OK so maybe it’s not exactly those words that were used to describe the study, but it is what I immediately thought about when reading this article. It occurs to me that much of what passes for advice on social media can be boiled down to the “Positive Vibes Only” memes, or the longer pieces describing how you should only have friends who are a positive influence toward your goals.
Not so fast. Leaving behind all of the people who might trigger a compassionate response in you might actually be the worst thing you could do:
When the team analyzed the survey responses, they found that participants who expressed a fear of showing compassion for themselves or others were likely to feel more depressed, anxious, and stressed out during the pandemic. Compassion fears also seemed to magnify the danger people felt from COVID-19: While the threat of the virus brought on some psychological distress, this distress was worse in those who feared showing or receiving compassion.
As it turns out, tuning out people who might need some compassion is simply an act of isolation, and isolation is almost never good for our own mental health. By cutting out the people who don’t always offer up those positive vibes, we wind up disconnected and lonely. Which, of course, we can’t share with the people left around us, because we are all living in the nothing negative bubble, so you are now living a very isolated life, which leads to much MORE anxiety, stress, and depression.
Let’s face it, we all need each other. If you set about to cut all the people in your life who need your support during a difficult time because it drains you, it’s not going to be long before there’s no one to turn to when you need someone.
That’s not what good mental health looks like.