Mar 2, 2013

Powerful Toxic Habits: Is Your Hair on Fire?

Galen Pearl (10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place...) shared a pearl of wisdom the other day. She was writing about the power of our mind and faith to help us stay healthy, both mentally and physically.  If you have ever made yourself sick with "worry", you know that we can actually create an illness out of thin air and spread our misery to those around us. This is what Galen said:
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 Relationship 
I 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 New York Times 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.

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More: The Courage to Be Happy (It Crossed My Mind Blog)
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6 comments:

  1. I am a habitual worrier about my health. Which is odd, since I've been quite healthy for most of my life. I get injured from time to time, but I know those things will probably heal.

    When we got to Tucson in January, I asked the universe to free me from worry about my health. And I was freed. For two months I haven't worried about it. It's remarkable that I'm in the same physical condition as I would have been had I worried! Maybe this is another good habit I acquired.

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  2. Yes, I think it a good habit. I quit examining my own body each morning on waking and I feel much better. We just simply think too much.

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  3. I read Charles Duhigg's The Power of Habit -- B brought it home; she's the worrier in the family -- and thought it was pretty good. I knew that these thoughts were toxic; I didn't know they were addictive. But I believe it is so. I have a fear of flying, and I hold on to that fear because it makes me feel warm inside, makes me think I'm reasonable, lovable, endearing, human. Boy oh boy, can I kid myself or what?

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  4. I'm so glad that Pema Chodron quote caught your attention. It's one of my favorites. I've read Duhigg's book, too, and others about our thinking habits. It is surprising when we take a close look at what's going on in our minds! Great post.

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  5. Tom, you have hit a very true point in your response to your fear of flying. Isn't it interesting what we will do to ourselves?

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  6. Galen, thank you for stopping by. Your thoughts are always an inspiration to me.

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