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    • #25872

      Have you ever heard the term “toxic positivity“? Thinking back, I’d heard this before but never really reflected on what it meant, especially not in the context of chronic illness. However, I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, and can now recall dozens of examples where toxic positivity phrases have been used in relation to my diagnosis of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). And, I can’t stand it!


      According to The Psychology Group out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the term can be defined as: “the excessive and ineffective overgeneralization of a happy, optimistic state across all situations.” Some examples of phrases that would be considered toxic positivity can be found in my recent PF News column called, Avoid Toxic Positivity to Help PF Patients. Not only can these phrases irritate patients living with a chronic illness, they also are harmful because they often invalidate the struggle a patient is feeling. Saying things like, “don’t worry about it” or “stay positive” just aren’t always possible with a life-threatening lung disease.

      If you want to learn more about toxic positivity and how it can be dangerous in the context of chronic illness, please check out my column.

      What toxic positivity phrases have you encountered with your IPF/PF journey or since your diagnosis?


      How did you respond?

    • #25905
      Majella Callaghan

      Yes, I have come across it with my extended family.  For example,  They say things like ‘you sound really good today’ when I’m speaking on the phone with one of them.  I might have a coughing fit during the conversation with them but that doesn’t seem to make me any worse to them.  But I can understand that they are only trying to be positive for my sake and underneath it all they are probably saying to each other that I didn’t sound too good!

    • #25909

      Hi Majella,

      Thank you for writing and sharing your experience(s) with this topic. Unfortunately, I think you’re right: most people are coming from a place of wanting to be helpful and positive, however, comments embedded in toxic positivity can be really tough for patients like us to accept. Sorry to hear you’ve have to navigate this too. Hang in there and thanks for sharing.


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