Can we avoid all elements that are harmful to our health 100% of the time? No…but we can reduce our exposure significantly.
In this 4-article series, I am talking about 4 changes you can make to reduce your toxin exposure. The last article talked about choosing organic and (when applicable) grass-fed/pasture-raised/wild-caught food. Three out of the 4 changes are external factors. However, external chemicals and heavy metals are not the only toxins that result in adverse health conditions. Some toxins come from within us and this article will review internal factors that are pollutants to our health.
- Food: Consume organic foods (click here for this article)
- Internal Factors: Rid yourself of negative thought patterns and emotions
- Personal Care: Use personal care products without harmful ingredients
- Home Environment: Use non-toxic household products and eco-friendly safe home items
Negative thought patterns and emotions are damaging to our health. Emotional trauma, left unresolved, can lead to a state of constant stress in the body, which leads to inflammation.
Stress is not always a bad thing. Stress is our body’s natural response to a strong demand or threat, whether emotional or physical. If you are in danger and feel threatened, your body goes into fight-or-flight mode in order to manage and perform in the situation. However, if this is continually happening, like when there are constant negative thoughts and emotions, it throws our bodies out of balance and disrupts nearly every system in our body. It can weaken the immune system, depress our digestive and reproductive systems, deplete brain chemicals, increase the risk of cardiovascular problems, and cause us to age faster.
No one experiences perfection in their thoughts and emotions but they can experience wholeness. People who experience wholeness are those who are aware of their thoughts and emotions and have good emotional health. They understand how what they think and feel affects their behaviors, and how it all affects their life and the lives of others. Can you see how our thoughts and emotions have a cascading effect positively or negatively?
Causes of Negative Thoughts and Emotions
Many things in our life can disrupt our emotional health in a negative way. These stressors can be from external or internal factors. External factors may include things like the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, getting divorced, making a big move, having financial problems, being abused, being betrayed, having a baby, being diagnosed with a disease, etc. Internal stressors may be excessive worrying or having irrational or pessimistic thoughts about life. These kind and many others can cause trauma and upset our thought life and emotional stability. When we begin to dwell on the problem or the loss and have feelings of anger, resentment, bitterness, fear, irritability, great sadness, anxiety, depression, it triggers stress responses in our body.
Unhealthy Ways We Cope With Negative Thoughts and Emotions
Though they are unhealthy, suppression and numbing are 2 key tactics you may be using to cope with negative thoughts and emotions.
Suppression is based on intentionally blocking out emotions to avoid expressing them. Numbing is when we replace the emotions we would rather not face with other activities.
Our emotions are full of energy and when we suppress a negative emotion, that negative energy does not go away. As we continually suppress, we become clogged up and out of balance. The negative emotions slowly but consistently choke out positive energy and our body’s ability to function optimally. Just as when we eat an unhealthy diet, negative emotions starve us of life giving energy and we are vulnerable to countless illnesses.
Not acknowledging and dealing with our negativity undermines the healthy function of our mind and body and the more we stuff, the more energy we have to use to keep it there. That is unproductive and ultimately leads to a poorer quality and longevity of life.
Emotional numbing can be in the form of any activity (e.g., eating, drugs, gambling, relationships for sex, social media, etc.) we use to distract us from our thoughts and emotions. Allowing a distraction to get our minds and emotions in a more positive place for a short period can be productive and healthy. We can then come back to them to work through them so they do not linger. However, we do not want to distract ourselves continually so that we numb out negativity and not deal with the cause.
Awareness and Acknowledgement Of Our Polluting Thought Patterns and Emotions
We cannot change what we are not aware of. It is necessary for us to acknowledge our thoughts and feelings. Bringing up past trauma and emotional wounds and uncovering factors that have triggered negativity can be quite uncomfortable. It is a key reason many choose to continue not to deal with them. Sometimes dealing with the pain can seem more scary then just living with the poison stirring within us. Not wanting to move from where we are comfortable, regardless how unhealthy it may be, keeps us stuck with toxic emotions.
We need to be connected to what we are thinking and feeling and as we recognize, acknowledge, and cleanse from negativity, we have freedom and more…
- We discover things about ourselves we can then choose to change.
- We discover things about others and the environment that since we more than likely cannot change, we can seek to understand and accept. It is important to know that acceptance does not mean agreement.
- We do not allow ourselves to dwell on negative things or enable negative emotions to fester.
- We avoid saying or doing inappropriate things.
- We do not degrade our self or others
- We avoid feeling shameful. Feeling guilty in a remorseful or regretful way for something we said or did can be healthy as can genuine grief from doing something wrong or hurting someone. Shame, on the other hand, can lead to self-condemnation and being self-destructive and it comes against who we are not what we said or did.
- We avoid the vicious cycle that fuels negativity.
Ridding Ourselves of Negative Thought Patterns and Emotions
Here are some ways to support mental and emotional detox so that we stop the harmful health effects of negativity:
- Discover and uncover underlying trauma and beliefs
- Sit with difficult emotions and practice mindfulness
- Stop being critical and judging
- Practice self-care
- Reduce stress
- Have a heart of gratitude
Discover and uncover underlying trauma and beliefs: Put effort into thinking back to discover factors that may have contributed to any negativity. Once those triggers are unveiled, you can then work through them.
Sit with difficult emotions and practice mindfulness: To work through negative thoughts and emotions, you must acknowledge them and allow yourself to feel the full range of emotions that you have been keeping inside. Get comfortable being uncomfortable.
Stop being critical and judging: See things from other people’s perspective. As we view things through the lens of another, we tend to not be critical and judgmental and have more compassion and understanding. Being critical and judgmental encourages further negativity.
Practice self-care: Focus on what you need to do to take care of yourself. Not only should you prioritize personal hygiene and basic needs but you should honor yourself by doing some special activities that bring enjoyment and peace. You should also never degrade yourself or say negative things towards yourself.
Reduce stress: Remove yourself from stressful situations and prioritize self-care. Embrace stress-reducing activities and practice efforts that improve stress resilience.
Forgive: To forgive means that you accept the negative event has happened (not necessarily agree with it), you are aware of your thoughts and emotions about it, and you choose to let it go. Forgiveness is an action, not a feeling. Once you forgive, the negative feelings may not completely go away. That does not mean you have not forgiven. It means you have an opportunity to continue to replace those negative thoughts and feelings with positive ones so they align with the forgiveness choice you made. Remember: Forgiveness applies to forgiving yourself too. Research shows an association between forgiveness and better mental, emotional, and physical health.
Have a heart of gratitude: There is an association between joy and gratitude and it is being thankful that brings more joy, not the other way around. Acknowledging good aspects of our life and being thankful are powerful to our emotional wellbeing.
Love: Love is an action; it is not passive. It requires forgiveness and humility. We must choose to have love in our heart and not hate. We must choose to behave in love and not out of hurt and offense. Our love covers over wrongs done to us. Love cannot cover what has not been uncovered. Acknowledging our wounds caused for any reason enables us to choose to forgive and love.
We have all kinds of thoughts and emotions but we do not have to let them be in control. When you have a negative thought, instead of dwelling on it, replace it with positive images. When you start feeling a negative emotion, begin speaking positive affirmations. It may not come natural at first but as you practice it, it will become easier. We cannot always control what comes into our mind and a feeling we may have, but once we have it, we can control what we do with it and how we handle it. Your health is worth it!