Pollutants aren’t all about the environment, the rain forest and the planet. The same principles apply to our own lives — especially our minds
Climate change is all the rage (as it should be)…even on the recent U.S. Democratic Presidential debate stage. Don’t worry, this isn’t even going to be remotely about politics, though it did have me connecting climate change with something I refer to as ‘emotional pollution’.
Recently in my neck of the woods, the ban on single-use plastic bags went into effect, an initiative that is long overdue and has been spreading throughout my home state and beyond. Sure, at first there were complaints and grumbles here and there. Ultimately, it was just an inconvenience that people quickly ‘got over’ and began to adapt to. So why couldn’t we apply the same to our thoughts — to getting clear and honest about the things we toss around in our heads all day?
I got used to tossing a few of those recyclable shopping bags that fold into virtually nothing into my handbag, always accessible — no big deal. It’s easy and it feels good, like it has impact and makes a difference. Because really…at the end of the day, doing good feels good. And helping the environment is a great example of this. But so does thinking kindly of ourselves and others (and helping that environment).
Taking control of our thoughts is a radical act of self-care as well as a choice to contribute to the solution or the problem of emotional pollution.
When we look around our homes we can always find places where we can do a bit more — particularly when it comes to what we buy, where we buy it and what we do with it afterwards. My awareness in this arena has certainly shifted dramatically in the last decade and it’s mainly because of one thing: I woke up to the undeniable interconnectedness of it all. And you’re a Best Selfer, so you likely try to see things through the same lens and may even be farther ahead of me in this department. That said, it isn’t a race, but it sure is a lane I want to be in.
This isn’t about climate change or the environment — this is about applying the same principles to yourself and addressing the climate crisis in your own life — your emotional pollution.
Are you ready for a little clean-up?
Where are you polluting your inner environment? Some of your toxic ways may be so deeply ingrained within the fabric of your day-to-day routine that you don’t even recognize them. You don’t realize that they are slowly poisoning you and dulling down your brilliance. And how we think, judge and perceive others is also a big indicator of how we are feeling about ourselves. Ouch. But don’t beat yourself up, it’s actually a call home; a call to go inward and to clean up your own pollutants. It also highlights how we want to show up for others. Our words, deeds and energy are game-changers, not just for us, but for others. Words unsaid still hold great power to help or hurt.
Our minds are all aflutter each day with an astounding amount of thoughts bouncing about, waiting to be called on. Pay attention to me, they shriek.
Some land and luckily, some get summarily dismissed. But what we all need is an environmental officer to bring some law and Best Self order to our emotional chaos.
I’m most aware of my chaotic thoughts when I awaken in the middle of the night. Lying there on my back as the rest of the house sleeps, my mind jumps from thought to thought, wall to wall, worry to worry, regret to regret, resentment to resentment, fear to fear.
There was a time when I would do a number on myself, all in the comfort of my fluffy duvet. I’ve been through a lot in life; many ups and downs, much upheaval — and much unnecessary suffering simply because I didn’t have tools or awareness to navigate it differently. I always say that I spent much of my life sleepwalking…and it’s true. I didn’t know I could pull the needle from the record. My go-to was denial. By morning, out of sight, out of mind. Saved by the light of day. Well, not really.
I know I’m not alone in this either.
Whatever keeps you up in the middle of the night — worrying about finances, health, relationships, work, kids, etc. (and trust me, there isn’t one I haven’t worried about) — isn’t going to be solved with the same mind that created it.
Thank you, Einstein.
And besides, worry never solved anything…it just adds to the pollution.
Like a dense fog, our distractions, our denials and our distance from what is at the core of any perceived issue in our life, only perpetuates more of the same. We are taught to react rather than research what’s really going on underneath any feeling or fear. We’re taught to keep moving rather than sit in the stillness of listening to ourselves or self-soothe.
We become comfortable in the noise of our own chaos instead of the quiet whisper of our soul.
Emotional pollution affects everything. Yes, it starts with you, but it permeates the air around you — everything and everyone you come in contact with. It hides your true essence and gifts. It shows up in real time in the form of things like:
- Limited thinking
- Fear of failure
- Feelings of unworthiness
- Seeing the worst in others
- The need to be right
- FOMO (fear of missing out)
Yes, emotional pollution is an inconvenient truth, like any other pollutant on the planet.
It’s there. We deny it. We turn a blind eye and carry on. But we can do something about it. Remember, every shift of consciousness and action matters. Whether it’s a move to recyclable bags, buying a hybrid car (like I did recently) or the exploration of deep-seated emotional wounds — every shift matters. Every shift has trickle down effect.
I still wake up occasionally in the middle of the night for lots of reasons — age, wine, worry, dark chocolate, excitement, my 19-year old son’s frat parties, etc. But I handle it very differently now. First off, I don’t allow anxiety in. Nope, off limits. Been there done that. My go-to is prayer. I start thinking of the people I love (or may be ‘worrying’ about) and I think of every best-case scenario for them. I turn my own fearful thoughts to God. I ask for guidance; questions like, What do I need to see here? What is this trying to reveal? What is the deeper meaning / connection?
Not gonna lie, sometimes I lie awake for quite a while (my lists are long!). Sometimes the most amazing ideas come to mind; things I want to write about (like emotional pollution) — and you know what I do? I turn it over and then ask, OK, fine. It’s 3:30 AM. Do you want me to get up and write this blog now…because I will. Or do you want me nurture my body with sleep? I swear, by the time I get that out…I begin to drift off. It works like a charm. No counting sheep needed here.
I know this holistic health and conscious living isn’t always for the faint of heart.
It’s easier to get stuck in our un-fulfilling ways — but if you’ve ever choked on the pollution of your own mind, just know you can shift it at any moment. You can catch yourself and you can pivot.
I know right away when I’m heading down that path. I also know that I am being presented with a choice. You can see it differently. You can surrender to it and turn it over. You can also avail yourself of your truest, most vibrant, loving, passionate, creative, amazing Best Self. S/he awaits you. I promise. Choose that path.
Be your own Chief Environmental Cleaner-upper. Emotional pollution begone. There’s a new Best Selfer in town!
Where does this show up for you — where are your own thoughts a bit polluted and weighing you down? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.