Have to admit, I had a few toxic thoughts this weekend.
First, there was some jealousy of the many friends, acquaintances, and basically everyone surrounding me in Truckee, California who are on their way to Burning Man. This is the first year I really wanted to go, was supposed to perform, and have been living in a town right off the I-80 path to Black Rock City. But I couldn’t afford to go.
Then there was a feeling of being disconnected from one friend, my roommate, and a couple of other people I was hoping to meet up with. Feeling disconnected with one person is doable for me, but these things tend to come in threes, and end up making me feel pretty unhappy.
Yet, toward the end of the weekend, I came across the piece, 10 Ways To Transform Toxic Thoughts by Sandra Ingerman. Aha, right, there is something I can do.
Whether we are on the road or at home, we all face some of those moments or days (or weeks), but without sounding too new-agey (I’m trying hard here), we do have a choice of how to look at things. Sometimes we just need a little prompt to see things in a different light.
In that vain, here are my favorite four ways, from Ingerman’s list, to transform those ugly, unhelpful thoughts:
Breathe Through Your Heart
She says: “Place your hands on your heart and feel your heart moving as you breathe.”
We often forget both the power of breath and the power of the heart, much less the power of touch (even our own). Put all of those together, and you have a recipe for feeling calmer, safer, and less toxic.
Don’t forget breathing through your stomach. The number one thing that quiets my sometimes extremely loud head is the breath of fire, a kundalini yoga technique.
Breathing at a very fast pace seems to clear out my anxiety and leave my mind soft (yes, you are free to compare it to sex – I have no problem with that).
Express, Don’t Send
One of the issues that I was having this weekend was feeling an acquaintance had some sort of a problem with me, though I had no idea what. I sat with the feeling of anger and general pissed-off-ness (‘what did I ever do to him?’), vaguely understanding that hurt lived underneath that anger. Finally, after rolling the situation around in my head for so long that I couldn’t sleep, I realized I had to say something.
I’ve learned that in this life, with my personality, I need to express myself or I will eventually explode in a much less constructive way (to put it mildly). I actually believe most of us need to verbally express our issues, but we are taught we aren’t supposed to, that we need to keep the peace. Yet I wonder if more peace would occur if we actually expressed our feelings more often.
So I want to shift the “don’t send” part of this one to “don’t send negative thoughts and feelings.” Express what you have to say in a respectful and constructive manner. For me this weekend, I started out wanting to write an email saying, “What the hell is your problem with me?” It evolved to asking if there was something that happened which bothered him, as I was feeling hurt by his disregard, and I wanted to clear the air.
Much less toxic.
Connect With Nature
Sometimes, this is easier to do on the road than at home. I know that nature saved me this weekend. Right now, I’m lucky enough to be in a place that is filled with amazing fir trees, so many hikes it would take a lifetime to do them all, and more watering holes (of the lake variety) than most states contain.
I sat by the Truckee River on a warm rock, feet dipped in the cool water, getting my Vitamin D on. It was lovely.
You can’t help but feel better, physically and emotionally, once you get outside in nature. If you don’t have that luxury, try and have a plant or an animal close by – they can also work wonders.
Respond With Love
Ah, yes. The easiest and the hardest thing to do in life: show love. It’s especially hard to show appreciation when someone, or something, has hurt you. And feeling angry, hurt, or upset is completely valid. Just don’t let it take you down.
After fully feeling the pain, it can be really healing to respond with love to whatever has hurt you. It changes the energy of the situation, and probably even the outcome.
If you can’t seem to show love because it feels like the other person doesn’t deserve it, do it for you. Then you get to move on with your life and bring more good people into it.
So I’m sending lots of love to everyone I know and don’t know who is heading to Burning Man, to my roommate, and those I have felt a bit disconnected from. And I’m taking that love along with me to the East Coast. See you guys on the other side!
What are other things a person can do to transform toxic thoughts? Share your ideas below.