.
  • Your body will bounce back after pregnancy; focus on being a hot mom.
  • Postpartum struggles are just in your head; snap out of it.
  • Breastfeeding is a breeze; it’s natural and easy for everyone.
  • If you need medication for postpartum depression, you’re not trying hard enough.
  • Your child’s behavior is a reflection of your parenting; bad behavior means you’re failing.
  • A messy house means you’re spending enough time with your kids.
  • It’s not okay to have regrets about motherhood; it’s a privilege denied to many.
  • Working moms are neglecting their children; stay-at-home moms have it all together.
  • Your worth as a mother is determined by how Pinterest-perfect your life looks.
  • Mothers shouldn’t have personal time; it’s all about the kids.
  • Your marriage should always come second to your children.
  • If you need a break, you’re not cut out for motherhood.
  • Prenatal depression is a myth; you should be glowing and happy during pregnancy.
  • Kids are resilient; they’ll get over any challenges you’re facing.
  • Your child’s success is a reflection of your superior parenting skills.
  • Motherhood is the only path to true fulfillment for women.
  • You should never feel lonely; your children are all the company you need.
  • Being a mom means sacrificing all personal aspirations.
  • Your career should take a backseat once you become a mother.
  • You’re a failure if your child isn’t at the top of their class.
  • Having a cesarean section is the easy way out.
  • If you have a nanny or childcare help, you’re not a hands-on mom.
  • You should always have a positive outlook, even in the face of challenges.
  • A messy, chaotic home is a sign of a happy family.
  • Your kids should always come first, no matter what.
  • If you’re not documenting every moment on social media, you’re not appreciating motherhood.
  • You should be able to do it all and make it look effortless.
  • You can’t complain about motherhood; it’s a choice you made willingly.
  • Your body should naturally snap back to its pre-pregnancy state.
  • Mothers who formula-feed aren’t giving their children the best start.
  • It’s selfish to prioritize self-care over your children’s needs.
  • You should never feel overwhelmed or stressed as a mom.
  • If you’re not attending all school events, you’re not a dedicated parent.
  • Your child’s behavior reflects solely on your parenting skills.
  • Real moms never struggle; they effortlessly balance it all.

The Difference Between Real Positivity And Toxic Positivity

Here’s how you can tell the difference between real positivity and toxic positivity:

Acknowledgment of Reality:

  • Genuine Positivity: Embraces positivity while acknowledging the reality of challenges and struggles.
  • Toxic Positivity: Disregards or minimizes real issues, dismissing them as inconsequential.

Validation of Emotions:

  • Genuine Positivity: Encourages expressing a range of emotions, both positive and negative, as part of the human experience.
  • Toxic Positivity: Discourages or dismisses negative emotions, implying that only positive feelings are acceptable.

Empathy vs. Dismissal:

  • Genuine Positivity: Demonstrates empathy by validating others’ feelings and offering support.
  • Toxic Positivity: Dismisses or invalidates others’ struggles by suggesting they “just be positive” without addressing the underlying issues.

Flexibility and Realism:

  • Genuine Positivity: Adapts to different situations, recognizing that not every circumstance requires a positive spin.
  • Toxic Positivity: Maintains a rigid, overly optimistic outlook regardless of the situation, which can feel forced or unrealistic.

Encouraging Openness:

  • Genuine Positivity: Supports open communication about both positive and negative experiences.
  • Toxic Positivity: Creates an environment where expressing negative feelings is discouraged or stigmatized.

Offering Practical Support:

  • Genuine Positivity: Accompanies positivity with concrete actions or solutions when needed.
  • Toxic Positivity: Focuses solely on optimistic statements without addressing practical needs or concerns.

Respect for Individual Experiences:

  • Genuine Positivity: Respects and acknowledges that each person’s experience is unique.
  • Toxic Positivity: Assumes a one-size-fits-all approach, implying that everyone should respond to challenges in the same positive manner.

Timing and Appropriateness:

  • Genuine Positivity: Recognizes when it’s appropriate to offer encouragement and when it’s more appropriate to listen or provide space.
  • Toxic Positivity: May offer unwarranted positivity in situations that call for empathy, understanding, or validation of difficult emotions.

Balancing Realism and Optimism:

  • Genuine Positivity: Strikes a balance between acknowledging difficulties and maintaining hope.
  • Toxic Positivity: Focuses solely on maintaining a positive outlook, sometimes denying the severity of a situation.

Encouraging Growth:

  • Genuine Positivity: Encourages personal growth and resilience through both positive and challenging experiences.
  • Toxic Positivity: Ignores opportunities for growth by avoiding discussions about challenges or difficulties.

By being mindful of these distinctions, you can foster a healthier and more authentic approach to positivity, one that embraces the complexity of human emotions and experiences.

How To Stop Toxic Positivity

Stopping toxic positivity in motherhood involves fostering a more authentic and balanced approach to emotions and experiences. Here are some practical ways moms can address and counteract toxic positivity:

1. Acknowledge and Accept Emotions:

  • Recognize that it’s okay to feel a range of emotions, both positive and negative. Give yourself permission to experience and express your feelings without judgment.

2. Educate Yourself:

  • Learn about the concept of toxic positivity and its potential impact on mental health. Understanding the dynamics can empower you to identify and address it in your own life.

3. Surround Yourself with Authenticity:

  • Seek out and build relationships with people who embrace authenticity and are comfortable discussing both the challenges and joys of motherhood. Authentic connections provide support without judgment.

4. Set Boundaries:

  • Establish clear boundaries with individuals who tend to engage in toxic positivity. Politely communicate your needs and preferences regarding the type of support you find helpful.

5. Use “I” Statements:

  • When expressing your feelings, use “I” statements to communicate how you feel and what you need. For example, “I feel overwhelmed, and I need someone to listen” is more effective than a blanket dismissal of positivity.

6. Encourage Open Conversations:

  • Initiate open and honest conversations about the challenges of motherhood with friends, family, or support groups. Sharing experiences fosters a sense of community and reduces the pressure to conform to unrealistic standards.

7. Practice Mindfulness:

  • Engage in mindfulness practices that encourage living in the present moment without judgment. Mindfulness can help you accept your emotions without feeling the need to conform to a prescribed positive outlook. Click here for more on Mindfulness.

8. Validate Other Moms:

  • When supporting other moms, avoid defaulting to overly optimistic phrases. Instead, validate their feelings and experiences. A simple “I hear you” can go a long way.

9. Embrace Imperfection:

  • Accept that imperfection is a natural part of motherhood. Let go of the pressure to meet unrealistic expectations, and celebrate the messy, imperfect beauty of the journey.

10. Seek Professional Support:

  • If toxic positivity is affecting your mental health, consider seeking support from a mental health professional. They can provide guidance and strategies to navigate challenges and promote a more balanced emotional well-being.

11. Encourage Realistic Expectations:

  • Share realistic expectations of motherhood with others, especially those who may be entering this phase. Honest conversations can help break down unrealistic ideals and create a more supportive community.

12. Model Authenticity for Your Children:

  • Demonstrate authentic expression of emotions for your children. Let them see that it’s okay to feel a range of emotions and that expressing vulnerability is a sign of strength.

By incorporating these practices into your life, you can contribute to a culture of authenticity and emotional well-being in the realm of motherhood, fostering a healthier and more supportive environment for yourself and those around you.

How To Practice A Real Positive Mindset

Cultivating a genuinely positive mindset involves integrating practices that foster optimism, resilience, and overall well-being. Here are some ways moms can actively practice and cultivate a real positive mindset:

Gratitude Journaling:

Take a few minutes each day to write down things you’re grateful for. Focusing on the positive aspects of your life can shift your mindset towards appreciation.

Mindfulness Meditation:

Practice mindfulness meditation to bring awareness to the present moment. Mindfulness can help reduce stress, improve focus, and enhance overall well-being.

Positive Affirmations:

Incorporate positive affirmations into your daily routine. Repeat affirmations that resonate with you to reinforce positive beliefs about yourself and your abilities.

Surround Yourself with Positivity:

Choose to spend time with people who uplift and support you. Positive social interactions can significantly impact your mindset.

Engage in Self-Care:

Prioritize self-care activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Whether it’s reading a book, taking a bath, or going for a walk, make time for activities that nourish your well-being.

Celebrate Small Wins:

Acknowledge and celebrate your achievements, no matter how small. Recognizing your successes, no matter how minor, contributes to a positive mindset.

Focus on Solutions:

When faced with challenges, shift your focus from problems to solutions. Instead of dwelling on what went wrong, concentrate on constructive ways to address the situation.

Practice Self-Compassion:

Be kind to yourself and practice self-compassion. Treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding you would offer to a friend facing a similar situation.

Set Realistic Goals:

Establish achievable goals that align with your priorities. Breaking down larger goals into smaller, manageable steps can make them more attainable and boost your confidence.

Connect with Nature:

Spend time in nature to refresh your mind and gain perspective. Whether it’s a walk in the park or simply sitting in your backyard, nature has a calming effect.

Learn and Grow:

Cultivate a growth mindset by viewing challenges as opportunities to learn and grow. Embrace the idea that your abilities can be developed through effort and perseverance.

Express Kindness:

Engage in acts of kindness, whether big or small. Helping others and expressing kindness can create a positive ripple effect in your life and the lives of those around you.

Limit Negative Inputs:

Be mindful of the content you consume, both online and offline. Limit exposure to negative news or social media that may contribute to a pessimistic outlook.

Create a Positive Environment:

Surround yourself with positive elements in your physical environment. Decorate your space with items that bring you joy and create a sense of positivity.

Cultivate Healthy Habits:

Prioritize physical health through regular exercise, a balanced diet, and sufficient sleep. Physical well-being is closely linked to mental well-being.

Seek Support:

Don’t hesitate to seek support when needed. Whether from friends, family, or professionals, having a supportive network can positively impact your mindset.

This is what the Mom On Purpose Membership, my coaching community for moms is all about. Learn more about the membership here.

Remember, cultivating a real positive mindset is an ongoing process that involves intention and consistent effort. By incorporating these practices into your daily life, you can foster a genuine and resilient positive mindset that contributes to your overall well-being as a mom.

A Final Note

Once you realize what toxic positivity is, it becomes much easier to spot it in real life.

Let’s embrace the beauty in acknowledging our highs, lows, and everything in between. Genuine positivity is about finding balance, celebrating victories, and allowing ourselves to be imperfectly human.

Here’s to breaking free from toxic positivity, creating a space for real conversations, and elevating our mindset with a dash of optimism that’s as genuine as our messy, wonderful, and unique journey through motherhood. Cheers to authenticity and the power of a positively real mindset!