Now we have a commonly (overly?) used term for “things that drain us, draw us in an endless loop and cause us to lose a sense of ourselves”. How about we try and understand it better? As someone who would constantly expose to and absorb toxicity, I’ve become familiar with it. I can very well speak and write about it. Part of my life’s work was to learn to recognize it. Another part was to learn to protect myself from it. As I traveled and learned, as I experienced so many kinds of people. As I engaged in training, I found the tools to understand what was going on and how to move through. Then I started entering people’s lives as a therapist and helped them deal with toxicity.
Here are some of my learnings:
1. Toxicity is always looking for something to attach to
We are a field of energy. And the more we „accumulate”, the denser our state of consciousness will be. We are always influenced by outside energy – unless we learn to recognize, protect, and cleanse.
Protecting our energy means making a conscious effort to limit our exposure to what we find doesn’t feel good or adds heaviness to our energy. In order to protect, we first have to recognize this energy in ourselves and others.
Recognizing toxic energy in ourselves is the biggest work we will do. Sometimes people use “toxic” to define behavior they don’t agree with – or challenges that other pose us. For example, when someone sets a boundary toward us we might label it as toxic. But we have to use our discernment and differentiate between actual toxic behavior and things that simply make us uncomfortable in relationship to others.
Recognizing toxicity in ourselves is a deep act of humbleness. We attract people who vibrate at the level of consciousness as us. That being said, if we are toxic (and keep toxicity in our systems), people will be toxic, spaces will be toxic. Food we attract will be toxic. We will keep in our systems the very things we vibrate with.
So if we are to remove toxicity from our lives, we need to approach it both ways. Make sure to cleanse and protect simultaneously.
2. Identifying something as toxic is not the same as being judgemental
Oftentimes, in the spiritual community, I’ve come across this idea that we should not label or judge other people’s behavior as being toxic as they are only a mirror of ourselves.
It’s true – if we get to experience toxicity together, it means we vibrate at the same level. That doesn’t mean it stops becoming toxicity. Black is black, and white is white. You looking outside of yourself and seeing “black” in someone only means you also have some black in you. But that won’t make it more white. It’s still black. We have to be able to recognize toxicity in ourselves and others. For that, we use discernment – instead of judgment.
But what IS discernment?
We might confuse discernment with fear or judgment. Truth is, discernment is very much different from that. Discernment doesn’t analyze, critique and gossip, as does judgment. Discernment doesn’t cause fight or flight, as does fear.
Discernment allows you to cultivate appropriate, spontaneous right action. When we use our discernment, we engage in appropriate knowledge and take responsibility. We get to see things for what they are.
Discernment sounds like: “I’ve made a habit of locking my door every night. I do it without even thinking about it.”
Fear sounds like: “I wake up multiple times during the night to see if my door is locked”.
Discernment sounds like: “We should be careful while walking around that bear-populated forest. How can we stay most protected?”
Fear sounds like: “I refuse to go on a hike because there might be bears.”
Discernment sounds like: “If we are to work with her we have to consider her communication skills. What is non-negotiable to us?”
Judgment sounds like: “I can’t believe we have to work with her. She’s mean. Have you heard her complain? How can she do that?”
3. Toxicity can feel good and is addictive
When we experience toxic substances, toxic behavior from others, there are ways in which it can trigger pleasure in our systems. We get a rush, then a downfall, then the intensity we feel get confused in our brain as pleasure.
As children, we might have experienced toxicity as love – so we might have learned that love feels toxic. So when we are met with toxic behavior again, our brains also fire up with “love” emotions. As we experience toxicity, we also experience a rush in dopamine. All pain causes the central nervous system to release endorphins – proteins which act to block pain. So we basically get a high every time we get hurt!
Knowing this can empower us to understand why it’s so hard to leave toxic relationships, removing toxic substances like alcohol or caffeine. They’re the only way we know – and they’re a constant source of a high and pleasure.
We recommend our Detox Cleansing Yoga Practice.
AND THERE’S MORE…
4. Releasing toxicity can feel unsafe and hurtful
No matter if you’re detoxing from caffeine, alcohol or a difficult relationship, the first stages of a detox can feel daunting. Chemistry in your body is changing. Unfamiliarity sets in. We might even feel pain in the body.
My most recent experience is letting go of coffee. In the beginning, when my body felt it was being fed less caffeine than usual, I would experience immense pain. Headache. Every part of my body was engaging in withdrawal. I had to use all my resources to help myself function normally. Knowing that this is normal can help us avoid a setback and give us the resources we need to wait it out and move through.
5. The space we create after releasing toxins invites more energy
Releasing toxins is a real self-love practice. It might feel daunting in the beginning. But as we keep our vision and strong practice, we might become better and better at keeping away what doesn’t serve us and invite more of what does. Releasing toxicity invites a whole new version of ourselves.
What is your experience with toxicity?
What toxins are you trying to bring out of your body/system these days?
This article was first published on ispeakyoga.com by Ema