Acknowledging the Impact of Your Job Loss and Why Toxic Positivity Doesn’t Help

By Jenny Meers, Manager, Administrative Services


As an Administration Manager at a career transition company, I meet people every day who have just been told that their services are no longer required. We are there with them in those most difficult moments to let them know that they will not have to struggle through finding their next job alone.

Recently, I listened to a podcast about toxic positivity, and it affirmed for me why we at Toombs Inc. support recently unemployed people the way we do.

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA):

 “Toxic positivity is being positive at all costs. It is the mindset that even when faced with hardship, people should always maintain a positive attitude. While toxic positivity is often shared with the best intentions, it lacks compassion and can shut down opportunities for connection”.


Imagine for a moment that you just got let go from your long-term employment position. Boom. You may be experiencing a whole range of emotions: shock, sadness, anger, fear. You may even experience physical reactions to your loss such heart palpitations, sweating, shaking, and crying.

Now a person exhibiting toxic positivity would tell you not to worry, that everything is going to be fine and that it’s vital for you to focus on what is good about losing your job.

How would that feel? Well, as someone in the podcast said, it feels terrible. When a person loses their job there are often other life stresses happening simultaneously. It could be a change in health or family circumstances, an ailing parent, or financial challenges. There may be family expectations and obligations to be the breadwinner and provide for the family.

In such a complex moment, the person needs others to acknowledge that what happened sucks before they can transition into forward-thinking and optimism. The last thing you want to be told is to ‘look on the bright side’ or ‘everything happens for a reason’.

As I learned from the podcast and the CMHA, there is a big difference between healthy positivity and toxic positivity.

Healthy positivity is processing a situation through acceptance, looking at what you have control over, and cultivating some optimism and hope.

In times of adversity and loss, toxic positivity has the guise of support but the experience of negating one’s reality. One of the most important things we do as career consultants is listen and help you acknowledge and process your feelings. Knowing and navigating what to do next can be a challenge. For some people, their career is their identity and a core part of their sense of purpose. It takes time, support, and layers of adaptation to move through a career transition successfully.

Key elements to supportive career transition are:

There is a lot that you CAN control. We won’t tell you your job loss could be the best thing that’s ever happened to you, but we will encourage you to keep moving, to think positively and proactively. We will help you focus on your strengths and accomplishments, so your self-confidence does not suffer.  You can read about what to expect in your first meeting here.

If you’ve been extended career transition support from your previous employer but aren’t quite ready to engage in the next steps, I’d encourage you to pick up the phone and call us. Yes, even if you feel you’re not ready just yet. We’re pretty good at listening, and much more. All the work we do is kept completely confidential and we ensure you are in the driver’s seat every step of the way.

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