The Road to Recovery is Detoxifying Your Life

Lao Tzu

Lao Tzu

c. 604 B.C. – c. 531 B.C.

What does it mean to detoxify your life? Well certainly there’s rehab to physically purge your body of chemical toxins, drugs and alcohol readily come to mind. But what about psychic toxins, those things that poison your soul and slowly destroy your quality of life? I would submit that chemical toxins and psychic toxins aren’t so far removed from one another. They’re like evil partners-in-crime, working in concert to destroy your happiness.

They’re enablers. Chemical toxins allow psychic toxins to take hold of your brain and vice versa. Psychic toxins often create temptation and pathways to substance abuse. It’s like they’re walking hand-in-hand through your life, all the while wreaking havoc as they skip merrily through your existence crushing the flowers of happiness beneath their feet. They leave carnage and ruin in their wake. These are not nice guys, but they can be defeated.

Most of us can readily identify chemical toxins, it’s the lineup of the usual suspects: alcohol, drugs, nicotine and even food and caffeine can be abused. Psychic toxins can be a little trickier to identify, but no less harmful. I’m going to toss a few out here for your consideration. The list isn’t complete, but it might provide some food-for-thought and discussion. Some are obvious, others are less so. Try these on for size and tell me what you think:

  • A toxic work environment. How many of us have worked at jobs we hate? Most of us I think. How many of us have been trapped in a career path not to our liking? Again, most of us I think. Look on any social media platform late on Sunday evening and see how many of your friends are dreading going into work Monday morning. There’s also a strong likelihood that you’re one of those posting.
  • Toxic relationships. I don’t just mean marriage. This includes family, friends, acquaintances, co-workers, customers and social media friends. It’s important to identify these people and to systematically and surgically remove them from your life. You know who they are and you don’t need them. Trust me, you do not need them. They serve no worthwhile purpose.
  • Toxic media. Treat media like radioactive waste material. It will kill you indirectly through contamination. The further removed from mainstream news reporting it is the more toxic it becomes. Cable news (left and right), talk radio (left and right), the blogosphere (left and right), it’s all toxic and lethal to your psychic health.
  • Social Media. Do I really have to spell this one out for you? The narcissism, the self-indulgence, the drama, the fear and hate mongering. Dwelling day-in-and-day-out in this insipid melodrama is not healthy. Replace social media with real-life, one-on-one social interaction. Social media are not reality, it is sick fantasy that panders to our basest instincts and behaviors.

The road to recovery is detoxifying your life. Remove the negative and keep the positive. Seek a job that satisfies your need for creativity and purpose. Money is not an end in and of itself, it’s merely a means to an end. Seek relationships that nurture your wellbeing, both physically and psychically, don’t merely settle out of habit. Limit your electronic sensory input. Disconnect from news media, social media and your cellphone on a regular basis. Step off the hamster-wheel of life. Indulge in solitude, peace and quietude. Appreciate the arts. Read. Meditate. Downshift and relax. Strive for balance in your life. Take action to correct those things that interfere with your contentment and happiness. Unfortunately most of us have to be forced into action. We oftentimes, consciously or unconsciously, set events into motion that will ultimately force us to take action. I think this is a survival technique, a coping mechanism, that springs from our lizard-brain. Start today and take little steps.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Tao Te Ching, Chapter 64

 Lao Tzu

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Stephen F. Dennstedt

Photographer, Writer and World Traveler

Lima, Peru


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