Every day, I read distressing news. A pandemic. Racial killings and rioting. Job losses. The list goes on and on, and that’s just today.
For decades, whether in business, relationships, or travel, I have run across toxic people who name, blame, and shame. Too many to list.
Enough about that though. What about solutions? Otherwise, just join the chorus of complainers.
Every thought, word, and action counts. These make a life, and many lives make the news we read.
So, here are seven ways to move from drinking the poison toward being the antidote.
1. Recognize Mindfully
Life is stressful. When disturbing stuff happens, be aware both that it is happening and how it affects us. Recognizing toxic situations and observing how we process them is important for our mental health. If we don’t do this, our thoughts creep up on us. For example, ever notice how, left unaddressed, resentments can build up in a relationship? It’s the same with our mindset.
Mindfulness is a great tool for gaining and maintaining awareness. We can cultivate mindfulness through meditation, attentive walking, and radical listening.
2. Express and Let Out Emotion
Sometimes, emotional distress or shock is enough that we need to let it out before seeking a solution. If so, find a healthy outlet rather than taking it out on others. In general, being in touch with our emotions is part of living a balanced life.
The trick is not to let intense emotions rule our life, but to give space to release and harness them for more productive steps. That could mean crying into a pillow when sad or hitting a punching bag when angry. We can also set a timer and vent our feelings to a willing friend or advisor we trust to act as a silent witness. Finding a safe, appropriate outlet allows us to express intense emotion. We need to feel it to heal it.
3. Reframe the Problem
Perspective and context make a big difference in how things appear to us. Taking a step back and looking at things differently helps us feel better and find possible solutions.
The world has had periods of unrest before. Our lives have had ups and downs already. How did people survive these times in the past? What has helped us come through our own former trials? No need to reinvent the wheel. Asking ourselves such questions helps us detach. It also helps us gain clarity on what things really matter and what things don’t.
4. Pray Away
Prayer is a powerful spiritual practice. We can pray for answers, for strength, or with hope to change a situation, but we can also pray to experience acceptance and forgiveness. Accepting what we cannot change gives us more energy to focus on what we can. Forgiving others and ourselves frees us from dwelling on past hurts.
There are many types of prayer. These include affirmation and petition (where we affirm with gratitude the resolution as though it has already occurred and where we ask for our desires to work out for our highest and best good). We don’t need to be religious. The act of surrender often makes a difference.
5. No Excuses
Some things are inexcusable. It’s okay to call these out. Not making excuses means more than not letting others “get away with murder,” however. Yes, we may need to take appropriate action, but living a life of zero excuses is also deeply more personal.
Daily, “no excuses” means personal responsibility. Often, this amounts to not letting what others have done stop us from acting on our dreams. So, too, just because we fail on our own doesn’t mean we should not try again. If we don’t like our current situation in life, try something different. Stop complaining and start living.
6. Take a Break
If something gets too much, walk away from it for a bit and come back later. Even have the wisdom to know when to walk away from some situations for good if necessary.
We can work on something else, do a fun activity, or just take a day off to find the needed space. Regardless, a pause lets us take stock of our abilities or just relax and let our subconscious work on it for when we come back fresh, if at all. However we may give that time, giving the time is important.
7. Do Something About it
Act. Period. Exclamation mark even!
Since doing nothing leads to nothing, choose at least a small action. Small actions add up, and taking steps in the right direction eventually gets us to our destination. 100 pennies saved make a dollar earned, and for every girl that a boy asks for her number, he is one try closer to getting a date. If we want financial stability or good relationships, we must start somewhere.
Even if we do not know what to do, we must do something. We all make mistakes in life, but, having considered the options, make the choice. Otherwise, we risk having all our first six practices becoming an escape mechanism from actual efforts toward achieving our goals.
So, next time you find something toxic on the news or in your personal life, clear it out and clean it up. Chances are, you won’t have to wait long for the opportunity. We can’t do it all, but we all can do something.