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I was toxically positive for a week and I almost forgot how to emote normally

What do you get when you combine vision boards, tarot cards, crystals, daily positive affirmations and manifestation? The hardcore belief system of a chronically online gen Zer with a feral TikTok account and a monthly subscription to Wild deodorant. Boomers might label us as snowflakes, but it’s truly remarkable the lengths we’ll go to in search of that one method of madness which will help us navigate the peaks and troughs of 21st century life. Be it sashaying from one trend to another or re-routing our lives because Mercury is in retrograde, we gen Zers have a way of clutching onto niche forms of self-help and not letting go—no matter how toxic they get.

These word of mouth ‘belief systems’ can be incredibly healing and comforting. Who’d realistically say no to practising a daily mantra primed to invoke inspiration and happiness? So, I began my experiment, in search of an answer as to whether or not putting these routines into practice on a regular basis would actually impact my overall mood, or whether it would be a conclusive flop.

Some important background information

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no novice when it comes to investing in ethereal and astrological therapy—I spent the majority of my time at university charging crystals under the moon and then wondering why Tom Hardy hadn’t announced himself at my front door, begging to be my boyfriend. Heck, I even own my own personal deck of tarot cards—my go-to party trick when dull conversations need spicing up.

However, I’d never really bought into the overly positive aspect of manifestation. Considering I’m completely in tune with and in favour of astrology, it’s ironic that my hypocritical tendencies would always crop up whenever someone mentions positive affirmations—or indeed their supposed healing powers. And, of course, people have long debated the concept of toxic positivity—wherein an individual is encouraged to maintain a positive mindset, no matter how much they’re struggling or how angry and upset they truly are.

@mielaklv

toxic positivity #QuickerPickerRapper #fyp #xyzbac #toxicpositivity #positiveenergy #relationships #90sAesthetic

♬ Lofi - Domknowz

I think we can all agree that always staying positive—no matter what the circumstances—is both unrealistic and extremely inauthentic. However, would it be so bad to try and emulate a somewhat positive outlook on life on a daily basis? As someone who is highly sensitive, prone to emotional outbursts and often downright stubborn, I thought it’d be an interesting experiment to try and pursue a ‘toxically positive’ mindset for an entire week and see how it played out. The purpose of this test is to truly take things to the extreme and force myself to dabble with every positive method possible. Fingers crossed I don’t go completely insane by the time the seven days are up!

My daily routine for a week

7 am to 11 am

Some ground rules. If I’m going to take this to the extreme, I need to implement a lot of changes. First things first, create a vision board to circle back to every morning. The last time I used Pinterest, I was 13 and clinically obsessed with Audrey Hepburn so I’m starting from scratch here. The hope is to skip past any surface-level aesthetic desires, and instead focus on gathering inspiration for 2023 in a healthy way.

I was toxically positive for a week and I almost forgot how to emote normally

Of course, fast forward two hours later and, as you can see in the screenshot pictured above, the whole “skipping past any surface-level aesthetic desires” flew straight out the window as soon as I was confronted with the vast array of nail inspo the platform had to offer. Nevertheless, creating the board was a genuinely enjoyable experience and if there’s one site designed to unleash your inner Elle Woods, it’s Pinterest.

Next up is compiling a list of five songs to listen to every morning. Much like my fellow gen Zers, I find music to hold an array of healing properties—aside from the fact that I’ll potentially suffer from severe hearing loss by the time I’m 40. Either way, it’s undeniable that if I listen to Phoebe Bridgers on a never-ending loop there’s no way I’ll be able to emulate a positive mindset. So, instead I chose five songs that for some reason fill me with an inordinate amount of pep and pizzazz.

In order—curated so as to build a climactic ascendancy—my playlist goes: ‘Volare’ from the film soundtrack to The Lizzie McGuire Movie, ‘Yuck’ by Charli XCX, ‘Freaky Deaky’ by Doja Cat, ‘Call Me Mother’ by RuPaul—don’t knock it till you’ve tried it—and ‘I’m The Greatest Star’ by Barbra Streisand. Before you say it, yes this might be the most emotionally unhinged collection of songs to ever exist. However, they’re some of my favourites and listening to them on repeat each morning did genuinely improve my mood.

11 am to 6 pm

The mid-day slump is a feeling we can all relate to. But when you’re toxically positive—it’s simply another opportunity to live your absolute best life. That’s why I decided to write my positive affirmations around this time of the day for the sake of this experiment.

Now, I think I might have misunderstood affirmations and manifestations in the past. As far as I was aware, manifestations occurred after three glasses of wine and in the midst of a tumultuous introspection spiral. You’d write down 20 lines of ‘I’d like a boyfriend, please,” fumble to find a makeup wipe, set a gazillion reminders to drink more water and call it a night. This, of course, is not how it’s meant to be done.

While manifestations and positive affirmations can’t literally produce results, they can allegedly influence the energy you put out into the universe, thereby inherently having a positive impact on your life.

@lauragalebe

TRUST ME. Come back at the end of 2023 and tell me if EVERYTHING you wrote didnt happen. #manifestation #scripting #scriptingmanifestation #visionboard #visionboard2023 #manifestationtips #scriptingmanifestation #lawofassumption

♬ original sound - Laura Galebe

According to Vox, the art of manifestation gained mass popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic due to people searching for a sense of control and method amid all the chaos. These quarantine trends skyrocketed in popularity. We now have entire TikTok accounts dedicated to offering the best manifestation tips and templates for worthwhile positive affirmations. So, whatever cynics may think—it’s working for a lot of people.

In fact, in regard to worldwide popularity, YouTube search data has shown that positive affirmations ranked in third position in 2022, with 5,100 monthly searches in the UK and 42,000 globally, as recorded by The Knowledge Academy.

@paigepatchouli

Drop a comment ⬇️ I love responding to everyone! ✨ #affirmations #manifestation #positiveaffirmations #manifestgreatness

♬ original sound - user1758887665900

Another very similar trend that blew up just as we entered the new year, is the Lucky Girl Syndrome. Closely associated with manifestation, this conceptualises the mindset of whatever I assume to be true, will be—aka the law of assumption. In a number of videos explaining the trend, creators boast about how after repeating the phrase “everything just works out for me” over and over again, they saw a distinctive improvement in their lives—whether that be at work, with friendships or with family.

@skzzolno

i don’t know why it works but… everything works out for us #luckygirlsyndrome #luckygirl #luckygirlsyndrom #manifestation #affirmationsoftheday #affirmations #collegelifehack #lifehack #college #collegegirls

♬ original sound - skzzolno

It should be noted that while I’m making a conscious effort to get on board with positive affirmations, it would be insensitive and irresponsible to not recognise and point out the clear associations being a so-called ‘lucky girl’ has with having privilege. As reported by The Guardian, what might seem as a harmless trend, is also reflective of a much darker reality: cruel optimism.

Superficial positive thinking can serve as a comfort to those who already hold structural and institutional power. What it doesn’t do is solve or combat systemic societal issues. Taking note of these factors is integral to anyone who wants to blindly participate in these kinds of online-grown belief systems.

@maggie_zhou

We need to talk about lucky girl syndrome and how it intersects with privilege #luckygirl #luckygirlsyndrome #manifestation #collegehacks #lawofassumption

♬ LoFi(863235) - skollbeats

With all that being said, I did make a conscious effort to consider positive affirmations on a daily basis. Mumbling phrases such as “I’m strong” and “I’m capable” to yourself might feel incredibly ridiculous in the moment—and while sitting on the tube with a bunch of strangers—but after a few days, you can begin to feel a slight change. Unlearning self-hate takes much longer than seven days, but it’s always nice to know there’s options to explore that exist outside of a Jägerbomb-induced blur.

8 pm to 11 pm

Ah, finally. The night is winding down and I only have one last thing to do: charge my crystals. For a lot of people, this is by far the strangest and potentially dumbest aspect of pursuing a toxically positive mindset. Nevertheless, I’ve always quite liked this concept and it would be scientifically reckless not to explore every facet of this lifestyle, right?

All I needed was a handful of colourful crystals, an open window and a pair of fingerless gloves. The charging process itself is quite self-explanatory: you hold up your stones, face them towards the moonlight and hope that all of the universe’s good energy gets sucked in—leaving you with a hefty and powerful source of positivity.

Quick word of warning: if you do try out this method, I’d recommend waiting until a clear night, otherwise you’ll end up with useless crystals and an extremely sore arm. Also, if you happen to have a small balcony or ledge, leaving your crystals out in the sunlight for 24 hours can help with ridding your spirit of any negativity.

My findings

There you have it, I was toxically positive for an entire week, and if we’re being completely honest, it didn’t teach me all that much. Of course, I can recognise the benefits of actively seeking out positive thoughts and pursuing a happier state of mind, but does it end up becoming more of a passive chore than active comfort?

I think the fact that a number of gen Zers base their mental health and emotional stability off of a somewhat flippant and timely TikTok trend speaks to how desensitised we’ve become. I’m not suggesting manifestation was born online, but it’s undeniable that its current existing state was morphed from online inference and opinion.

With that being said, listen to your favourite music each morning and vision board to your heart’s content. But think of these methods as a helpful aid or addition to your day, not as an official coping mechanism.

All of the most unhinged things to remember now that Mercury retrograde 2023 is almost done

If there’s one thing gen Zers excel at, it’s deflection. We all pick our own poison—carefully selecting that one excuse, justification or ploy to divert attention away from the actual problem we’re facing. For me, it’s always been in association with my astrological inclinations. Feeling tired? I’m an Aries. Ignoring important deadlines? I have a Sagittarius moon. And the pièce de résistance when it comes to deflection? Mercury is in retrograde.

Now, as we come to a close on the current cycle—let’s take a moment to reflect on why this time can be so important but also how we’ve allowed it to dictate our every move.

Wrapping up in only two days, this year’s retrograde lasts from 29 December 2022 to 18 January 2023. Within this time, a number of netizens took to TikTok to share their best tips, tricks and tantrums about the cycle. For all our astrology novices, here are the most important things to remember.

1. Figure out how a particular Mercury retrograde will affect your sign

Firstly, it’s important to remember that Mercury retrograde occurs three to four times a year and is supposedly designed to allow individuals to practise greater introspection and potentially revisit previous mistakes and decisions. Retrograde refers directly to the act of going backwards and so when Mercury is in retrograde, it corresponds to the act of the planet moving backwards in orbit (although scientifically it’s not moving backwards but simply slowing down).

However, because astrology is complex, each retrograde will mean something different for each person. For example, the current 2022 to 2023 Mercury retrograde is occurring in Capricorn. So, while overall the cycle relates to the general theme of authority—particularly in relation to any achievements and career aspirations—the retrograde will affect every individual differently depending on where Capricorn is in your houses.

@astrobabe1234

#mercuryretrograde2022 #mercuryretrogradeincapricorn #astrologytransitsexplained #astrologyforentrepreneurship #astrologyforentrepreneurs #astrologybusinesscoach #astrologyforbusiness #spiritualbusinessmentor

♬ original sound - jacquelyn⚡️spiritual baddie

Ok, bear with me here. Houses are the cosmic version of a crystal ball. There are 12 houses and each represent a key part of life, from health and money to relationships and everything in between. So, when you’re born, each planet would’ve been in a certain house—this can then inform you on what your sun, rising and moon signs are. I always keep mine jotted down in my notes app, just in case anyone questions my emotional stability.

@aintastrologyfunny

How Mercury in retrograde affects each sign. #mercuryretrograde #CODSquadUp #astrologychartexplained #ReasonForBooking #astrologytiktok #astrologyobservations #spiritualastrology

♬ original sound - What’s your sign

Thankfully, hoards of astrology creators on TikTok took it upon themselves to warn those signs most at risk of having a rough three weeks. So, if you’re feeling lost, anxious, stressed and you’re a Taurus—don’t fret, it’ll all be over soon enough.

2. Bringing the drama into 2023

One of the most entertaining things about TikTok has always been its ability to bring out the most dramatic sides of people. Combine short-form videos that are easy to edit and upload with a cohort of emotionally unhinged internet obsessives and what do you get? An online temper tantrum with over 836 million views.

@astrobellaluna

Just easing into 2023 during this Mercury/ Mars Rx period 😎 #astro #2023 #mercuryretrograde #marsretrograde

♬ Elevator Music - Bohoman
@aliodriscoll_

When is mercury out of the microwave #fyp #foryou #funny #jokes #relatable #work #wfh #corporate #9to5

♬ original sound - skinny

Football fans have their World Cup, astrologists have Mercury retrograde.

@nowayitsray

#greenscreen #fyp #EndlessJourney #MadeWithKeurigContest #astrology #zodiac #mercuryretrograde #funny

♬ Horror, suspense strange sound - DN.FACTORY

3. Beware of any exes trying to come back into your life

Now, if you receive any late night texts for your ex-partner begging for a second chance, do not fall for it. It may appear as though the stars have aligned but in reality, it’s the retrograde out to get you! Of course, meaningful relationships can occur coincidentally as the earth moves backwards. Still, it’s always best to keep an eye out for any suspicious sneaky links.

@amydemure

The pre shadow period begins early to mid December. #astrology #horoscope #zodiacsigns #zodiac #mercuryretrograde

♬ original sound - Amy

Also, according to Tarot, first dates during Mercury retrograde are never a good idea because it’s not easy to communicate, and there are too many opportunities for things to go wrong. So, if at all possible, save any exploratory online dating ventures for February.

4. Barbie is an astrology queen

I had to conclude with this one simply because it makes so much sense that Barbie would be an astrology girly. The Barbie TikTok account has dominated our FYPs over the past two years and it’s no surprise that it’s also now one of the pioneers of the horoscope community. Captioning the clip: “Raise your hand if you’ve been personally victimised by #Mercuryretrograde,” the recent video—which was posted during the 2022 October cycle—has already amassed over 880,000 views.

@barbie

Raise your hand if you've been personally victimized by #MercuryRetrograde#Barbie #Astrology

♬ original sound - barbie

Some of the best comments beneath the video include, “I peed when Barbie Glitched,” and “Barbie is just so relatable.”

And remember, if anyone makes fun of you for your keen astrological insight or understanding, it’s probably just because they’re a Virgo.