Satisfaction Factor

#16 - Toxic Positivity & Why Negative Feelings Matter

January 12, 2022 Naomi Katz & Sadie Simpson
Satisfaction Factor
#16 - Toxic Positivity & Why Negative Feelings Matter
Show Notes Transcript

On this week's episode, Naomi & Sadie discuss toxic positivity and how “good vibes only” messaging pushes us towards seeking perfection via external rules & societal constructs (and also bypasses ALL of the negative things that happen as a result of trauma, mental health issues, and experiencing marginalization or oppression). Plus, we share how toxic positivity is directly tied into diet culture & how the personal development industry is basically made up of rich dudes telling women they need to be more positive in order to be successful. And don't miss our whole related side conversation about Rachel Hollis!

You can stay up to date on all things Satisfaction Factor by following us on IG @satisfactionfactorpod!

And be sure to check out Shame Free Fitness, Sadie's new training program for fitness professionals who strive to be the change within an industry that is centered around diet culture. Enrollment will reopen in early 2022, but you can click here to get on the waitlist now!

Here's where to find us:
Sadie Simpson: www.sadiesimpson.com or IG @thesadiesimpson
Naomi Katz: www.happyshapes.co or IG @happyshapesnaomi

For this episode's transcript, visit: www.satisfactionfactorpod.com

This episode references:
Parenting Resources - @mrchazz, @biglittlefeelings, @lisaalamode, @manifestdestini
19 Self-Improvement Industry Statistics You Probably Didn't Know Before
Maintenance Phase Podcast - Rachel Hollis Part 1 & Rachel Hollis Part 2
Joyn - Free Body-Inclusive Movement

Naomi Katz:

Welcome to Satisfaction Factor, the podcast where we explore how ditching diet culture makes our whole lives more satisfying. Hey, everyone. Welcome back to Satisfaction Factor. I'm Naomi Katz, an Intuitive Eating, body image, and self trust coach providing anti diet support to free thinking grownups who want to reclaim their autonomy and consent from diet culture.

Sadie Simpson:

I'm Sadie Simpson, an anti diet group fitness instructor and Intuitive Eating counselor. I help other fitness professionals disengage from diet culture, so they can improve program enrollment, engagement, impact, and retention without shame and manipulation.

Naomi Katz:

Hey, Sadie.

Sadie Simpson:

Hey, Naomi.

Naomi Katz:

We are going to talk about kind of a nuanced topic today. We're going to be talking about the concept of toxic positivity. If that's not a phrase that you're familiar with, you will definitely be more familiar with it by the time we finish today.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes.

Naomi Katz:

But basically, it is the idea that, you know- it's like, good vibes only, and like choose to be happy, and, you know, this kind of really- it's almost like positivity as prescriptive. So toxic positivity is kind of very similar to diet culture, not only in the fact that it's prescriptive, and you know, one size fits all, and everything- it's also very all or nothing in terms of its relationship to feeling good or feeling bad, and it also really contributes to teaching us to suppress or ignore our feelings, and does that same kind of work of disconnecting us from our intuition and our self trust that diet culture does. It's also- you know, both toxic positivity and diet culture are very much rooted in capitalism. It's- you know, they want to basically make us feel like we're doing something wrong, so that they can sell us things to make us our, you know, quote unquote, best selves, or, you know- as we love to talk about- help us, quote unquote, live our best lives. Much more on that connection later, though.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah, and with it being the new year- and right now there's a common focus, or goal, or resolution that a lot of people have to do more personal development based work- to maybe read some self help books, and to cultivate a more positive outlook, which is great. And I think it's important to recognize that life isn't always going to be sunshine and rainbows, and we can't just positive vibes ourselves out of negative feelings, or behaviors, and especially negative situations.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah, definitely. And you're totally right- this time of year, I think we get a lot of this- of like, I think it's very much part of that, like, New Year New You thing.

Sadie Simpson:

Mm-hmm.

Naomi Katz:

It's, you know, the new you is going to be positive, and like, you know, just be living your best life. It's probably worth sort of talking about how positivity is a thing versus toxic positivity.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah.

Naomi Katz:

Because we're definitely not saying that like a positive outlook, or positive reframes, or whatever are a bad thing. Personally, I think that they're important.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah.

Naomi Katz:

Like, I think positive reframes, and like the ability to see things as more than just negative- this is important to mental health, and, you know, to all of that stuff. I do tend to believe that, like, we can make a choice to be more positive by, you know, practicing actively shifting our perspective, and focusing on the positive more than the negative. And there's a lot of nuance to that.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes.

Naomi Katz:

One of the reasons why I talk about practicing actively shifting perspective is because humans have a thing called a negativity bias. And that is a phrase that refers to just sort of the human tendency to focus on what's wrong instead of what's right. Like the bad stuff tends to stand out in our minds more vividly than the good stuff. And this is why, you know, sometimes we can be like, oh, I'm just having the worst day, even though the majority of stuff that happened during the day might have been fine, and just like a couple of things went wrong. Like we just have this view of like, oh, no, the whole day is bad now.

Sadie Simpson:

Like, I'm just thinking about negative Amazon reviews as a really specific one that comes to mind right now. Like, you could have a million 5-star, wonderful Amazon reviews for a product that you're selling, but then that one negative, nasty review could just bring the whole thing down. And it makes it feel like all of those glowing, fun, lovely reviews don't even exist, based on one negative review.

Naomi Katz:

That is a great point. And also, like sort of brings up another thing that you can see really clearly in reviews on Amazon, on Yelp, and stuff like that- is that like, you don't get a lot of like middle of the road reviews.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes.

Naomi Katz:

You get like glowing reviews, or you get like horrible, horrible reviews, because most people like aren't gonna go and just be like, yeah, this was okay. It's fine.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah, they're not. It's funny, this last couple of months, we had our members at the Y, where I teach group exercise classes- so we gave our participants an opportunity to fill out an evaluation form based on our classes. And in every single one of my classes, I was encouraging everybody- like all the people who come- I was like, please fill out these reviews, this is your chance, not only to say the really good stuff, or to share some negatives or things that you see as opportunities, but just to make some kind of comment in general, because we rarely ever get any of those kind of neutral, like, this is good, this is what I'm looking for. It's always either like, man, this is the greatest class I've ever taken, or, wow, this is the crappiest class I've ever taken. But you're so right. Like there is never any highlight of just the average experience somebody has.

Naomi Katz:

I love the way you phrased that- just the average experience that somebody has.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah.

Naomi Katz:

And I think that's part of this- is like to recognize that like, you know, for most of us, most of our days are probably average.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes.

Naomi Katz:

We probably aren't- like, no, most of our days probably don't involve like confetti falling from the sky, and like, you know, just the best day ever. But like, chances are, most of our days are also not like the absolute worst thing we've ever experienced. And like, that some of the, you know, the perspective shift is about recognizing that like, average days exist.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah.

Naomi Katz:

And they're okay too. And we can talk a little bit later about some ways to like practice shifting perspective a little bit. But we also can't really have this conversation without acknowledging that there are some negative things that are simply out of our control.

Sadie Simpson:

Mm-hmm.

Naomi Katz:

And that that is especially true for those of us with marginalized identities. It's a whole lot easier to be positive when we've got privilege.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes.

Naomi Katz:

And so like when we say things like happiness as a choice, or just choose positivity- which, you know, how I feel about advice that starts with just- -or whatever, we can bypass a lot of those things,

Sadie Simpson:

Yes. like trauma, and mental health issues, and experiences of marginalization and oppression. The thing that always comes to mind for me is like the concept of like manifesting good things in your life, like- I have always felt this way. Do you I do not remember that book. remember- and I might be dating myself right now- but do you remember that book The Secret? I feel like it was like the 90s, or early 2000s, or something like that. And the whole thing was just like, you know, put out into the world what you want to get back. And it was- like, it was the first instance that I remember of this concept of like manifesting good things for yourself.

Naomi Katz:

And I remember even then being like, this seems like

Sadie Simpson:

Mmm. bullshit. Like, I'm pretty sure that I'm not going to get what I want just because I wish for it hard enough. Like, just because I write it down on a piece of paper in my room and like tuck it away. And like, I don't- that's not how the world works. Like, those things might come to me but it's probably because of all kinds- it's either because of a lot of work, or it's because of all kinds of like unearned privilege than I might have. Yes. Well, we basically live in a fairy tale. Didn't you know that? Like we can make wishes and they just- they magically appear on our doorsteps.

Naomi Katz:

Don't get me wrong, I for sure have wished on wishing wells, and like shooting stars, and all- and birthday cakes, and all that stuff.

Sadie Simpson: Or 11:

11.

Naomi Katz:

Oh my god, so many 11:11 wishes, yes. And- and

12:

34- 1234, that's one too. But yeah, I think we all do that. But I don't know how many of us actually think that that's the secret to living a good life. Like, I just, I never really understood how that seemed like a realistic way to approach the things that we want in our lives. And I definitely never understood how we went into it not realizing all the other things that actually were coming together for us, if things did come together.

Sadie Simpson:

When I think of manifestation- and we've talked about this before- I'm not a very woowoo type of person.

Naomi Katz:

Yes. Same.

Sadie Simpson:

Like I'm very down to earth in pretty much every way, shape, and form. And I agree, like the idea of manifesting has never been something that I have related to at all. And I'm sure there's people out there that are like into the whole manifestation thing. And, you know, if that works for you, that's great. But that's personally just not something that- that speaks to me.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah, I'm the same way. And- and you're totally right- like, if those kinds of things, and this idea of you're manifesting something helps you to shift your perspective more towards the positive, and it feels good for you, and it doesn't feel like some kind of unrealistic expectation of things, or whatever- like, if it works for you, awesome. Like I'm- I'm never here to tell people that what they believe in isn't good enough, or like is- is a bad idea, or something like that. But I also think it's really important to recognize that like, for a lot of people, that doesn't resonate because it's not reflective of their like, lived human experience.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes. And even just getting back to the title, toxic positivity- or the phrase toxic positivity- like, in some ways, this idea of living your best life, or good vibes only, and that type of thing- that feels kind of related to the whole manifestation thing to me, which is why I think it is another reason why I don't really relate to the whole manifestation thing, because I also don't really relate to the good vibes only thing. And it's funny, like even when I think about toxic positivity, I automatically think of it as being marketed like in inspirational quotes, like manifest your life, or live your best life, or live, laugh, love- like all these quotes that we see on Instagram, or like the little wall hangers that you find at TJ Maxx, or whatever.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah, definitely. I definitely experience this as like decorative wall decor.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes.

Naomi Katz:

That is, for sure, how I experience this. And so one of the things that's, you know, helpful to keep in mind, and one of the reasons why I think that this like all or nothing, like just be positive, look on the bright side perspective as like prescriptive is not helpful is because negative feelings and discomfort are feedback for us. And we overlook that feedback when we're caught up in

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah. Mm-hmm.

Naomi Katz:

The other thing that comes up within that like toxic this like toxic positivity, all or nothing positivity, type of a positivity that I think really mirrors diet culture a lot is concept. You know, we have talked before about how, you know, within diet culture, we might sometimes feel like something doesn't align, and like, we feel those hints of this idea of like- I don't know- like, I feel like there's this discomfort, but we like push them down and ignore them, and sense of like, if you feel negative, then you are negative. so- and it just teaches us not to trust ourselves, and not to trust our instincts, and stuff like that. And I think this is exactly where that shows up. Like negative feelings tell us something about whether or not what we're doing is working, or like whether we need to change, or like if something's not right. And if we're in this place of like, no bad vibes, then like, we miss those signals, and, you know, we might end up on a path that really doesn't serve us. So it's just like attaching this identity to

Sadie Simpson:

Mm-hmm. something that is temporary, really, and then attaching a bunch of moral judgment to that too. Like, negativity- like when you look at the language that, you know, that toxic positivity culture uses around this stuff- it's like, it's infectious, it's poison. It's, you know, these things that we definitely hear within diet culture, about the foods that are supposed to be off limits to us too. And I don't think that that overlap is unintentional. Oh my gosh. I've never really even thought about that- like those connections and that overlap. But yes, there is a lot of correlation between diet culture and toxic positivity. And that like, even when you just said, the poisonous stuff, like the junk stuff, the bad stuff- like these are the words that we use to describe food in diet culture, and these are the same words that we're describing, like these negative feelings- these poisonous, and toxic, and- and all that other stuff.

Naomi Katz:

Well, and I think that, much like with food- you know, where disconnecting these moral judgments from these foods and things like that really allows us to experience food in a way that is more nourishing, and freeing, and just all around more healthy- I think that allowing ourselves to experience negative emotions without moral judgments, and guilt, and shame, and stuff like that allows us to approach those feelings of discomfort and like negativity in- pardon the pun- but a much more positive way. If we can see them as information, instead of, you know, this thing that we have to avoid at all costs- again, much like, you know, oh, this food doesn't make me feel good, that's information, not like a rule- then we can sort of recognize that maybe that discomfort, those negative feelings, are pushing us to realign with our values and our purpose, or that they're like calling us to do some unpacking or digging around something, or maybe they're telling us that we need to ask for help with something. But, all around, like they're information, and we can get- if we- if we can just see them as data and information, and not attach all these judgments to them, they can actually help us to acknowledge and use those feelings too.

Sadie Simpson:

A lot of this idea of having to kind of push down or ignore negative feelings and negative emotions in place of good vibes only, and always be positive, and that type of thing- I think a lot of it does come from a place of perfectionism- like always trying to put off this perfect persona. And we can talk about this a little bit more later. But I think a lot of this also shows up in parenting as well. And I've really been reading, and researching, and just learning about trying to implement some of these concepts and things even as a parent. And it's really, really, really hard. Because as a parent, you instinctively want to manage your kids' behaviors- like either negative behaviors or negative feelings. You want them to feel good. You don't want to see them get hurt. And when these negative feelings that kids have show up in the forms of things like crying, or yelling, or tantrums, and that kind of thing, you automatically always want to try to fix it, like instead of just letting them sit with the feeling and just, you know, kind of feeling their own feelings, for lack of a better word. Like you always want to just rush to solve the problem for them. And I hope some other parents can relate to this. Like, I hope it's not just me. But kids have this magical ability for expressing negative feelings in a really loud way at the most inconvenient times. But the thing about it is, it's like inconvenient for us- like for the adults, for the parents, or the caregivers, for the teachers, whoever- it always seems to happen like in the grocery store, or in the car when you can't do anything about it, or when you're on a call, like a work call, or something like that. That's when all of these tantrums, and screaming fits, and things tend to happen. But like this is something that I've been actively working on in my parenting life- is like recognizing that trying to manage or stop like these big feelings that kids have, either by punishment- like sending the kid to the room and just letting them kind of deal with their feelings themselves, or even like bribing them with stuff to stop crying or whatever- like as a parent or caregiver, in the long run, is really not helpful. Like it doesn't teach the kid, themself, how to experience or how to navigate negative feelings, which is a skill that they're going to need to know as an adult, and as a teenager, like when they grow up. And it teaches them from a young age to suppress this negativity because of the associated shame. And honestly, like the more I learn about this and research this as a parent, I'm like, oh, crap, like we- our whole generation of people have, like, done this- like we've all suppressed all of our negative feelings because of the associated shame.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah. Wow.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah. That's a lot isn't it.

Naomi Katz:

I mean, it is. But- but wow. Because it's- I mean, obviously, I don't have a lot of perspective on like how kids process this stuff, and so I love love love when you share that stuff. Because, you know, what we see with kids is what would this look like if we didn't have society telling us what it was supposed to look like?

Sadie Simpson:

Yes.

Naomi Katz:

And it's just- it's so interesting to like have that perspective and be like, wow, this is actually healthier.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah.

Naomi Katz:

Like this is a much healther way to do this. Yeah, I bet. Oh my god, I bet. Well, and, you know, it's so

Sadie Simpson:

Like, honestly, it sucks really bad in the moment. Like, it's- it's really hard. Like, it sucks to have to sit there and, you know, help a child like manage whatever feeling they're having- like, help them learn how to find the words to describe what they're feeling. And half the time, they're like screaming and crying, and they don't interesting too- like we talked in the episode about fullness- understand what you're saying, and you don't understand what they're saying, and it's just a whole hot mess. But like when you think of the long term, the bigger picture- like as a caregiver, or a parent, or any other adult in a kid's life- considering like the bigger picture can be really helpful. we talked about things like- like, okay, we consider Because again, like in the moment, things are really hard, but raising children to be adults that are like empathetic to other people's feelings, to be able to express what they're feeling, to be able to communicate their needs to their family members, and to future employers, and future partners, drowsiness to be like maybe a less pleasant side effect of and future friends, and that kind of thing- like that's a really great skill set to build. But good lord, it's really hard. fullness a lot of the time, but one of the things we talked Mm-hmm.

Naomi Katz:

-around like, when we eat, and what's, you know, about is like, would it be if we didn't have all these, like expected of us after we eat, and stuff like that. And I feel like the same thing is true here. Like, would you even care if your kid was having a temper tantrum in the grocery store if societal constructs- it weren't for the fact that we have all these like societal rules about where it's acceptable to show emotion?

Sadie Simpson:

Yep, exactly that. And I am by no means an expert in this whatsoever. However, I do have a couple of favorite Instagram accounts that I like to follow that like talk about this stuff in depth. So if anybody out there is listening, be sure to check out @mrchazz, @biglittlefeelings, @lisaalamode, and @manifestdestini- which is, you know, @manifestdestini does have manifest in the title of their name, however, it is a really excellent Instagram account. So, anyway.

Naomi Katz:

Awesome, and we'll definitely link to those in the show notes too.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah.

Naomi Katz:

I mean, there's- there's sort of a lot of reasons to maybe get more in touch with our negative feelings generally-

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah.

Naomi Katz:

-instead of just trying to drown them in positive vibes. It's worth questioning, like, what would be different if we just like let ourselves feel it, and approached those feelings with curiosity, and like maybe let them guide us toward our intuition a little bit.

Sadie Simpson:

Mm-hmm.

Naomi Katz:

Like maybe what- maybe we don't need to be manifesting stuff, so much as we need to be, like, recognizing our own needs and learning how to meet those needs.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah.

Naomi Katz:

Just a thought.

Sadie Simpson:

Just a thought. So, even going back to some of the correlations you made between toxic positivity and with diet culture, when we think about the weight loss industry- so this is a 72 plus billion dollar industry. There is a lot of money to be made with weight loss. And there's also a lot of money to be made off of the promise of positivity. And just like with weight loss, I think a lot of people seek out positivity gurus, and self help books, and things like that, essentially as a way to find this pathway towards cultivating some kind of lifelong change in an area that they might feel like is a struggle. So here's a fun fact- I researched this a little bit right before we started recording- the self improvement market is expected to reach $14 billion by 2025- so just in a couple of years- and there is a whole heck of a lot of money to be made and a lot of money to be spent here. So that $14 billion encompasses some different things, like self help books, or coaching, or attending in person or virtual conferences and events. And I thought it was interesting, too, that the average professional motivational speaker makes somewhere between $106 and $217,000 per year, kind of based on their experience, and, you know, and how many speaking engagements they have, and stuff like that. And we can link this information in the show notes if you want to read a little bit more. So on that same website, it was noted- and I found this to be pretty interesting- that the majority of professional motivational speakers are men. However, 70% of all self help consumers are women.

Naomi Katz:

Well, that's notable.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes.

Naomi Katz:

I mean, so literally every statistic that you just mentioned blew my mind. Like I- I totally knew that there was obviously like a capitalist aspect of this, and that there was a very- that this was a profit driven thing. Because I think everything that is out there going, you're not good enough, is ultimately about making money. But I honestly had no idea it was this big of an industry. Like, that's not- that's not a small industry.

Sadie Simpson:

No.

Naomi Katz:

I mean, it's not as big as the diet industry. But I suspect that if we really looked at the diet industry, you'd see some stuff that, like, doubled here. The fact that most of these coaches are men, and most of the consumers are women, also really kind of amazingly mirrors the diet industry.

Sadie Simpson:

Mm-hmm.

Naomi Katz:

And says so, so much about our expectations around gender, and the extent to which the patriarchy gets its tentacles into these things.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes. I mean, I'm all for people wanting to change, and better themselves, and evolve as individuals. And sometimes we need help with that. Sometimes we might need some kind of outside advice, or coaching, or therapy, or listening to podcasts, or reading books, or going to church, or something like that. And sometimes finding outside help is beneficial. But like, we need to be kind of cautious here, and use some discernment here, and just really start to kind of question stuff a little better.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah. And, you know, I think this is one of the skills we learn in doing anti diet and Intuitive Eating work-

Sadie Simpson:

Mm-hmm.

Naomi Katz:

-is that skill of critical thinking-

Sadie Simpson:

Yes.

Naomi Katz:

-and like being able to recognize black and white thinking, and, you know, recognize these systems and structures of like inequity, and you know, things like that. And once we have the skills to recognize them, it's a lot easier to see them in these other places, too. And that really, really helps us be more discerning about what we want to give our time, and our attention, and our money to.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah. Well, and I think- similar to the pursuit of weight loss, and dieting, and extreme exercising, and all this other stuff- like on the surface, often when people get into wanting to improve their nutrition, or they want to start finding consistent exercise and that kind of thing- like, usually, these things tend to start out as kind of dipping your toes in the water of diet culture. And I think the same thing can kind of be said for dipping our toes in self help too. Because a lot of times what happens is, whenever we sort of get immersed in this positivity self help culture, it kind of starts snowballing into a bigger thing than we ever intended it for it to be. Like, and I think it could get to the point where we're, like, overly self helping ourselves.

Naomi Katz:

And I think it makes sense. I think what it is is, whenever we turn over our intuition and our self trust to external sources, the more we do that, the more we need to do it, because we lose our ability to connect with it within ourselves. And so we're always looking for more rules, and more

Sadie Simpson:

Mm-hmm. instruction, and more external feedback- Yes.

Naomi Katz:

-instead of being able to just get it from ourselves.

Sadie Simpson:

Oh my gosh.

Naomi Katz:

And of course, rules, like external feedback, all of that stuff, usually comes at a cost. Whereas, just looking inside ourselves doesn't make anybody any money.

Sadie Simpson:

Totally. That is so true. Well, even 6, 7, 8 years ago, I started getting into reading and listening to personal development type books- like it was a part of a book club of recommended self help, and positivity, and mindset based books to read within a fitness business coaching program I was in. And I'll never forget, like the facilitator of the program said something along the lines of once you start down the path of personal development, you don't want to stop- like you want to keep reading more, and learning more, and improving more. At the time, like I was super into that- like I read all the books. I was like, oh, yeah, I'm into this, I'm just going to personally improve myself all over the place. And again, I think there's value in evolving as a person. But I'm not really sure that constantly hearing the voices of these so called experts is all that helpful, because, like you said, it takes away the opportunity for us to listen to our intuition, and it prevents us from cultivating self trust.

Naomi Katz:

Okay, so I have also done work with this particular business coach, and I also remember that, and totally went down that same path. And it's interesting, because- sort of in preparation for this- I was looking back through a bunch of my, like, older Instagram posts, and I was struck by the extent to which I felt like I was putting forth my own sort of toxic- maybe like fake, even- positivity. And what was so interesting about that, to me, was that, especially this particular business coach- I mean, now everybody does, and so this doesn't call anybody out in particular- but was really, really focused on the idea of authenticity and showing up authentically. And it was so interesting, because I was looking at these posts thinking that was what I had in my head, but I also had this idea in my head that that had to look this specific, positive way. And so I think it's- it's interesting to look at how this also intersects with like girlboss culture- -and- and all of that. And so, yeah, that's- it's

Sadie Simpson:

Yes. so interesting to look back on that. And I totally did the same thing. I read all the books, and I think- and I could see- like, when I was reading my old posts, I could like hear these other voices coming out in these posts. Whereas like, now I look at my posts, and I'm like, well, that's just me, like, these are the things that I'm saying, and that I believe. And it's also interesting because, at the time, I remember feeling like- like, I wasn't quite in alignment with what I was saying. Like, it didn't quite feel right. And so like, it's really sort of brings us back around to like, when something doesn't feel right, that's not something you're supposed to just positive vibes away, or like self improvement away. It is an indication that something isn't working for you. Yes. I can share some very similar experiences. Like- and it's just weird to hear you say that because like, even though we just met a couple years ago, we've- we've had a lot of similar past experiences in a lot of things. But I'm even thinking about old posts and old blog posts I had, like years and years and years ago. Same thing- like I can remember, it felt like such a struggle for me to write blog posts, or Instagram posts, or Facebook posts, because I felt like I had to say things a certain way. But really, I was trying to speak, basically, in somebody else's language. And these days, just like you said, I'm just like writing shit that I know and that I believe, and it just makes things a lot easier from that aspect, too.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah, totally.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah.

Naomi Katz:

Um, it's always so nice to get that validation of like, you're not alone, this is a real thing.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes, this stuff really happens.

Naomi Katz:

Which, again, is part of the problem with the whole concept of toxic positivity, is we're bypassing the reality of people's lived experiences.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah.

Naomi Katz:

We're invalidating these feelings. Like where you and I both had the sense of like, this doesn't feel right, but we probably at the time felt like no, it's supposed to. Like the problem is me, not the system that I'm trying to conform to.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes.

Naomi Katz:

So one thing that I think is a- like that I think specifically deserves some attention- so we've talked a lot about like negative feelings in general, and I think it's worth sort of talking specifically about anger. And one of the reasons is because, especially- and we've already talked a little bit about how like gender and the patriarchy factor into this toxic positivity concept- but those of us who are socialized as women and femmes are taught from a very early age that anger is bad- that like, it's not nice, it's not pretty, it's not ladylike- that, like, it's just not an acceptable emotion for us really. And so- the thing is, though, we're human beings, and so we feel anger. And instead of expressing it, we suppress it, and we end up turning it inward on ourselves a lot of the time. Just some examples. Like, okay, we can't find clothes that fit. But like, instead of getting angry at the clothing industry, and that lack of inclusivity there, we get angry at ourselves for having the wrong body. We spend time, and money, and like our entire lives, basically, struggling to lose weight on diets, those diets fail over and over again, because that's what diets do. But like, instead of getting angry at diet culture lies, and like all those systems, we get angry at ourselves for not trying harder, or having enough willpower, or whatever. We feel isolated, we feel ashamed, we like feel all these bad things about ourselves. But like, instead of getting angry at like the systems of oppression all around us, we get angry at ourselves for not meeting some kind of like unattainable ideal and being able to fit it. It's really messed up.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes, it is.

Naomi Katz:

And it does real damage to us, you know. And as a result, I think that it's important to really talk about anger specifically, because- and I've definitely seen this in myself, but also with like people I work with- that, when we learn to sort of access that anger a little bit better, and to point it in the right direction, it can really be kind of a turning point for our healing. It's like a really important negative emotion to have access to. The reality is that anger is an appropriate response

Sadie Simpson:

Mm-hmm. in a lot of situations. And when we learn to stop fearing anger, when we learn to stop thinking that it like says something bad about us, or something like that, then we can like allow ourselves to actually feel what I feel like is pretty justified anger at systems that are unjust, generally. And being able to have that helps us to sort of relieve some of the judgment, and the guilt, and the shame that we've been directing at ourselves all this time. That is so helpful- like on a personal level, but I think that's going to be really helpful for a lot of other people to hear too. Like being able to kind of turn that anger towards something that feels kind of productive like that- that feels nice, for one thing- but it takes away some of that blame, and that shame, and guilt off of us as individuals. And I love that. But the real thing I think we all need to keep in mind is that positivity is a privilege. Like there is a ton of privilege associated with adopting this good vibes only lifestyle. And in my mind, the spokesperson for this is Miss Rachel Hollis.

Naomi Katz:

Oh, most definitely.

Sadie Simpson:

And there are not one, but two, Maintenance Phase podcast episodes dedicated to Rachel Hollis. And I could never speak to the complexities of the things that surround this person as eloquently and as articulately as they do on Maintenance Phase. So just a plug here- please go listen to the Maintenance Phase episodes on Rachel Hollis, because they are very, very interesting. Especially- gosh- like Rachel is somebody that I've kind of followed from afar. I've never read the books. I've never listened to the podcast. But I've always had this kind of weird infatuation with Rachel Hollis- not even from like, I love you, I'm going to listen to your speeches, I'm going to go to your conferences- it was never like that. But more of like, ooh, this is kind of a reality TV show for me. I want to kind of keep up with what's happening. And after listening to those Maintenance Phase episodes, like I kind of feel validated and not alone, because apparently other people feel that way too. So I know a lot of people are into Rachel Hollis. And I'm sure a lot of people who were into Rachel Hollis- you know, that may have changed over the last year or so, because there was some really bad racism things that happened that really turned a lot of people off of Rachel- like as it definitely should have.

Naomi Katz:

Hello, how white supremacy is built into this toxic positivity stuff too.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes, exactly. But like a lot of her messaging is that we are the ones in control of our mindset, and of our destiny, and we have the power within to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps, and be more better, more positive, prettier, thinner, more successful. Hashtag girlbosses. And it's weird to think about because, technically, I'm like the ideal target audience, target demographic, for Rachel Hollis, because the large majority of the people that are drawn to her messaging are like 20 to 40 something year old white women from the south. And I think that's why it's just so prevalent, like just even in communities I've been a part of, of people recommending Girl, Wash Your Face, or any of the other Rachel Hollis books, and podcasts, and things like that. Because that is, one, like who she is as a person, and she's trying to attract other clients, and customers, and things like that sort of based on that demographic.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah, it's so interesting. And I also think it's really worth noting that there is a really heavy Rachel Hollis diet culture overlap too.

Sadie Simpson:

Oh, yeah.

Naomi Katz:

So I kind of barely knew who Rachel Hollis was for most of my life, obviously. I- like I kinda- like the name was like vaguely familiar. I like kinda had heard of the book, Girl, Wash Your Face. And I sort of knew these things went together. But then a friend of mine was in Target one day- this was a couple years ago now- and was looking at day planners, and found one that they were selling that was like by Rachel Hollis, or Rachel Hollis's company, and found something in it that was like so appalling that she actually took a picture of it and sent it to me. And it was- on every single page of this day planner, there were these like five things to do to thrive, or whatever. And one of those things was eliminate a food group.

Sadie Simpson:

Oh my god.

Naomi Katz:

Which, like, I don't even know how to express how utterly bananas it is to think that that's advice that you should follow every day. First of all, what does that even mean? What does it mean to eliminate a food group every day? Like there aren't that many food groups.

Sadie Simpson:

Like is there gonna be anything left at the end of five days?

Naomi Katz:

Right? Or is it just that you're supposed to eliminate one food group and then stick to it every day? Unclear. And that's part of why this sucks. But like, it really doesn't matter, it would have been like terrible advice regardless. How are you giving that advice, just uniformly, to everybody? It just doesn't-

Sadie Simpson:

Get rid of a food group. Oh my god.

Naomi Katz:

It's so arbitrary. And worse, like so damaging. Like that is straight up disordered eating behavior- that

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah.

Naomi Katz:

Like, the idea that just somebody's interest in you're just like, to thrive to do this eating disorder behavior for no reason, everybody. I also know people who have like lost friends, basically, because their group of friends started getting really into Rachel Hollis, and they didn't- they started to feel like their body was being judged as a direct result of their friends like picking up Rachel Hollis. And like, that's really significant. Rachel Hollis could make somebody else feel unsafe with their friends. Like that's not okay.

Sadie Simpson:

It is just wild to think that one person can have that much impact on so many people in such a negative way. And I think that's part of like the infatuation I have with Rachel is like, wow, like, how, how does this even happen? Like how- well I know how it happens. And it's because of just-

Naomi Katz:

Privilege.

Sadie Simpson:

-of things like diet, culture, privilege, capitalism, all the things. But it's just so bad, so bad.

Naomi Katz:

Well, and sort of bringing it back to like, you know, what you started with, about how this kind of positivity is a privilege- like one of the things that they really brought out in those Maintenance Phase episodes was that like, Rachel Hollis does- she's very much one of these like positive vibes, you know, manifest what you want, like you just have to want it enough kind of people, and the reality is that she comes from a lot of privilege. Mm-hmm. You know, like- like she is, you know, conventionally attractive, she is smaller bodied, she is white, she is cisgender, she is able bodied, and she is also like financially privileged. And so there's just no- she has connections. Like, there's all kinds of things that like, she didn't earn. These are unearned privileges. You know, putting yourself out there as like, oh, you just have to manifest it, and never acknowledging all of these other things, is so messed up.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes, so messed up. Well, to be honest, like there are multiple people that I've generally kind of liked and followed over the years that are kind of along the positive vibes type of people- like speakers and authors. Specifically, just thinking about like Brene Brown, Gretchen Rubin- which, we've mentioned the Four Tendencies multiple times, and that's a Gretchen Rubin thing- James Clear. Like, even though there might be people out there that we do read their books, or we have followed at some point, it still doesn't take away from the fact that they are all white, straight-sized, able bodied, wealthy- which, like they may not have always been wealthy, but now they are. But they're people that hold a ton of privilege. And positivity is branded by conventionally attractive most of the time white people for other conventionally attractive most of the time white people, and it's just not relatable or accessible for so many other people. So just like diet culture, toxic positivity is essentially another oppressive system.

Naomi Katz:

Totally. And I'm just gonna throw it out there, that like- and I don't know if I've ever mentioned this before, I always mean to whenever I bring up the Four Tendencies- whenever I talk to somebody who's like, oh, I'm gonna read the Four Tendencies or something, I always give them a trigger warning, because Gretchen Rubin- there's a ton of diet culture in that book.

Sadie Simpson:

Mm-hmm.

Naomi Katz:

Like, so often people who are talking about frameworks that might actually be helpful in terms of setting goals, or just like getting to know how you process things, and stuff like that- they frame it around exercise, or weight loss, or whatever. And so it becomes this very diet culture thing, even if what they're talking about might have some benefit outside of that.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah, yeah. And that's the same for Brene Brown There's some fatphobia and some things there stuff, too.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah. that are kind of problematic in some of the stuff that she's written. So there's- you know, it's important, what we said earlier- like to kind of use some discernment, whenever we're taking in messages from these guru, and authors, and all this other stuff. Like there's- there's always going to be stuff there that can be a little cringy, when you are reading it, slash also could be potentially triggering for some people. Yeah, absolutely. That- like using that skill of critical thinking and discernment is everything. Because, you know, in a lot of ways, that is what allows us to take what's good and leave what's not.

Sadie Simpson:

Mm-hmm.

Naomi Katz:

So I also think it's worth talking about how this kind of toxic positivity, or at least, like, ignoring of negative things shows up within the Intuitive Eating community. Because it definitely does. Like we've talked a lot about how it shows up within diet culture, or at least how those things overlap each other, but like, we also should recognize that like, the Intuitive Eating community has a little bit of an issue with this sometimes, too.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes, it does.

Naomi Katz:

It's entirely possible that one of the reasons why the Intuitive Eating has an issue with this is because the Intuitive Eating community is also largely conventionally attractive, white, able bodied, privileged women. So like, it's not like there isn't an overlap in those structures there too. But you know, we've discussed before how Intuitive Eating often gets marketed with language like freedom, and ease, and stuff like that, and, you know, it has a tendency to paint the whole Intuitive Eating process with like a much more positive, and like sunshine and rainbows brush, then it might actually. The reality is that Intuitive Eating can feel really, really hard. And it can bring up some really, really hard feelings. And that doesn't mean we're doing anything wrong. That's part of the process. And as Intuitive Eating professionals, I think we have a responsibility to, like, make sure that we're properly preparing people for that, for one. And also, when those feelings come up, that we're really like validating and holding space for those feelings within our work with people- like that we're not constantly trying to like look on the bright side for them. And like, you know, that sometimes we have to just sit with them and be like, yeah, it's hard, and it sucks, and I'm sorry.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah, I think that's really important because navigating Intuitive Eating, and all of the nuances that are involved with that, like, it is not all pretty, it is not all easy. And there are a lot of ups and downs- with anything, but I mean, I think there's a lot of ups and downs with kind of exploring Intuitive Eating as a framework and kind of applying it into our own lives. And, yeah, as professionals, I think it is important that we- we share this with people, and we prepare them, because I would never want anybody that I work with to come in with expectation that by working together through the Intuitive Eating framework is just going to solve all their life's problems. Because it's not. It may help out in many areas. You know, it may help them cultivate self trust, and critical thinking skills, and all of that other stuff. But it's not going to to be the ultimate thing that just magically whisks away all of their years of strained behaviors, and relationships, and feelings about food, and exercise, and their bodies, and all that sort of stuff.

Naomi Katz:

Absolutely. And much like with like manifesting, and positivity, and stuff, like practicing Intuitive Eating is also- like how hard it is tends to be on a spectrum related to how much privilege you might have while you're doing it.

Sadie Simpson:

Mm-hmm.

Naomi Katz:

We also, as professionals, need to acknowledge that- that my experience doing it isn't going to be the same as the experience of my client who maybe has certain identities that are more marginalized than mine, and things like that- like these are going to be different experiences. And we're not there to fix people or to like, brush away those hard feelings. Like we have to let people navigate those feelings.

Sadie Simpson:

Mm-hmm. We've mentioned Brianna Campos a number of times on this podcast before, and like, how she refers to some of this as like being able to sit in the suck. And she has this metaphor that I love of like holding a beach ball underwater. Like if you're not constantly holding it under the water, like as soon as you let go, it's gonna pop back up. You have to do something more than just push it down, or it's always gonna come back up. Like you have to actually process and address these feelings. Which means we have to acknowledge them, and not just pretend that everything is all sunshine and rainbows. We- like we have to be able to see those hard feelings, we have to meet them, and we have to be able to like address them with the same compassion and kindness that we try to meet all of our experiences with within Intuitive Eating. Having said all of that, while it is really important to honor, and feel, and experience our negative emotions, like we said in the beginning, there are some ways to start practicing shifting our focus and our perspective to being able to better see the positives when they are there. So it's not so much about manufacturing positives or ignoring the negatives. It's more about like seeing what positives actually do exist in our lives. One of those- I- I like to think of it as- like the- it's something that occurred to me while I was watching The Office. So in the context of The Office, there's this whole thing where anytime Dwight asks Jim to like do something ridiculous, his answer is always absolutely I do. And I like to think of this as like the absolutely I do technique. Ooh. I like it.

Naomi Katz:

But basically, it's just trying to find a way to, you know, have one thing a day that I absolutely want to do. It can be so small. You know, like, maybe it's just having dinner with Ben. You know, or sometimes it's, you know, client calls. Sometimes it's writing. Sometimes it's recording this podcast. But you know, just anything- like, it can be big, it can be little, but just like one thing each day that I can sort of look back on and be like, I absolutely wanted to do that. I don't know, it just makes my life feel more mine, I guess. And like, it's- it's a lot easier for me to balance what might feel negative if I can look at like this one thing- if I can really focus on this one thing that feels like something I would choose to do no matter what.

Sadie Simpson:

I like that. I think that's really helpful and an actionable thing people could implement very easily. Absolutely, I do.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah, right?

Sadie Simpson:

I like it.

Naomi Katz:

Another thing, which I think is very similar, is starting to notice very, very, very small wins during our days, and like bright spots. Again, like the smallest things. Sometimes it's just like getting your kid dressed and out to school on time. Maybe not out to school anymore. I don't know where kids are doing school anymore. I can't keep track.

Sadie Simpson:

Hopefully out to school, but you know, maybe not right now. Who knows?

Naomi Katz:

Maybe it's that you managed to feed yourself appropriately through the day. You know, maybe- maybe it's that you acknowledged a negative feeling, and like allowed yourself to acknowledge it instead of pushing it down. I don't know. Maybe it's that you showered. Literally like the smallest of things, and recognizing them as wins, instead of just like, well, yeah, that's the stuff I had to do. Like doing the stuff you have to do sometimes is an accomplishment in and of itself. And like, you deserve to see that that's a positive thing.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah, I love that. And that's kind of my favorite thing on a personal level, and even with the people that I work with- like I'm all about celebrating and just acknowledging small wins. Because sometimes things just feel really mundane, and they feel like they don't matter. But little things can really add up. And I think especially like when we're working with people- specifically talking about Intuitive Eating, and in our Intuitive Eating coaching programs- celebrating and recognizing some of those small things- kind of like you said. Like, oh, I remembered to eat breakfast today. Oh, I recognized a hunger cue that I hadn't noticed before. Like anything like that is a really big deal. And especially like when we're talking about something related to food, or nutrition, or eating, or exercise, we have this expectation that the only wins we can accomplish are these grand weight loss things, like before and after photos, or I completed a marathon in record time, or I only ate vegetables today and didn't eat cookies today, or whatever. Like we often think about these things in the context of like eating, and food, and that kind of thing. But when you're shifting to more of like the Intuitive Eating perspective, we have to start looking at wins from a completely different lens.

Naomi Katz:

Absolutely. And that's definitely something I do a lot of work with people on also. But- I feel like you touched on this a little bit when you were talking- is that, you know, earlier we talked about that most days aren't like confetti falling from the sky amazing or super terrible. They're just like, average, fine days. And I actually think that like acknowledging those small wins is another way to sort of be like, oh, this day was actually fine.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes.

Naomi Katz:

Like, no, there wasn't confetti, but it also wasn't like, I need to be under a blanket and never crawl out bad.

Sadie Simpson:

Mm-hmm.

Naomi Katz:

To be fair, some days are. But it's important to be able to recognize the days that are just fine.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes.

Naomi Katz:

And yes, when you're doing something like Intuitive Eating, it's also really important to sort of redefine what a win is. Which is a great transition to sort of the last thing, which is reframing failures. So like, I think a lot of times we think if something doesn't go exactly the way we wanted it to, like, oh, that's terrible, that's a bad thing. But the reality is that we can look at those things as learning experiences rather than failures. Okay, you ate past fullness. Is that a failure? Or is that an opportunity to to look at what your fullness cues are showing up as, what else was going on in your life, to be able to sort of reassess what comfort is for you, and you know, things like that. Like, can you learn from it? And if so, then maybe we count that as one of those small wins. Because learning is always a good thing. Reframing how we look at stuff like that is a big part of this also. It can be really helpful to have outside perspective on that. You know, whether that's a coach, or a therapist, or a friend, or partner- just because when we're looking at our own experiences, I think it's really hard to- like, sometimes you just need fresh eyes on things, basically- you need an outside party to be like, actually, that's a good thing.

Sadie Simpson:

So that's a lot about toxic positivity. And if you weren't really familiar with this phrase, or this concept, going into this episode, I guess you are now after listening to it. Because I think is important to recognize how there's so many correlations between toxic positivity and diet culture, and how we can begin to use more internal awareness, and just tune in to ourselves a little more, and learn how to trust our intuition, and just to trust our own judgment, and to take in a lot of this outside information, again, with discernment, with some critical thinking, and to apply it in a way that feels authentic to us as individuals, versus feeling like we have to be positive vibes 24/7.

Naomi Katz:

So, Sadie, what's satisfying for you right now?

Sadie Simpson:

So last fall, I launched Shame Free Fitness. Only had a couple people sign up, which was great, because it gave me the opportunity to sort of revamp how I was going to deliver this program. And over the last couple of months, I've been working towards putting it together as more of a self paced continuing education course, versus more of a group coaching situation. And I'm almost done putting all of that together. And I'm really excited with how it's turning out. Like, I'm excited to start promoting it again, pretty soon. But it's been interesting to see just how the information has come together in like a cohesive way. It feels good to me. And you know I like some organization, and structure, and that type of thing. And it feels- it feels really good. So I'm excited to start talking about that a little bit more again.

Naomi Katz:

That's awesome. I can't wait to hear more about it as you're- you're finalizing it, and like as you open it back up for folks. I'm very excited to hear more about that.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah. What's satisfying for you right now?

Naomi Katz:

Um, I think- so it's sort of two things. First, as we're recording this, like, I officially wrapped up enrollment for Nourish & Bloom, like just under a week ago. And so I've been really like laying low for the past week to like recoup some energy. And it's been really satisfying to just kind of like not put any effort into content, after like two months of like really high effort content.

Sadie Simpson:

Oh yeah.

Naomi Katz:

So that has been really nice. Because- in the interest of like actual authenticity and not toxic positivity- launch periods and enrollment periods are hard.

Sadie Simpson:

Oh yeah.

Naomi Katz:

Like they take a real toll on like energy, and just like emotions, and all of that stuff. And so, I think for the first time ever, I actually managed to make it to where I like appropriately left myself some recoup time afterwards. And so that's kind of been satisfying. But sort of on the flip side of that, I'm also feeling really satisfied about being able to put some additional energy into some things that I put off throughout my entire launch period. So things like, you know, starting to look at guests for the podcast, and like starting to do some work on like my email marketing and stuff, and like even just things around the house, like cleaning and laundry. Starting to get back into a movement routine that- like so that my neck will stop hurting all the time. These are things that are just feeling really good for me right now.

Sadie Simpson:

Nice. Well once you find a good movement routine for your neck, send it my way, because I'm on the neck struggle bus right now, too.

Naomi Katz:

Oh my god, yeah. I- there- I will say there are actually a couple of really great videos on joyn.co. That's J-O-Y-N.co, which is a platform that is like extremely body inclusive, like lots of instructors in all body sizes, and like a lot of different kinds of classes. It's also free, by the way, which is amazing. And their yoga classes are awesome. And there are a couple that I have found to be really good for like neck and back comfort. I will send them your way. And for those of you listening, I will put a link in the in the show notes as well.

Sadie Simpson:

That sounds good. Yeah, I've been really- that's been on my mind, to kind of get back into some yoga and legitimate stretching. Like my body feels like it needs it so bad. So I'll definitely check that out.

Naomi Katz:

I have found over the years that- you know now that I've like healed my relationship with yoga, as we've previously discussed- that when I go through periods of time where like I don't do much physical activity, that like my best like re-entry into that is through yoga. Like it just gets my body- like it like greases the wheels a little bit. Like it gets my body used to like moving and engaging, so that by the time I am feeling ready to go do something maybe a little bit more, like, physically demanding, I feel like I'm ready for it.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes. So if you enjoyed this podcast, we would love to connect with you over on our Instagram page. Be sure to follow us @satisfactionfactorpod. Be sure to comment, let us know what you think about this episode, give us some stories or anecdotes from your experiences with toxic positivity. And if you're listening to this in Apple podcasts, leave us a rating or review, as this is a simple thing that can help boost us up in the podcast rankings, and help us reach more people.

Naomi Katz:

Thanks, everybody. We'll catch you next week.