Toxic Words of Advice That People Give

Shawna

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This topic popped into my head just now, and I figured it would be interesting to discuss. What do you think are some things people say that are words of advice, or just something people say that is meant to help the other person think more positively, but the advice is actually unhelpful or even toxic?

For me, the biggest example is "It could be worse" / "There are people who have it worse". Now, I don't mind people using these words of advice on themselves, it can remind them that they are not alone and that their situation is mild compared to others. These sentences are pretty harmless when used in this way. ^^

HOWEVER, I cannot stand when this term is said to another person. What is even more, this term can even be used out of anger against someone. In this way, it isn't even advice. I have been a victim of that before. It suggests that people are not allowed to be upset, unless they are struggling with something major. It is such a toxic thing to say. We are human. We are going to get upset, even if it seems small.

. . .

I also hope that this thread can help people to avoid saying certain things to people, by looking through it. ^^
 
"Things will happen the way they're meant to happen." Especially with regards to getting things done or falling in love.

Big fat NO, things only happen if you MAKE them happen. Fate isn't predetermined. We all control our futures by the choices we make in the present. The past and future don't matter, only the present.

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"You shouldn't be upset because there are people out there who have it worse than you."

Probably the worst advice of all time and something I've heard so many people say to others over the years, even in my intro to psychology course. Oh sorry, didn't realize it was the trauma olympics and I should base my emotions on how hard these other hypothetical people must have it.

Your feelings are always valid and everyone is fully entitled to their full range of emotions.
 
I don't like the use of a phrase such as "be grateful for what you have, some have it worse" in any capacity. just because someone is seemingly struggling more than you does not mean that your struggles are any less valid. there will always be someone who is worse off than you. they deserve to be treated with respect and care, and so do you. don't dismiss your own problems or someone else's just because, by comparison, they're "not nearly as bad".

one of my least favorite things is when people say that you should just deal with something because "oh that's the way things are and you have to accept that." no you don't, you don't have to accept that. I think growing up autistic (thus, disabled) led me into a mindset where I know I need to fight for how I feel I should be treated. I never settle for complacency if I feel like I can do something to change a situation for the better. I have a strong sense of justice, so I'll never settle for being mistreated by a job or family or society or whatever because "that's just the way it is", and I also won't settle for seeing my friends and family being mistreated either.

and I really don't like when people give advice on how to be happy when you're sad/angry/anxious/etc. emotions are supposed to coexist with each other, if you're feeling sad or angry don't suppress it and pretend to be happy. be mindful, let it have its place, and then let it go when it's ready to go. people aren't meant to be happy all the time, experiencing a whole spectrum of emotions is part of human nature. I always feel so irked when I see those "good vibes only" signs, yall can come to me with any and all vibes and I will still take care of you 💜

also hate the dreaded "you just need to try harder." I don't think I even need to say anything about that. it's so inherently ignorant and rude.
 
Many of these pieces of advice share a single commonality. They aren't necessarily useless suggestions, but they are often misapplied in a way that does more harm than good. I say that to emphasize that, as they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Though I feel some pieces of otherwise good advice can be used for ill intent as well.

My favorite is "learn to accept yourself," a lesson that can be beneficial in some contexts but is often times misapplied to the issue and is used to foster a defeatist attitude under the guise of nurturing self esteem. Is there something you don't like about yourself? Are you lacking in confidence? Well, don't try to improve, or to better yourself, or do anything about it. Just accept these facets as inevitable, even if there actually are things you can do to help it. Because surely that's the healthiest way to cope with adversity!

At its worst, I often see this directed towards minorities, essentially as an attempt to reframe problems of systemic and interpersonal trouble as a square peg refusing to fit into the round hole, rather than the square peg simply not fitting into the hole in the first place, and undermining the amount of self loathing and self denial that people in these communities face already. So even though I think this advice has some legitimate use (namely when the attributes that one has difficulty accepting are from social pressure rather than from introspection or from physical hindrances), I often find myself cringing a little when I hear or read it because of how dangerous or disingenuous it often feels.
 
I don’t know if this counts as advice persay but parents saying something is just a phase or that you’ll grow out of it. Even if something is a phase, saying that is reductive and especially avoidant of whatever problem or interest the kid currently has. Even if something is a phase that doesn’t change it has current effects, repercussions, and that you can discuss more. Like, if the kid has an obsession you can talk about it and be happy with them. If the kid is at a hard point in their life you can try and not just write it off as blowing off later. If the kid thinks something and they change later then it’s generally good that they had an open mind. Obviously, kids aren’t always reasonable but I think parents should try beyond that, and not take the stress of growing up for granted. The phrase always felt avoidant and kind of ageist to me. Personally I have an absolutely terrible experience with that brand of rhetoric.
 
Not necessarily a piece of advice, but I find it extremely toxic when older people say "you should have good memory, you're young" / "you're young, you shouldn't be experiencing [insert chronic pain here]". It doesn't work like that! Young people can also suffer from memory problems and chronic/acute pain too.
 
anything regarding "taking the high road".

there's times where it does work, but then there are times where it's just advice to allow people to get away with being awful to others.
Fully agree. Like someone is being awful to another? Half the time we're told to just "be the bigger person" and ignore them. Like no, I'm going to call them out for being a crappy human being. I'm not just going to sit there and listen to it.
 
The "other people have/had it worse" is an annoying one, or "when I was your age I did this and that and was walking miles in a snowstorm without shoes to get to school"(Mom's favorite). Yes it's not a competition or about another person. We are all reacting differently to situations. Once, one of my friend was making fun of a coworker who was scared of the vaccine shot, the guy was crying and screaming and she thought it was funny, I told her:"Imagine that instead of a needle it was a spider", she said: "I would cry and scream too!"

Our fears and struggles might not seem that big compared to others', or seem just common like "it happens to everybody" but they are still real and affecting us. I already heard someone calling "weak" another person who was still struggling after the death of their love ones years later, like if it was a just some spicy food contest.

Some others "Get over it!" "Stop stressing/thinking about that" like we could just make them magically disappear like that.

All remedies for depression "go outside" "eat well" "have hobbies" "do sport" etc... Being a bit depressed and suffering from depression is not the same thing.

One I hate "Nothing happens without a reason"....No, there is no reason, if you can take advantage of a bad situation, or get something better later, good for you but that's so unfair for some other people.
 
The "other people have/had it worse" is an annoying one
Ooooo that one. My abuser just loved using that one as a form to emotionally abuse me and gaslight me into acting the way she wanted me to behave. She’d point out people in wheelchairs in public and whisper to me “See? You don’t have it so bad! That person can’t walk so you’d better appreciate your life!” The worst way she tried to force me to “appreciate” my life was when she made me meet one of the autistic kids she helped take care of in a specialized autistic school and then she’d bring him up all the time saying how I was so “ungrateful” for being able to cross the street alone or being able to talk. She even admitted to me that she had me meet the kid to force me to “appreciate” my life and that I didn’t have it so bad even though I was constantly being yelled at and hit by her over anything that she either didn’t like or I did wrong such as not hanging a shirt up correctly or my teeth not being “clean” enough.
 
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This yeah, in the real world, you can't be a pushoever and not everything in life is meant to be forgiven either as well too be honest.
I’ll never forgive my high school bullies because they actually did ruin my life and made me suicidal. In fact my hatred and refusal to forgive my main bully for everything he did to me oddly gives me a reason to continue to try to recover from all the mental and emotional damage he caused me and some sort of power over him which is something he can’t take away from me and I believe that if I forgive him then he will win and basically get a Get Out Jail card for abusing me for four years and constantly getting away with it even when I had proof that he was bullying and would tell him that he can do absolutely horrible things to others and never get in any trouble for it because he can get away with everything if he keeps being forgiven for it all. Yeah. I refuse to let that happen and I’d rather refuse to forgive him and in the unlikely event he ever finds me and begs me for my forgiveness for all the awful stuff he did to me, I can refuse to give him what he wants and be able to dangle my forgiveness over his head and make him keep trying to get it only to be unable to and failing every time he tries to get it.
 
This entire section furthermore proves my point. I've had some horrendous stuff happen to me, and I'm told to ignore or forget it ever happened. I'm sorry, but sometimes, people also have a valid reason to have a grudge with someone no matter how many years it was. If it was serious like what was told in here, then ignoring shouldn't even be a thing. People are way too insensitive to realize that.
 
This entire section furthermore proves my point. I've had some horrendous stuff happen to me, and I'm told to ignore or forget it ever happened. I'm sorry, but sometimes, people also have a valid reason to have a grudge with someone no matter how many years it was. If it was serious like what was told in here, then ignoring shouldn't even be a thing. People are way too insensitive to realize that.
That's another crappy piece of advice people give: "jUsT iGnOrE iT", and people usually use this in a pissy way, and not actually trying to be nice. Some things just cannot be ignored!!! 💢 💢 💢 💢
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I hate when people say "just ignore it".
Yes, let's ignore trauma, possible triggers, people who stalk you nonstop that are "trolls", insults thrown at you constantly, anything else?
I been literally considering saying this too, but you beat me to it.
 
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