Negative thoughts and emotions can affect not only moods and mental well-being, but also health. But there are a few simple things that you can do to prevent the toxins from taking root.
If you’ve ever been in a room where people were arguing, grieving, or anxious, then you know what the term "toxic thoughts" means. Just as strong emotions and thoughts can spread a palpable energy throughout a room, such toxic thoughts can permeate a person’s mind and entire being in ways that pack punches just as though the person has been physically beaten up. Here are seven easy things you can do every day to keep your mind and body from feeling pummeled.
1 - Breathe: Medical research has shown consistently that in stressful or worrisome situations, taking a deep breath of clean, cleansing air can revitalize the mind and increase blood flow to the extremities. Put your hands on your heart and feel it beat with every breath. As you take a deep breath, feel your heart react. From something as simple as overcoming stage fright to something as traumatic as dealing with an emergency situation, stopping for a moment to take a deep breath will help improve your thought processes and give you the clarity you need to make good decisions. Even outside of a stressful situation, take a few moments each day to focus on your breathing and envision the clean air flowing throughout your body to produce a calming effect and inspire harmony in your daily dealings with people.
2 - Smile at yourself: Each morning when you wake up and go to wash your face or brush your teeth, don’t just glance at yourself over the sink and think about how old you’re getting, or how gray your hair is looking. Don’t begin your day with negative thoughts. Instead, stop and take a moment to look at yourself and smile. Reach out to yourself -through the mirror - and give yourself a reassuring, peaceful smile to start your day. It may be the only smile you get, or it may be the beginning of a day full of smiles when others experience the peace and happiness you are radiating. Even better, make a silly face or stick your tongue out. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Start each day with a smile.
3 - Wash your cares away: Water has been regarded for centuries as one of the greatest sources of life force. The simplest of activities in water can have a healing effect on both mind and body. Each day as you take a shower or bath, or even as you wash your hands, visualize that all the negative energy, frustration, stress, or anxiety that has built up inside your body is being flushed out of you and washed down the drain. Feel the softness and smoothness of the soap against your skin and imagine that is it the caress of a loving divine being, helping to soothe away your stress and cleanse your body of toxins that are holding you in their grip. On mornings when you know the day ahead will be a stressful one, linger for a few extra minutes in the shower and let the water cascade over you.
4 - Acknowledge your feelings: Everyone has both positive and negative feelings - that’s the way we are wired, and there’s no way to avoid it. But when you squash your negative feelings or ignore them, they can simmer and build up to the boiling point, and then release themselves at the wrong time. Hurling a poison dart at other people because of toxic thoughts that have been building up inside you is never a useful solution to a problem. Whenever a negative thought enters your mind, take the time to first acknowledge it, then deal with it either by correcting whatever problem has caused it, or by realizing that there’s nothing you can do and you should move on. Sounds simplistic, but give it a try. Also, keep in mind that you do not have to receive and internalize negative thoughts from other people. If others try to deliver toxic thoughts to you, concentrate on returning the favor, but with loving thoughts. Responding with love and caring will not only help you avoid creating more negative energy, it will probably startle the person on the receiving end, thereby diffusing the situation. And perhaps set a good example for them to follow in the future.
5 - Use your imagination: When confronted by someone who brings out the worst in you, try to think of someone you love or an image that you particularly like, and in your mind, paste that image on the face of the person standing before you. Pretend, in your mind’s eye, that the person challenging you has the face of a baby, a kitten, or a daisy. Doing so allows you to step outside the situation for a moment to clear your head before returning to the conversation. People often say to imagine your opponent in his/her underwear, which may work on occasion. But alternatively, imagine what that person’s home life is like. Imagine them in an unhappy situation or in miserable squalor (physically or emotionally) and let your compassion temper the conflict and negativity at hand.
6 - Use the power of words: Words have the power to change thoughts, emotions, and experiences. This applies not only to words spoken aloud, but also to words we hear in our heads. If you constantly telling yourself that you’re fat, stupid, old, forgetful, ugly, or anything negative, then you will begin to perpetuate those inner thoughts on the outside. Instead, fill your mind with thoughts of positive things and uplifting feelings about yourself. The same concept applies to thoughts you have about other people. If you speak badly about other people or spread negative gossip, those thoughts can poison the minds of others and yourself and affect how people treat each other. Instead of feeling anger or hate, focus on feeling compassion, and let your words remove the negativity from your mind and the minds of others.
7 - Get outside: Nature is the ultimate healer of all things physical and emotional. In stressful situations, which almost always happen indoors, we are physically separated from the nurturing abilities provided by the essential elements - earth, water, air, and sunlight. Research has shown that being separated from nature for long periods of time can actually make a person sick. So take a few moments out of your day, particularly in stressful situations, to reconnect with nature and renew your senses. Take a quick walk and look at the trees and plants, stand on a balcony and feel the sun on your face, sit beneath an umbrella listening to rain falling, or just go out and breathe in the scents around you. Realize that there are greater forces at work in the universe besides the petty, stressful squabbles that arouse negative thoughts inside.
Whatever toxic thoughts have been building up inside you are not important in the grand scheme of things, so let them go and let yourself be happy.