I’ve said this many times, so it’s nice to see some empirical research showing the same thing, some of the most popular stuff we see on social media concerning “positivity”, is actually damaging:
Self-help resources can be a positive addition to mental health treatment. These tools can be guided by a professional, such as a cognitive-behavioral therapy session, or referred to alone like a self-help book. But some professionals worry that popular self-help tools that have not been empirically tested may unintentionally harm those they claim to help.
An example is positive self-statements that are based on the “law of attraction,” or the idea that your thoughts attract what happens to you. Notably, some of these materials imply that happiness is a choice. Study authors June Chun Yeung and Vivian Miu-Chi Lun proposed that these non-evidence-based self-help materials inadvertently create a victim-blaming mentality directed at individuals with depression.
It makes sense. If, as many of these well-intentioned people believe, we are ultimately the ones who control our own destiny and we either attract the things around us or are meant to learn from everything that happens to us, what other conclusion can we draw when something really bad happens?
That abuse you suffered, the crime that was committed against you, the sickness you suffer from, or that afflicted someone you love? All of it is happening because you are not good enough. Either you need to be taught lessons, or you’re not attracting the right things.
There’s no language in this belief system for “some other person decided to hurt you for no reason at all and it had nothing to do with you”. There can’t be any language for that, because the entire system is self-centered.
The world isn’t. So please stop telling people who have suffered real harm that it’s all just lessons to learn, that simply excuses away harmful behavior, provides overly simple “fixes” for mental health issues, and places the blame for it square on the victim. That’s no way to support anyone.