You’re your own ship sailing the world’s waters; no matter how strong the current, you don’t sink when the water stays outside the ship. If you’re feeling weighed down by a certain toxic environment, here’s some inspiration to keep your faith afloat and help you sail through rough waters with peace still in your ship.
“Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.” – Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements
Sometimes our positivity can spread like wildfire and ignite positivity in the behavior of others, but many times we need to be patient in that endeavor, or at least try not to get disappointed when our expectations aren’t met with the pleasurable (or speedy) outcomes that we desire.
In any case, whatever your life situation looks like right now, I’ve pondered a few ways to stay positive and at peace inside when we feel like we’re “stuck” in a toxic environment. (By the way, you’re not as stuck as you might think you are.)
I hope these suggestions serve you, and remember that particular practices might serve you better depending on how you feel today and what you see, so choose one to start with that feels right, right now.
11 Ways to Keep Your Peace Alive in a Toxic Environment
1. Send positive energy from a distance.
You can do this before you go into a situation, and let your blessings/hopefulness lead the way. Before you walk into a toxic environment, put your love cloak on and let the positivity roll out the gold carpet ahead of you; whatever you walk into, visualize yourself walking only on this gold carpet, embraced by good energy.
2. Stop fighting the situation; see it with another perspective.
When we turn a toxic environment (or anything we’d rather not face) into a battle, we don’t win because we’re directly engaged with the toxicity—we support whatever we give our attention to. The energy of fighting and self-preservation can be transformed into something more helpful and supportive of our own inner peace, however.
The key is the willingness to shift a perspective.
Here are a few examples of transforming the struggle into something else:
- If you’re focusing on protecting yourself from someone’s negativity, focus solely on understanding it. What are they really saying? Why might they feel the way they do? What could have happened that causes them to look at life from their perspective? Just try to understand, nothing more.
- See this as a larger message or lesson. What can you learn from this? Who are you without this situation, event, or topic of conversation? Where are your priorities (and thoughts) right now? How might you be contributing your energy to the communal energy pool, and can you contribute something new?
- Honor what is, while placing your attention on what could be. We can face reality without fighting it; that energy of resistance is what breeds more problems that cause us to feel resistant; it’s a cycle. Accept what is, and then build a vision of what your environment would look and feel like if it were peaceful; focus on that.
The way to experience something new in the future is to focus on something different right now; we cannot keep focusing on the toxicity if we wish to experience peace.
3. Make lists.
Writing things down has been one of my saving graces. For instance, noting what I’m grateful for on paper rewrites my focus so that I seek out positive aspects of a particular situation and look for the light in everything.
Make a list of the important things you want to accomplish today, what good things happened that you’re grateful for, and/or what you’re looking forward to. This can help you to feel “too preoccupied” with your own agenda to engage with the other person’s priorities.“Learning to ignore things is one of the great paths to inner peace.” – Robert J. Sawyer Click To Tweet
4. Breathe it out.
I mean this literally and figuratively, and like a “healthy venting session.”
In the literal sense, allow your breathe to be a tool you turn to for anything that tempts you to be anything other than loving. One of the following exercises can help:
- Breath of fire
- The 4-7-8 breathing exercise (great for sleep, too)
- The Instant Calming Sequence
- Ujjayi (“oceanic” breath)
- Equal breathing (in for four, out for four, etc)
In the figurative sense, get the thoughts and feelings that are inside of you out in the open, opting into a mutual agreement with a friend, family member, or a notebook that lets you vent. Create your own support group, preferably outside of the toxic environment you find yourself in.
Venting can save you from re-hashing the day’s events in your own mind, if others are willing to hear you out.
Here are a few things I might suggest to help you get your frustrations out without dragging others down (or fueling the frustration):
- Always end the “venting session” on a positive note, with an optimistic thought or vision.
- Don’t analyze a problem without also contemplating a solution.
- Imagine your breath and words carrying away the tension, in such a way that you can’t breathe it back in.
- Set a timer with your friend or piece of paper, and get it all out within the allotted time; when the timer goes off, wrap it all up with a hopeful thought.
5. Ask, “How may I be of service?”
When you can’t take it anymore, it’s time to give.
What can you bring to this situation? What kind of response can you select that might uplift the energy, make someone smile, ease the tension, and make yourself feel good about what you’re capable of adding to this space?'How may I be of service?' is the question to ask when we don't know what to do. Click To Tweet
6. Consult your positivity triggers.
First identify what helps you release anger and stress, and regain a sense of peace and inspiration. Your positivity triggers might be different than mine, but here are a few ideas to get you thinking about ways to redirect your thoughts in a positive direction:
- Write self-empowering quotes on sticky notes; post them around your work space, set them as alarms on your phone, or keep them tucked in your pocket for quick reference.
- Look at a photograph that easily reminds you of someone you love, a favorite place to visit, or a peaceful moment. Be with that person now, and visit that place now, through this picture in your mind.
- Consult someone who makes you laugh.
- Play an uplifting song that never fails to make you smile.
- Dub an object (a crystal, cross, or souvenir of some sort) as your “protection” and carry it with you.
- Use affirmations or mantras as elevation tools, turning to them often for reassurance of your own intentions (without getting sucked into intentions you did not set).
For a little extra encouragement, here are a few affirmations you could employ (speaking them out loud or in your head, with conviction) whenever you need the extra support:
I am not at the mercy of my environment.
I cancel my subscription to your issues. I am not subject to them, but may you be healed from them.
7. Mind your practice.
Consider yourself a visitor to the toxic space, not a resident. Honor the content of this place while remembering that this is not your world. Your world is what goes on inside of you, and the outside can stay outside.
Remember: You’re the ship, and the water will remain outside as long as you focus on the quality of what’s inside.
This means you consciously choose not to become a character in someone else’s plot. They have their practice, and you have yours. You are an onlooker, and you’re not responsible for what you see, only how you choose to see it: This is your practice.We are not responsible for what we see; we’re responsible for how we see it. Click To Tweet
8. Move, now.
When appropriate, and when you can spare the time and space for a quick pick-me-up, turn to jumping jacks, pushups, a favorite yoga pose, or any other preferred form of exercise that gives you a burst of instant energy.
Try not to wait until you have more time, though—do something, anything that’s simple, right now to get the blood pumping, even if it’s only for 10 seconds.
The beauty of physical exercise, even short bursts of it, is that it can thoroughly drain our energy from one area of life (like the drama we’ve been obsessively focusing on) and apply it the body. It’s a powerful way to redirect.Moving the body is a powerful way to quiet the mind. Click To Tweet
9. Pick up a hobby that helps you flow.
When you’re away from the toxic environment, explore ways to bring more flow into your life. This is when you’re completely absorbed in an activity that challenges your skill level—it’s not too easy so that you’re bored, but just hard enough where you need to place all your attention on mastering this moment. Time also seems to stop.
Some people call this “getting in the zone.”
For you, this could be anything from a tennis match to writing poetry, from fixing your car to playing a video game.
The benefit of flow activities is that it takes our attention away from toxicity and places it in the present moment, which bolsters peace. It also offers a lot of fulfillment in our lives, keeping us inspired and spiritually nourished. It’s a healthy outlet, one that’s conducive to happiness (according to positive psychologists).
10. Promote what you love.
Be ultra sensitive to the words you use; are you using words that promote what you love, or are they highlighting what you don’t like? Our choice of words is indicative of what we’re “paying” attention to, which tends to manifest more of itself.
Rather than being a continuous response to the people and vibrations around you, make a decision to set your own vibration right now. Get clear about what you don’t want, and don’t focus on that anymore. Focus your attention only on what you do want now, because that’s what you’ll be empowering.
Even if you can only do this for a few minutes or 10 seconds at a time, make this a practice and a priority.
Check your reactions before you make them public, and question whether or not you want more of what you’re about to react to. When you focus your attention on something, you say to the universe: “More of this, please.”
Your attention feeds the energy of what you’re focusing on and keeps it alive. Only feed what you want to grow.“What you react to in others, you strengthen in yourself.” – Eckhart Tolle Click To Tweet
11. Begin a forgiveness practice.
If you’re ready for this one, it’s a life-giver and a game-changer. Forgiveness is most definitely about feeding your capacity for living a full life.
A thing to note is that forgiving someone else, yourself, or the current situation isn’t really a one-time event, though it can be in some cases. It’s usually an evolving journey of realigning with our peace and the joy of living, instead of attaching to the pain, frustration, and chaos of the world.
When we forgive what we see in the world, we get to participate more powerfully in the creation of a new reality, one we’d like to live in.
- Which of these (or any other practices) do you think could serve a particular area of your life right now?
- What positive, hopeful thoughts and visions are you focusing on right now to fuel what you do want?
Please share any positive practices for keeping your peace, how you’ve overcome a toxic environment in the past, breathing exercises that work for you, and any helpful or hopeful stories with me in the comments.
Share these peace-keeping suggestions with someone who might appreciate a lift right now.
“Peace within is my priority.”