Positivity is a must on our benzo recovery road, but when is positivity too positive?
Cue Toxic Positivity. This term expresses overly optimistic statements or attitudes designed to minimize painful emotions or experiences by creating pressure to be unrealistically optimistic without considering the situation's circumstances.
In other words, "Everything will always work out no matter what!" And while it's true that things usually do have a way of working out, in time, situations often do require some real attention and seriousness. I've long begun my phone conversations with new clients by sharing a disclaimer, stating that I'm not one of these super positive, pat you on the back, and tell you everything will be okay, kind of benzo coaches.
Of course, that's not to say that things will undoubtedly be okay! We all heal. You will heal. Don't get me wrong. Reassurance and positivity are fantastic in our recovery, and I certainly offer a lot of reassurance, but this alone isn't enough. We must be honest about our situation and what we must do to facilitate our recovery.
Most of the benzo communities are the opposite. They're negative and fear-driven. They've got a potential problem for every solution. It's like a giant echo chamber of negativity reverberating to fear.
It's all doom and gloom, all about avoidance, fear, and the long list of benzo-boogiemen!
But trying to create an overly unrealistic or delusional positive environment is also quite damaging. In the Benzo Recovery School, we focus heavily on the good, the positive, and the wins, but we are not delusional. We don't pretend we aren't suffering or that withdrawal and recovery aren't damn serious business.
That said, we must be well aware of the nature of fear and withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms create a host of cognitive distortions for us, which can hijack our perception and ability to see clearly. It's critical that we learn to identify such distortions and how to reframe them. We must pluck them like little weeds in our garden, or else their roots may harm our flowers and crops.
I have long preached the importance of creating an Insualted Environment. This environment is safe, positive, focused, and grounded in rational recovery. During withdrawal, we are so highly vulnerable to triggers, rumination, and a sense of phobia that it only makes sense to protect ourselves as best as possible.
This usually means making necessary changes in our environment. This might range from things like removing some negative people from our lives to leaving toxic triggering forums or even cleaning our room. It's identifying negative thinking, such as catastrophizing, ruminating, and black-and-white (all or nothing) thinking, and addressing it so we can truly see things for as they are and not as we wish they were or as the fear lies to us and tells us it is. Fear is a liar. Never forget that.
Again, this shouldn't be confused with toxic positivity. Self-preservation and having an intelligent recovery approach are vastly different from simply putting on our rose-colored glasses and pretending things aren't so bad. Of course, the counter to this, which we see the most, is toxic negativity. It's everyone focusing on the absolute worst-case scenarios. It's us drawing connections where perhaps there are none. It's us treating our situation as fatal, as though we were lost in the woods, surrounded by grizzly bears, and there's no way we can escape. We are doomed! Of course, we are NOT doomed!
My advice to you all is to open your minds. See the point here. Don't talk yourself out of a good thing. Don't be so worried that any positivity is silly, wishful thinking, or nonsense. Don't be a toxic realist! I used to be like that. I had a problem with every solution, but I woke up.
Don't be afraid to celebrate your victories, no matter how small or fleeting they might be.
Again, see the point. To beat Benzos requires a lifestyle change. it requires us to change ourselves. All those things we have relied on (our realism) have gotten us here. And we all know the definition of insanity: doing the same thing repeatedly but expecting different results. Be brave. Be courageous. Change. Change is good, my friends. Change is the only constant in life. Find some middle ground between toxic negativity and toxic positivity. Insulate your environment and focus on winning. This is what world champion fighters practice. Think like a champion.
One last thought on the topic. For individuals in my school or those reading this who are in other positive forums, be careful not to become SO insulated that it becomes a weakness. Avoidance in benzo withdrawal is usually a bad thing, as it creates more fear and anxiety about the thing we are avoiding.
Facing our fears is a huge part of getting better and growing.
However, we certainly need to avoid some things, such as negativity, as I've been elaborating on. Be careful not to go to such extremes to avoid negativity that you actually begin to create a kind of weakness or extreme vulnerability. We should still be able to hear someone else's suffering or struggle, though we do not want to indulge in this. Occasionally, encountering someone who's struggling shouldn't derail you. We shouldn't disassociate from their suffering and go running away. There's a line here, between self preservation and simply trying to be delusionally positivite and avoid any and all tough emotions.
There's certainly a middle road here.
Again. Part of healing and growing, especially in the treatment of anxiety and depression, is our ability to develop a strong sense of stability in our own emotions. Never lose sight of this. Benzo recovery is only one part of this great journey.
Do you want to stay off benzos? Then, you have to evolve emotionally as well.
Focus on the positive. Seek out the positive. Challenge the cognitive distortions. Create an insulated environment of positivity... but don't go to such extremes that we become unbearingly vulnerable to triggers, or that we engage in toxic positivity.