Recognizing Toxicity

Recognizing the indicators of toxicity in those people around you that cause you to feel anything but good, can help you move forward with your life rather than getting caught in their mire.

Toxic people aren’t moving; they are stagnant in their thoughts, words, and actions.

The always entertaining and awesome Andy Dooley ( speaks of 'surfing the waves of contrast' when you feel anything but happy in a given situation. At that moment, what you realize to be in opposition with what makes you feel good is, essentially, a ‘wave’ of emotion that is serving to alert you to reevaluate your beliefs and adjust your thoughts to better serve you. These ‘waves’ are awesome! They are not there to crash over you and knock the wind out of you, but rather to enable you to catch and ride them to a clearer and happier existence.

I recently had a visit from a former co-worker that I hadn’t seen in over 20 years. They were coming out to catch up and wanted to share some experiences and thoughts they’d had over the past few months/years with a “like-minded” person. I’ll not sugar-coat what happened next:

From the minute I picked them up from the airport, I saw a darkening on my horizon. Over that horizon came a rapidly building wave of contrast that I would find myself riding for the entirety of their visit. We were neither “like-minded” nor sharing; they had come to spew insipid verbal if-I-pontificate-this-often-enough-I-may-actually-believe-it-to-be-true-even-though-I-know-I’m-full-of-shaving-cream vomit. They took without giving – from hospitality to attempts to acknowledge them and/or contribute to conversation. Their’s was a self-absorbed monologue embracing and reveling in their role as victim and devoid of responsibility; a ceaseless loop of self-rationalizing babble. They were the tangible result of any “what ifs” I had even briefly let float into my self-conscious consciousness.Within an hour, I was looking at a rapidly rising wall of murky water and feeling what I imagine how encountering a Dementor might feel. I just received answers to questions I’d been asking myself for years – all in one very jarring and disruptive two days.

Thank you. Thank you. THANK YOU for all the tools I’ve learned and the knowledge I’ve gained over the years – that I share in my Workshops. With them, I was able to grab a surfboard, hop on top of that wave, and enjoy the ride. Indeed, that was not only the only thing I enjoyed from the experience. I received a glorious gift as well. While riding that wave was not, at first, pleasant (and I’ll interject here, I would not have ever considered myself a surfer), it made me realize I was an awesome surfer (Kowabunga!)…of contrast. That torrent of sheer unpleasantness just as quickly became more invigorating and beyond empowering! While on one hand, I would like to Etch-A-Sketch the experience (it sucked big time), shaking the other hand is much more beneficial because that wave contained so much detritus, when it finally passed, only tremendous clarity remained in its wake. I would not have experienced this breakthrough as quickly without it. That doesn’t mean we all have to go through hell to get a clue. It DOES mean we tend to get in our own way with our own limiting beliefs and “what ifs” that keep us from just doing something that will move us along our life’s journey in amazing and positive ways.

Our minds are amazing and serve to output our thoughts. Our beliefs are the foundation of those thoughts and those thoughts fuel what we say and do. Sometimes those waves of contrast reflect just how much we can (or actually do) get in our own way. Sometimes it takes a Tsunami-like wave and the gumption to ride it rather than let it destroy your life’s progress. To thrive in our lives, we each must be open to getting a little wet, opening ourselves up to understanding the emotional ride, and embracing the inevitable gift that comes with both. Our thoughts DO become things, as Mike Dooley ( says. Good thoughts fuel our ability to thrive.

This morning, I serendipitously came across an article (link below) that, to a degree, resonated with my experience above. My takeaway from the article: Even simply recognizing one (or all) of these indications of toxicity in anyone around you that causes you to feel anything but good, can help you move forward with your life rather than getting caught in their mire. While you can acknowledge and be compassionate, remember: 1) You are here to thrive; 2) To thrive means to be happy, to learn and to grow; and, 3) The opposite of growing is dying. Make the best of each day by pruning stagnation; and, daily steps toward tending to your own garden of thoughts, words, and actions that ultimately enable you (and those around you) to thrive. Love your life contagiously!

The two days that followed my surfing marathon, I: 1) smudged our entire apartment and let the funky juju waft away in the gentle cross-breeze; 2) took a more detailed look into some key limiting beliefs and “what if” constipators* that had come up; and, 3) gratefully welcomed the beautiful rain that moved into San Diego, nourishing nature and washing away the sludge that had only a couple of days prior cluttered and made slippery my life’s path.

Art of Charm’s Article.

*Yes, I realize “constipators” is not a word — works though!