|Galen Pearl signing her book
"As Pema Chodron wrote, if we really understood how miserable we make ourselves with our habitual patterns, we would practice [ridding ourselves of those patterns] like our hair was on fire." (Galen Pearl in a study for A Course in Miracles speaking of Pema Chodron, a renowned Buddhist Nun.)Toxic thoughts are not a good thing so ridding myself of them could actually make me healthier. WOW! That is a powerful possibility. I wanted to know more. This is what I found as I looked further into the idea:
Habitual thinking patterns that cause intense feelings of fear, anger, shame or guilt are not only toxic, but also addictive in nature. (Psych Center, Toxic Thinking Patterns – How Pseudo “Feel-Goods” Put a Hold On Your Brain )
"Be on the lookout for toxic thoughts so they don't wreak havoc. Again, this is why thinking carefully, rationally, and not automatically...is so important." (Psychology Today, Don't Let Toxic Thoughts Cripple Your RelationshipI had never really seen my thoughts as "habitual" in nature. Still, I do know that there are triggers that will send me into a spiral of bad memories and anger. I suppose that is what they are talking about. But there is hope I think. Charles Duhigg's latest book, The Power of Habit, tells us that there is even hope for old dogs and new tricks:
"What we know from lab studies is that it's never too late to break a habit. Habits are malleable throughout your entire life." (NPR quotes business writer Charles Duhigg)He went on to explain that a habit is your way of freeing up time for other things. I'm not sure what habitual toxic thoughts free you up for if it is not inflicting hurt on those around you and making yourself ill. He says that if you give yourself time, (like going on vacation) you can change your thought patterns. We are retired so we probably have plenty of time. If we don't we should take time...this is important.
Is you hair on fire? If it isn't, you really should do something about it. The fact is, we make our own misery because our habitual toxic thoughts are our own. I want you to think about this. What if you are actually making yourselves sick.
It is just a thought.
More: The Courage to Be Happy (It Crossed My Mind Blog)