5 Ways To Navigate “Toxicity”

Toxicity is what we feel in our bodies when we have consumed dynamics that are unhealthy for us.

Toxicity is sometimes obvious but more often than not it is subtle.

The first suggestion is of course that you take yourself out of such dynamics in order to heal and rebuild your life in a way that is healthy. Equally, experience has shown me that this isn’t always possible.

If you’re in such a situation, toxicity is not something to be undermined. It brings up rage, frustration and exasperation towards those who are causing it but more than that, you’ll find that it impacts you. Toxicity is harmful not just in the moment, but also impacts mentally, emotionally physically because of the way our nervous systems store information. For this reason, it is important that you look after yourself because your conscious intervening can make a difference.

It’s common not to know what to do, especially if you do not feel there’s any fight left in you. Here are 5 small steps you could take if you find yourself in this. I hope you find this useful.

A Database Of Bodily Signals

Feeling mentally exhausted, confusion, prickly pain in the body, nausea, lethargic are some common signs of being in toxic situations. Commonly falling ill, water retention in the body, unusual bleeding, chronic anxiety, chronic suppressed rage, struggling to switch off are also signs from the mind and body. Feeling trapped and avoiding trying new things yourself can also be behavioural signals from the body. I encourage you to keep a diary of these bodily signs so you build a database of information about your body’s signals and use this awareness to work your way through. Tracking helps you build a clear picture because we can’t solve what we can’t see.

You may not see much in one day but once you track the accumulation of symptoms, you will start to build a picture of your body’s signals. Inside of toxic situations, it’s common to feel confusion. What you hear in your mind (often external voices) and what you sense in your gut and body can be conflicting. Our mind and bodies are sensitive to the intentions of others and they will, without question, flag this out to you in service of protecting you.

Invest In You

Individuals who act in harmful ways are unlikely to shift gears because those wirings are ingrained hard in their neurobiological system. They often hold unresolved traumas that are enacted externally. Waiting for them or the situation to change is unlikely and so it is imperative that you invest in yourself. Changes often happen when you invest in you. You will find yourself feeling resistance towards this – this is natural, as your mind may want to go in circles to try and solve the problem but it’s useful to ponder if that will help you at all. Invest in yourself sip by sip.

Read/listen to inspirational videos/books, meditate, play a game, use affirmations, move your body to regulate your nervous system, have clear realistic goals, learn something new, practice mindfulness, understand yourself through self-education, learn from others who experience things similar to you, reach out for help where available.

Self-Care, Self-Educate, Self-Inspire.

Create your personal haven

You may not always be able to come out of a toxic situation. It may be there at your workplace, circle of relationships or even homes. If you find yourself in such a situation, I encourage you to create some space for yourself (in a room / workspace / garden) where you are able to unwind and ‘feel home’ and relatively safe. Arrange this space so it is filled with things that remind you of goodness, hope, love, kindness. Our brain creates associations with spaces – have you ever noticed how you feel comfort when you go to your favourite restaurant? The more you create good intentions repeatedly in this space, the more your brain associates it with something positive and this leads to the body calming or empowering itself repeatedly. Using this, create a space that feels good to you, a space in which you can go inwards safely, or read a good book, or listen to some good words/music, or get creative. Over time you will begin to associate this space with goodness and you could use this to reset.

Find your purpose

Horses – did you know that covering part of a horse’s vision would encourage it to take chances it wouldn’t normally take? i.e. These ‘blinders’ would block out its peripheral vision, leaving them with only frontal vision and that gives it more impetus to take bigger leaps.

When we find ourselves in toxic situations, we find our vision blurred and flooded by the situation and struggle to get our heads out of it. Purpose helps you invest your energy single-pointedly, intentionally, blinding yourself against all the other things that are not useful going on in the periphery. This could offer you the zest of energy and encouragement to gear up, move, create, live. Explore this – find your purpose, create a plan towards this. This may gradually help you push everything else to the side, bit by bit, and support you to see the possibilities ahead of you.

Being Vague When Less is More

Toxicity tends to feed on details. The more detail an individual has, the more toxic words and actions spur forward. You may then find yourself in an endless battle where every nugget of information becomes an issue. Being vague is counterintuitive especially if you are someone with a kind heart and aspires to live in an honest world. Honesty is important, but so is discernment. There is a fine balance between awareness of your truth and sharing of that truth, and awareness of your truth and protecting that truth in service of your wellbeing. It is a very fine balance which requires your honesty to yourself and discernment.

Communication can be verbal (in the depth of information you share about something specific), or they can be in your actions (in the things you leave out). For example, “I may go there but I have not decided” instead of “I will be going there, then there, then there“. Or, “I’ll have a think about this” instead of “yes ok”. Withholding details stops you from feeding toxicity and you’re gradually untangling yourself from its hold. When individuals entangled in toxicity have nothing left to grip, they may hopefully, eventually, turn inwards and discover their own buried traumas.

I hope you found some useful suggestions. Feedback is welcome, as always.

“Believe in your infinite potential. Believe in yourself, your abilities and your own potential. Never let self-doubt hold you captive. You are worthy of all that you dream of and hope for.” – The Light in the Heart, Roy T. Bennett