Layoffs & Toxic Gratitude

Layoffs & Toxic Gratitude

No kidding. Of course we can always count on LI to be a hot dumpster fire. But in this article, Michelle Teheux brings up a great point – why are we seeing all these, “I was part of a RIF, but it’s OK and I’m like so grateful for it” posts on LI?  WHY?!?

“If you’re on that platform, you’ve seen it. There are plenty of recent examples from people who just lost their job with Twitter or Facebook/Meta.

Well, many of them did not ‘lose their job,’ actually. They were ‘impacted by the layoffs’ at their former employer. I keep seeing that phrase.

Why don’t they want to actually say it? Why the euphemism?

Many of these folks are expressing their joy and excitement about the opportunities they are sure are just ahead. These people deny being sad about losing their job.

On the contrary, they are thrilled! They just know there are great things ahead for them.”
-Michelle Teheux

To be honest, it sounds a lot like the canned speech that George Clooney would give in Up in the Air:

“Anybody who ever built an empire, or changed the world, sat where you are now. And it’s *because* they sat there that they were able to do it.”

Riiiiight. Alternatively, it’s a hot air speech designed to keep someone getting pink-slipped that day from “acting out” before they can be ushered out the door.

“Professionalism today seems to dictate psychotic levels of faux positivity.
Why is this? Life has its ups and downs. There’s no reason to deny that. No, you don’t want to endlessly bitch or cry in public, but you also need not pretend that everything is wonderful when it’s clearly not.” -Michelle Teheux

Exactly. To me, this is not only about toxic positivity but about toxic gratitude, i.e., that we should somehow find the silver lining in everything even when there isn’t one.

I recently contracted viral food poisoning and in the process of recovering from that nightmare, I ended up with both Covid and strep. Even with insurance, I hate to know how many thousands of dollars my medical bills will be from this ordeal. Is there a silver lining here? Maybe. I guess it’s that I haven’t died. 🤷🏻‍♀️ But damn. I’d really rather not have been through this total f**king nightmare. And I feel like it’s OK to express that same sentiment regarding a layoff. You don’t have to pretend that you feel terrific about it if you don’t.

“​It is toxic gratitude that we can use to bludgeon and beat ourselves into abandoning the quiet truths of our hearts. We say to ourselves, ‘Why am I not more grateful? Look at how blessed I am!’ We can use this phrase to deny our own pain and needs (for years I used this phrase on myself to deny the pain of an emotionally disconnected marriage). While gratitude is essential (and I am extremely grateful for what a wonderful provider my children’s father is), gratitude for what is good is designed to complement, rather than compete with the ache of loneliness and the pain of loss. For gratitude to be truly healing it needs to encompass the whole of our experience, including the anger, the pain and the sorrow we sometimes feel.”


And that’s a good summary. Life has ups and downs. Our emotions do as well. The pressure of trying to be #blessed and happy and optimistic all day every day is crushing. And that includes dealing with the aftermath of a layoff.

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