CAM CHURCH – Toxic Positivity / Healing vs. Pretending
Today we are talking about healing toxic positivity and the difference between healing versus pretending we’re preaching out of the Fundamentals of UNICULT second edition page 77. If you want to have your book you can turn to it you can open it you can get this at Unicult Supply Co or you can just listen to this sermon.
Positivity has a bad reputation because it is not fully understood. Positivity is sometimes mistaken for the idea that you simply pretend you don’t have negativity happening in your life. For us to understand the difference between healing versus pretending and the idea of toxic positivity, we have to first understand what healing is.
What is healing? A lot of us think of healing as self-care, meditating, all these different spiritual ideas, but it’s simpler than that. Healing is health. Whatever it is that brings you health is healing. Healing is simply wholeness. Healing is simply arriving to your complete form in the moment that you’re in. It’s an alignment process. Healing is not instantaneous necessarily, but it can be in the sense that you can access your own health, if you can find it, if you know how to get there, if you know how to align yourself to be in it.
When we are able to stay aligned in our most healthful reality, we will be able to maintain our health much easier. Currently we live in a very chaotic world. It’s very hard to align our energy to be in the stream of truth, to be in the stream of healing. It’s exhausting sometimes to be on this healing journey. There’s a lot of opposition that we face.
Healing is health. Healing is wholeness. The idea of toxic positivity is this idea that people like me, white, femme, new age leaders were coming online and saying, “Just be happy everybody. Forget about all that darkness and put on a smile. Fake it till you make it and all of these other things.” There’s a lot of issues with this approach. First of all, it diminishes trauma. It diminishes and ignores true trauma. It’s also coming from a super privileged place where usually white people who come from relatively you know well-off backgrounds are just saying,”Be positive! Be positive! It’s not that bad!”, when in fact they have no idea what it’s like for other people.
It can be very tone deaf and it can be very ignorant to just tell people to find positivity in their circumstances. People with chronic pain, people with chronic conditions, people with mental illness, people who are not neurotypical, people who have financial hardship, people who have trauma are all people who have pushed back against this movement of toxic, blind positivity and said, “Excuse me, actually it’s not that easy and there’s a lot of problems that need to be fixed!” Simply saying, “Just be happy” doesn’t actually solve the systemic, racist, transphobic, homophobic, sexist, or whatever mechanisms that are operating in this world.
How do we navigate these very real, valid criticisms with the fact that positive thinking is actually really helpful, that positive thinking is actually something that can really shift your life even if you’ve had trauma even if you’re systematically or systemically oppressed? It’s a complicated dance. We start from the place of cynicism. Just like on the path to joy, we have to say, “Yeah things have sucked. Things suck for you. Things suck for me. Things suck, they do.”
We are experiencing massive amounts of oppression and trauma. It’s not okay. We can’t stand for it. A lot of people say we should be angry, say we should be fighting, say we should be tearing it down. A lot of times I feel this way too and this is a really important feeling because it gets us started on our healing journey. This is our fire. This is our motivation to be like I want to change things because it’s so fucked up this is a valid place to be and I’m so happy that most of us are here now in this world.
When I first started this journey, most people were not even aware of these problems. Most people were asleep. I’m really grateful for this pushback against toxic positivity. I’m really grateful for this pushback against, just whitewashed bullshit that doesn’t acknowledge the deeper systemic and oppression and everything else that’s happening.
When we’re talking about changing culture, when we’re talking about changing society, when we’re talking about truly healing, there are a few things that we have to acknowledge. The first is the oppression and the trauma. The second is the vibrational truth of healing. Healing is real healing is possible. If we stay in that cynical state, if we stay in that angry state, we will get burnt out. The energy is not sustainable. It doesn’t actually make change. This is true even like a veganism right like a lot of people who are vegans especially back in the day used to scream at other people. I have a whole video that I put online once after someone called me a rapist because I ate a piece of cheese pizza and, for me that kind of aggression did not help me change my diet into one that was more compassionate.
We have to be the change that we want to see. There’s something called “vibrational truth” that we talk about a lot in Unicult. If you are truly vegan because you’re a compassionate person, you get to be compassionate to everyone. It’s a tough situation, but from that place of compassion, I believe you have more sustainable change. It might not seem like it because we’re used to paying attention to anger. We’re used to paying attention to criticism. We’re used to paying attention to people who are loud and mad, but that kind of energy is only destructive and it’s not sustainable. It’s important, it’s a first step, it is our fire from which we operate, but from that place, we then get to learn what the problem is.
If the problem is veganism the problem is compassion, then we get to ask ourselves, “I am the microcosm of this problem! How can I become more compassionate?” I can change my diet. I can learn how to be more compassionate towards myself. I can learn how to be more compassionate to other people. I can stop killing bugs. I can think about my relationship with my pets. I can think about my relationship with the animals in my neighborhood. I can maybe take some proactive steps for protecting species in my neighborhood where developers. Where I’m from in Colorado, they kill all the prairie dogs. A Walmart gear then they’re like oh this whole entire community of prairie dogs is just going to get, gassed and they just kill them all right.
As a vegan these are my concerns because I’m focusing on first my own consciousness then I’m focusing on my body my diet then I’m focusing on my home my relate my close relationships with my pets and then I’m focusing on my community how can I be more compassionate toward the people homeless people angry people in their driving whatever and also the animals in my community. This is true healing.
If you’re on this path it’s okay to be positive because well the anger and the frustration is our fire, it’s our energy, it’s our it’s our movement it’s our action energy positivity is our map. Positivity is our compass. Get fueled with that energy of wanting to change things. You can allow yourself to adopt a positive mindset to direct your energy in the place that it wants to go, in the place that it’s supposed to go in the healing direction. Remember that you are a microcosm of the macrocosm. Everything that you want to fix about the world can be fixed inside your own consciousness. As you do that, you heal the world.
When we’re talking about positivity and positive thinking, it’s easy to for some people, especially people who have not been traumatized to say, “I don’t know what the big deal is! Just don’t be depressed. Sometimes I also feel sad. I just get up and I exercise and then I feel good!” Obviously if you have depression and you’ve been in bed for 10 days and someone’s says, “Just get up and exercise”, you’re going to think, “I’m alone. You don’t understand the mountain that I’m trying to climb just to drink a glass of water!” It’s because of this disconnect that we have where it’s compassionless. It’s not a lack of compassion, it’s a lack of understanding that your trauma and my trauma are not the same. The way that you view life and the way that you’re going about your reality is not the same as the way that I’m going about my reality. That’s okay! We have to open up our minds to the place of true compassion where we look at someone and we say you’re having a hard time with that and we have to validate it it’s easy to just throw solutions at people and say well here do this do this try this try this do this those things might have worked for you, but they might also not work for someone else.
I think there’s a little bit too much aggression in the response to positivity. I get it because I was that depressed person responding to people being positive. It feels like an attack. If you’re depressed and someone’s says, “Just drink some water, get up, and exercise. Make a list of all the things you’re grateful for” and all this stuff, you’ll probably think, “I don’t think you understand. I am in hell right now. I can’t even move my body or lift my finger.”
It feels like an attack, so people in that space attack back. They say, “You don’t understand!”, but the truth is that some of the suggestions that are thrown at them might actually work. We have to have compassion from both sides. If you’re someone who has trauma,who’s been oppressed, etc., try to open up your mind and understand that the person who’s recommending things to you doesn’t understand your circumstances.
If those things are out of completely out of whack with what you think is the right thing, which happens to me all the time, I get unsolicited advice constantly and I get offended sometimes, I remember their reality is not my reality. They don’t know my life. They don’t know my trauma. They don’t know my work. That’s fine. From the other side we get to open up our mind and have compassion for the person who’s suffering. We say, “They must really be suffering, it must be a different reality than the one that I experience.”
The more that we can understand that each of us has a different reality, the more we can give more space to other people. The more we can make space for people to suggest potential solutions that may or may not benefit us, the better. You never know if something that someone’s saying is actually a good idea if you’re aggressively reacting to everything positive.
The criticisms against toxic positivity are legitimate. Trauma is real. Oppression is real. We have to acknowledge those things, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t move in the direction of joy. It doesn’t mean that we can’t move in the direction of positive thinking and of positivity. The idea of fake it till you make it, doing these affirmations every day, pretending to be happy, and doing contrary action, people also have aggression because it feels fake. The reason why it feels fake is because of the way our brain works. If you have practiced thinking a certain thought you have grounded yourself in a certain reality through repetitive thoughts and repetitive actions, you have deeper rivers of thought in your brain that validate that reality, that validate that way of thinking.
Try contrary action. I used to have this thought, “I want to die. I hate my life.” I changed that thought inside my head and I started repeating, “I love my life. I want to live. I love my life. I want to live. I love my life. I want to live.” At first it felt plastic and fake. It made me want to throw up. It was contrary action. This is fake it ‘till you make it. This is positivity that really does work. I brainwashed myself with affirmations that were the opposite of my negative thoughts. This helped me immensely. It helped me crawl out of the pits of hell. It helped me get to a stable place where I could operate, where I could be a good and kind person, but it didn’t heal me.
This is really important to understand! It raised my vibration up to a point where I was able to actually start my true healing journey. It was almost like these affirmations, this fake positivity that I was forcing into my own consciousness, raised my vibration up to a place where I had a good enough vantage point, where I could see clearly what actually needed to happen. What actually needed to happen was that I needed to heal my trauma.
I grew up with a very traumatic upbringing, as did all of us. Our culture is a traumatic culture. Having to go to a job that you don’t want to go to is traumatic. Having to repress your gender identity or fit into an expectation is traumatic. I am here to validate the fact that you have experienced trauma and that you can heal your trauma. We call the healing of trauma shadow work. We call it deeper healing. You can call it whatever you want, but the process of healing these deeper aspects is necessary.
For me the way that I knew the way that I realized I wasn’t actually healed is because I was brainwashing myself with all this positive all this positive messaging I love myself I’m a genius I’m a cult leader I’m a pop star I’m going to be so successful inevitable success, let’s go! I gassed myself up. I amped myself up. I was ready to take on the world, but then in my interpersonal relationships I was hitting myself and throwing things and being violent and threatening suicide. My partners would be like you’re this super positive person online and then like if you get close to you you’re actually a mess. I was like I’m not trying to be. I’m trying to be this person that is happy, positive and stable, but I wasn’t. and the reason why is because I hadn’t actually done the healing work. I had gotten myself into the place where I could do the healing work, but I hadn’t yet done it.
Through these interpersonal relationships, I have had the opportunity in the last five, ten years to expand my consciousness to the point where I have allowed myself to go into those darker realities, into the shadow. That happens to be a place where I experience great growth and great motivation. I love being in love and I love other people. I love merging my soul with other people. I have had the great blessing of working with Quan Yin, my friend, a shadow worker. She has helped me so much to understand these terrifying, deeper realities.
For me, as someone who struggled with suicidal ideation, who struggled with a suicidal past, the idea of looking at my trauma was so unbelievably scary. I needed a guide. I needed someone with me. Not everyone’s going to need a guide. Not everyone’s going to need that, but people like shadow workers do exist who can help you understand and can help you heal these things.
What Quan Yin taught me is that shadow work isn’t about destroying the shadow, it isn’t about fighting it, or eliminating it, or destroying the ego, or anything else. It’s about bringing light to those places where you were hurt. All of your pain is valid. It’s about validating your trauma. It’s about validating your triggers.
The fact that I literally have punched people in anger, my partners, and I’ve been violent was so embarrassing to me and so painful, I couldn’t believe that was inside of me. Through the lens of shadow work I was able to recognize that I was actually responding to a real trauma that had happened to me as a child that had never been healed. ,From that place, I was able to connect with my child self, bring compassion and light into that space, and learn how to communicate with that very hurt child part of myself who wants to lash out, who wants to fight, who feels so scared and
so trapped, that it feels like violence is the only answer. Allowing for my child self to be loved.
I thought when I did shadow work I was going to find demons, but all I really found was a scared and sad child. The more work you can do to understand your childhood traumas, the more work you can do to love them love your child self bring compassion to them, and hold space for the pain that they experienced as a child. All the ways that they were not listened to, all the ways that they were gas lit, all the ways that their freedom was not given to them, all the ways that they were told to make themselves smaller or different to fit into society. The more you can connect with that child self, the more you’ll be able to heal your shadow, the more you’ll be able to step into a true vibrational harmony that is of healing, that is of health.
The last thing I want to emphasise again is that healing is health. This is more than spirituality. We’re talking about a healthy body. We’re talking about a healthy diet. We’re talking about healthy relationships. We’re talking about a healthy connection to the home. We’re talking about being in nature.
What are the ways that make you feel whole? What are the ways that make you feel complete? What are the ways that make your energy feel as though it is of a higher vibration? When are you feeling carefree? When are you feeling joyous? When are you feeling free? Connect with those moments and bring your consciousness into your body. Appreciate all of the infinite sensations of the current moment. Connect 100 percent to the textures, the sounds, the feelings of this moment because in this moment, we have eternity. In this moment we have the macrocosm and the microcosm of everything that we ever needed. In this moment, we are safe to be able to move forward into the future.