10 Well-Intended Phrases that Are Actually Toxic

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Last Updated on January 20, 2021

Having a strong affective network can make a huge difference during the times we feel more vulnerable or sad. Healthy communication is the best path to build a strong relationship with someone, whether we are talking about a blood relative, a life partner, or a friend. And the people we bond with the most are the ones we seek for help, comfort, or advice. While encouraging someone you love during a tough time, do not forget that toxic positivity is a real thing, and it’s bad. While you might say some things with good intentions, some levels of unreasonable optimism can be quite toxic when imposed on someone who is experiencing a bad moment. To keep you from engaging in toxic communication, we compiled a list of 10 things you shouldn’t say to someone who is feeling distressed.  10. “You’re in trouble” This sentence is the epitome of unhealthy communication. If someone comes to you with a problem, and the only thing you have to say is “You are in trouble” it’s simply best to not say anything at all. This will only reinforce the negative feelings this person is already experiencing, which can do more harm than good. Do not state the obvious. Instead, offer to listen to them, tell them you will help in any way you can, and offer them a little bit of hope.

9. “You’re strong, you can deal with it”

Healthy communication has three major foundations: knowing what you are saying, knowing how to say it, and reading the person you are saying it to. While this phrase is supposed to provide your friend with a feeling of encouragement, hearing it at a low point can have the opposite effect. Telling someone they are strong when they feel nothing but weakness can only remind them of how helpless they are. Instead, empathize with their feelings and offer your help. 

8. “I’ve been there too”

Sometimes, the easiest way you can think of to show empathy towards someone is to let them know you have experienced the same situation. But have you though? Probably not. Every single person experiences things differently – everyone has a unique background and goes through equally singular situations. Before making things about you and how you experienced a similar situation, let them know that their problem is valid. Then, proceed to tell them that you have experienced something similar, and that if they think it might help, you can share your experience with them. But mostly, be an active listener. Sometimes all people need is a shoulder to cry on. 
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