How to recognise and remove toxic energy from your life

Our day to day lives are so busy we don’t often take notice of the energy around us. So if you don’t even notice it, how on earth do you remove toxic energy from your life?

The big one – People

A few years ago I was in a toxic friendship. A friend was actually gaslighting me. For those who don’t know, gaslighting means to be manipulated by psychological means into doubting your own sanity. We were close friends, so it was normal to talk about anything and everything. I started to notice after conversations if I mentioned anything about it to my friend she would play dumb and pretend not to know what I was talking about. At first, I didn’t think too much of it. After all, people forget things. Or maybe I was wrong.

Next, I was excluded from social activities with mutual friends. Sometimes I’d get, “Sorry I forgot to include you in the group text”. Or worse, telling me that she’d told me. The best (or worst) one of all was on the afternoon of a girls night to the movies. My friend rang and said “I don’t think we should go tonight. I’ve heard the movie is scary. I’m just looking out for you because I know you don’t like scary movies. I’m going to stay home too.” I was grateful as I don’t like scary movies so I stayed home. I woke up the next morning to photos on social media of the girls (including my friend) out at the movies. When I asked her about it she told me she had changed her mind at the last minute and decided to go after all.

You may be wondering why I stayed friends with somebody who treated me this way. The answer is simple. Her actions were so subtle and gradual that I didn’t notice. It wasn’t until I started questioning my own sanity that it occurred to me this behaviour could be deliberate. To confuse me even more, in between all of this strange behaviour she was incredibly nice to me. So I was constantly questioning my thoughts and feelings.

It wasn’t until physical things started happening. Things I could see with my own eyes to prove to myself that I was not crazy. I’ll explain… Say over coffee I mentioned a pair of earrings that I was looking forward to getting for my birthday. The next time I would see my friend she would be wearing them. Sometimes this was literally the very next day. I’d say something like “That’s cute. Remember I told you I wanted to get that for my birthday.” Her response was always denial. I’d mention a pair of shoes then boom! The next time I saw her she’d be wearing them. I’d name it, she’d get it! For months I was questioning whether or not I was losing my mind and didn’t dare tell anyone about it.

Until finally one day I set a trap. I deliberately mentioned a purse that I had seen that I absolutely loved and desperately wanted. FYI I absolutely did not want it, I didn’t actually like it. I simply said it to see what would happen. If she got this purse then I would know I was not going crazy.

I still remember the last time we caught up. It was at a cafe one evening. When she arrived she said “hello” and placed her new purse on the table. I think I may have smiled as I looked at it because I was so proud of myself and relieved for proving myself sane. We had dinner and chatted. I never said a word about it. There was no point. I knew what I knew. As I drove home the relief washed over me. I was not crazy and I was done with this friendship.

I’m not going to lie and say ending that friendship was easy. It broke my heart. But it also gave me back my life. I’ve forgiven that person for their actions. More for me than them. Hurt people hurt people. That needs to be understood but never tolerated. If someone doesn’t treat you with the love, respect & trust that every human deserves, you walk the hell away. In some cases run!

This is an example of having a toxic person in your life. With a toxic person comes a whole lot of toxic energy. People are the hardest things to remove. It’s not like an object you can throw in the bin never to see again. They have their own free will and are free to live their lives too. So the likelihood of you having to face that person again, even if it’s at the supermarket is fairly high. This is where your boundaries and self-worth are so important.

Removing yourself from a toxic person is the first step. Getting to know who you are and rebuilding your confidence is the next. This takes time, self-love, reflection and rebuilding trust in yourself. Give yourself the space to work through and process this adjustment in your life. Even on the hard days you must stand your ground and hold your boundaries.

So here I was. Navigating my way through what felt like a new life. Spending a heck of a lot of time on my own. This time allowed me to look back and reflect on friendships I’d had in the past. I could see a pattern where I’d always chosen an older person with a dominating personality. Having become aware of this has really helped me moving forward with the types of people I allow in to my life. If I’d never taken a step back and made space for myself I never would have been able to see this clearly.

I now listen to my gut EVERY time. Those senses are there for a reason. They are our radar alerting us to what’s right and wrong. I spent a lot of painful years ignoring those signs. I have no regrets as that would just distract me from the present. However they are massive lessons, and I choose to use these them so that I don’t miss out on a minute of my future.

Once you see something you can’t unsee it. If you choose to it would be like having Lasik eye surgery (which I’ve had and am so happy about it. You can read about it here (Eye can see clearly now – my lasik eye surgery experience ) and being given the gift of perfect vision only to decide you’d rather go back to not being able to see properly. Sure you can make it through life with blurry vision, but given the choice why would you want to?

This is where my confidence was able to grow and grow. You’ll never find a friend that knows you better or loves you more than yourself. Seriously be your own best friend!!

Toxic energy can be created by objects too

Toxic energy doesn’t start and end with people. It comes from anything that makes you feel negative. I’ll give you an example. I spent a lot of time, two years in fact packing up my parents house to be sold. It was a big house with a lot for me to sort through and because my mother has Alzheimers disease ( you can read about our journey with that here (Alzheimers – A daughters story) I had to do it alone.

Week after week, room after room I would work my way through. This is what I noticed. A lot of items gave me a feeling. Some were of happiness. Like an old toy that I remembered playing with when I was young. Or photos I’d forgotten about. Then there were some that made me feel icky because it was attached to or triggered a memory that I didn’t want to recall. Throwing out or donating the icky feeling items was incredibly therapeutic.

This caused me to take more notice of what I had around my own home that didn’t make me feel good. From clothes to statues, I went through my entire house. It wasn’t on a rampage or anything. It was very slow and controlled. If I opened my wardrobe and looked at a pair of jeans that no longer fit me and noticed that it gave me a negative feeling because I wished that they still fit me, I got rid of them.

Don’t get me wrong there is absolutely nothing wrong with keeping clothes that don’t fit if they motivate you or are sentimental. But for me these jeans made me feel like crap. Every time I saw them I felt a rush of negativity towards myself. So I donated them. If I need a pair of jeans in that size in the future I will gladly go and buy myself a pair.

Another object that I noticed created negative energy for me was a set of salad servers. You might think this one is crazy! It kind of is, but I felt what I felt. When we went on our honeymoon we bought a plastic set of salad servers from the gift shop at the resort. Then never used them. Whenever we have a salad we always use a little pair of tongs. It’s just who we are. But every time I opened the utensil draw I would see them and feel this little twinge of negativity. It was a mix between feeling bad because they never got used, and because they were from our honeymoon I should love them more right?!

After nearly 20 years it was time to let them go! I donated them to the op shop and I choose to believe that they are living their best being in a salad bowl somewhere.

The first time I was pregnant, someone bought me a pregnant lady statue. I absolutely loved it. Sadly after our son was born, he passed away. The same person who had bought me the pregnant lady statue gave me another statue that was part of the set. This was of a mother and father holding a baby. They had already purchased it while I was pregnant with the intention of giving it to us after our baby was born. After he died they still gave us the statue. The gesture was lovely. Other’s gave us gifts that they had bought while I was pregnant and I cherished them.

There was something about this statue that just crushed me. I couldn’t look at it without feeling agonising pain inside. I popped the statue in the display cabinet with the pregnant lady. As time went on and we had more babies, people bought us more of the set. In fact, I bought some myself. Eventually, we had a cupboard full. These statues were absolutely gorgeous to look at. Everyone who came over would admire them.

One day I stood in my lounge room looking into the cabinet. I looked over everyone and all but the pregnant lady gave me a twinge of sadness. To me, the pregnant lady represented hope and new life. She reminded me of an incredibly exciting time in my life. Even though I’d gone on to have four more beautiful healthy children, the pregnancies came with a lot of stress and looking at those statues seemed to spark some of those thoughts and feelings.

That night I told my husband that I’d like to get rid of them all except the pregnant lady. He looked in the cupboard at them and agreed. They were quite expensive so I chose to sell them over donating them. I’d sold all of them on marketplace within a few days. After they were gone my husband mentioned that he felt so much better when walking past the display cabinet.

For all of those years, those statues were innocently sitting on a shelf quietly making us feel sad and we had no idea. The statues themselves were harmless. To look at they were lovely. The energy they created inside of us was negative. Enough of anything that is negative over time creates toxic energy.

Conclusion

It’s a matter of taking notice of who and what is around you, and how it makes you feel. It’s usually not obvious. Think about what you do every single day. Do you find yourself cringing every morning while scrolling your newsfeed? Even for a second. You may follow someone that drives you batty with all of their posts and opinions but you think to yourself ‘it only annoys me for a second when I see it.’ Well, that’s a second too long if you deliberately choose to ignore it and see it for a second of every day for the rest of your life. Imagine if you did that every day for 30 years. That means that you would have that negative feeling for over three hours of that 30 years. And that’s just from one tiny second a day doing something that is menial AND voluntary.

There are enough things in life that we can’t control. Being intentional about removing and avoiding negativity creates space so that when life does throw us a curveball you are not already beaten down by your day-to-day. Contacts you have in your phone, old emails or messages, photos, letters, clothes, books or toys. It could literally be anything. And what causes negativity for one person could bring joy to another. There are no right or wrong, only what works for you.

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