Mindfulness: a reminder of its power to avoid toxicity

a yellow bean with a smiley face among a dozen orange beans with sad faces
Smiling bean among lots of sad faces! Flickr/jessicahtam CC 2.0

Every now and then I need reminders. I can be quite forgetful. How did I used to feel when meditation was at least a twice-weekly activity? What about when I was part of the fabulous Working with People course which had a focus on mindfulness? (This course was facilitated by the inspirational Anne Maree Wilshire.)

Meditation and mindfulness has helped me achieve some things that I really, really need. For example, it has helped me achieve ‘healthy detachment’. I am one of those people who sometimes ends up caring too much. Drive, curiosity, the desire to improve things, find solutions to problems – all attributes of my personality.

But why can’t I switch off from these sometimes. After all, I am tired!

Sometimes having feelings of frustration, doubting yourself, wondering whether you’re actually contributing to something meaningful… What a challenge…

This powerful article I found on LinkedIn explains why it is so important to get away from toxic people wherever they are eg. in social circles (I consider this to be similar to ‘toxic habits’ or ‘toxic thoughts’). It says:

The ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a direct link to your performance. TalentSmart has conducted research with more than a million people, and we’ve found that 90% of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain calm and in control. One of their greatest gifts is the ability to neutralize toxic people.

So this is Dr. Travis Bradberry’s list of 12 things to do. Travis is co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0 & President at TalentSmart.

  1. They set limits (especially with complainers) [yes! avoiding creep; very important]
  2. They don’t die in the fight [choose the right response to avoid self-damage]
  3. They rise above [this is not about thinking you’re special but about removing yourself from their irrational emotional pulls]
  4. They stay aware of their emotions [= strength]
  5. They establish boundaries [ensuring you stick to them is the tough part]
  6. They won’t let anyone limit their joy
  7. They don’t focus on problems— only solutions
  8. They don’t forget [they do forgive but won’t make the same mistake again]
  9. They squash negative self-talk. “Negative self-talk is unrealistic, unnecessary, and self-defeating. It sends you into a downward emotional spiral that is difficult to pull out of. You should avoid negative self-talk at all costs.” [wanted to put this quote in to emphasise this point!]
  10. They limit their caffeine intake [interestingly, when doing the meditation course, I really didn’t feel like coffee! I am sensitive to it so it’s obviously a bit of a toxin. The reason I like it though is for it’s warming effect and the social aspects when going with others to the cafe.]
  11. They get [a good night’s] sleep [OH YES!!]
  12. They use their support system [so important to have people in your corner!].

Aren’t these great principles? The only one I’d add is: Try to laugh! When you sit back and think about the ridiculous situations, it’s worth thinking about the things that go on as a funny (and admittedly, slightly painful) episode of Fawlty Towers or Utopia.

Oh by the way, here are some good, free meditation tracks from the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center.

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