Moving Out of “Toxicity”

5 Baby Steps to Empower Yourself

Toxicity is painful. It is more common than we think. Some of us may be living it, or have had in our past which leaves us feeling deeply entangled.

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 afterwards in the years after. It impacts mentally, emotionally and yes, 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 in such a situation, especially if you do not feel there’s any fight left in you. Here are 5 small baby steps you could take if you find yourself in this. I hope you find this useful.

Note: It is my personal preference not to use the word ‘toxic’, in recognition that what appears as toxicity are often buried traumas unconsciously enacted. However this word is used here as most of us get a feel for what it means.

Awareness of the signs

Your mind and body will already have sent out stress signals if they feel you’re in this position. 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. Feeling mentally exhausted, confusion, prickly pain in the body, nausea, lethargic are some of their signs. I encourage you to keep a diary of these signs so you’re aware of them and use this awareness to work your way through. Tracking the signals that mind and body send out helps you discover your solutions – because we can’t solve what we can’t see.

Empower yourself

Individuals who cause toxicity are unlikely to shift gears because those wirings are ingrained hard in their neurobiological system. They often hold unresolved traumas that their bodies wouldn’t hold and therefore are enacted externally. You may find them re-enacting things repeatedly, as if a certain pattern is live-wired. Waiting for them or the situation to change is unlikely and so it is imperative that you empower yourself. Having said that, process of empowerment isn’t a one-hit-switch. It is a process that happens over time, bit by bit. Some ways you can empower yourself include working with reading / listening to empowering goodness, meditation / affirmations, moving your body in a way that stirs up movement and strength, learning about your experience, spending more time in goodness and less time in toxicity (and making excuses to spend time in goodness) are ways you can begin to empower your mind and body. 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. Empower yourself. Bit by bit. Sip by sip. You deserve a life that is good.

Create your personal haven

We may not always be able to come out of a toxic situation. It may be there at our workplace, our circle of relationships or even our 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. Arrange this space so it is filled with things that remind you of goodness, hope, love, kindness. The more you create good intentions while in this space, the more your body energises itself there. This is because our brain creates associations with spaces – have you ever noticed how you feel a certain way repeatedly when you go to certain places? This is the brain’s associative function – places are associated with feelings. Using this trait, 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 yourself.

Find your purpose

Have you seen horses wearing blinders around their eyes? It was discovered that covering part of the horse’s vision would encourage it to take chances it wouldn’t normally take i.e. it would block out peripheral vision, leaving them with only frontal vision. 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. But what if you could find a purpose? What if this purpose could be the single thing you place your attention on, your frontal vision, to help blind yourself against all the other things that are not useful going on in the periphery? What if this purpose could offer you the zest of energy and encouragement to gear up, move, create, live? I invite you to 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.

Be Vague

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 bit of information becomes an issue. It becomes tiring and exhausting. It might be worth then asking ourselves, how much detail are we unknowingly offering? Details can be verbal (in the depth of information we share about some specific event), or they can be in our actions (in the things we leave out). For example, you can use “I may go there but maybe not” instead of “I will be going there, then there, then there“. Or, “I’ll have a think about this” instead of “but then/yes/no“. Being vague stops us from feeding toxicity. It doesn’t mean toxicity won’t be there, but it just means that it is not feeding off you and that you’re gradually untangling yourself from its hold. Eventually when individuals enacting toxicity have nothing left to grip, they will begin to turn inwards and discover their own buried traumas. Our being vague isn’t only helpful for us, but also for them in the longer run.

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