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FLUSH: The Toxic Dead Part 2 of 2

FLUSH: The Toxic Dead Part 2 of 2

Welcome to the eleventh Toxic Type, one of the most dangerous and most insidious, one whose poisonous embrace clutches at you from beyond the grave. The Toxic may be long gone, in some cases years or decades ago, but their memories and influence still haunt the corridors of your mind.

Let us introduce the Toxic Dead.

Yet to be convinced?

But, you might counter, this person is long gone, forgotten, interred or incinerated, no longer of this earth. There’s no way they can have any influence over me. Hell, it’s both disrespectful to both them and me to even think that. If your thought process is starting to run in that direction, beware because potentially, monsters be ahead.

You have thousands of thoughts daily. It’s one of the many awesome things your brain has evolved to do. You have the use of language, or many languages if you have the gift of being multi-lingual. You have many ways and nuances of expressing yourself, how you feel and how you fit into the world, and ways in which you feel the world should relate to you. You can describe your deepest feelings, the innermost nature of your soul, and reduce your friends to tears of delight or shudderings of ecstacy or sympathy, if you have the poet’s gift.

Most of the time, we tend to think at a fairly prosaic level – what’s for dinner, does that person fancy me or are they dissing me, should I rub lard into the cat’s boil and other varieties of whatnot. Sometimes we are struck in awe, momentarily, at the beauty of the world, a flock of geese flying across a full moon and so on, trancing on the playa at Burning Man with awesome dudes. But then we revert to the usual mental clutter we’re most familiar with. Thoughts repeat themselves and save us the energy of trying more original thinking. Our minds become a petrified forest, unless we make an effort to populate them with new things and new experiences. Our brains thrive on variety, but they are also lazy and get use to the familiar and the comfortable. It conserves energy and helps us survive and fit in and so on.

In this scenario, where we prefer the comfort of the familiar to the potentially thrilling but oh-so-maybe-dangerous shock of the new, we can fall into the trap of ruminating. Which means we return to the comfort zone of the past, and contemplate things from many years ago that are most likely irrelevant, potentially toxic and don’t necessarily reflect who and where we are now, or what we want to be.

Let’s say you move into a swanky new house but your tastes have been shaped by an impecunious upbringing amongst people with poor taste that you detested (the taste, not the people, but to each their own). So into your new domicile you sashay, and you want it designed to your own style and taste and perceptions of quality. You’ve done the research, read the magazines, consulted with the top flight interior designers, shopped at the best places commensurate with your budget (or just thought fuck it and taken out a decent loan) and stamped the dojo with your imprimatur. It’s as you want it to be and the antithesis of a style you loathe and detest and was never you.

Refurbishing your mind isn’t always as easy.

You try meditation as a spring clean and find the dry rot of older, dankly contaminating thoughts still seep through. Your attempts at mindfulness are hijacked by ancestral voices proclaiming how much you suck, or trying to convince you that you’ll never achieve the fulfilment that you’re striving for. Rumination and catastrophizing performing their bitter pirouettes within your mind. People long gone still hold power over you, their gibbering voices accusing your or manipulating you to accept a version of yourself that doesn’t satisfy you, but that you don’t quite know how to break out of.

These voices are the Toxic Dead, those odious individuals from the past, whether parent, partner, friend, teacher or employer, who couldn’t wait to put you in your place, trying to force your, Procrustes like, into their physical and behavioural mold.

Not yours. You can see them as Zombie Toxics, that should remain dead and buried, kept alive only by the mental energy you waste upon them. You note with some resentment how easily they are evoked, and how, at times, their putrid thoughts and ideas seem to possess you completely. Time to de them, maybe?

Sit down, relax, breath deeply and immerse yourself in the flow of your thoughts. What comes into your present experience? How do you feel? What thoughts play over and over, again and again? Do they make you feel good and satisfied, that life is as it should be? Or do they make you doubt yourself, make you feel like a sham or a fraud (imposter syndrome is surprisingly common amongst successful people who don’t feel as if they don’t deserve to be where they are in life), or that you’ll never get what you want because you don’t merit it. Just observe these thoughts dispassionately. You can feel calm and collected or incandescently angry, but try to remain detached and note them down if you like.

Work out from whence they came. Can you remember the person who put them there, the context, the emotional context? Try to get some clarity and note it all down. This is where you begin to practice journaling.

You’re starting to identify the Toxic Dead and their influence in your life.

The next stage is to tool up like Ash fitting the chainsaw to combat the Evil Dead – exorcism and banishment.

To be continued…

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