|Poison, a photo by Thorius on Flickr.|
Would you intentionally poison yourself? Probably not. But it's possible that you are poisoning your brain on a daily basis.
The poisoning we're referring to here is not a cloudy green substance that you swallow that results in wooziness or even death - it's information that you are consuming and storing in your head. When you take it in, your brain is not programmed to evaluate it. You have to choose to engage critical thinking to determine whether the information is valid. Your brain just stores it, as is, for later retrieval.
Destructive information contributes to your habits of thought, and your habits of thought lead to habits of behavior. Thought poison manifests itself later, so it's not something to be ignored or dismissed. It's all around you, and it takes many forms:
- The news, in print, online and on TV
- The "friend" who complains incessantly
- The family member who reminds you regularly what you could have been or should have been (other than the person you are right now)
- Self-talk that focuses on your sins of commission and omission, your perceived flaws and quirks
Depending upon your prior conditioning (the conditioning that you received before you really had the awareness to choose,) you might be highly sensitive to this type of brain poisoning. But to the extent possible from the whatever circumstance in which you find yourself right now, prevention is your best solution. It's much harder to dilute the effects of negative conditioning than it is to keep the poison from going in.
If you think that you might have been inadvertently pouring poison into your brain, here are some potential courses of action:
- Turn off the 24/7 news channel and take a break from the newspaper. Reduce the amount of "ain't it awful" information that you put into your head.
- Stay away from the people whose words hurt you or the people you love.
- Detach from conversations and situations that engage your poisonous side.
- Take action to manage your internal conversation with yourself. You ARE using self-talk all day, every day already. But with greater self-awareness you can manage the tone of the discussion. dilute the effects of the poison, and improve your habits of thought.
- Increase your attention on your purpose, your intended contribution, and determine a tangible next step you can take toward fulfilling it. It doesn't have to be a giant step - a small step in the right direction can work wonders to build your credibility with yourself.
- Engage in a reading and/or listening program, to absorb information that aligns with your higher purpose, builds your belief in yourself and your value, and that looks for the good in the world.
- Set goals for yourself and take regular, daily action toward them to help yourself stay focused on the nourishing aspects of your life.
Thought poisoning doesn't have to be permanent. The course of intervention can be time consuming, but the benefits significant. One additional consideration: if you have been talking and behaving from a thought-poisoned state you might be contributing to the poisoning of other people. This problem is communicable, so failure to address your own condition has implications that could stretch far and wide.