Toxic Sea

Toxic Sea

At lunch with a friend today, we discussed our various stressors and life issues.  She paused and remarked that there was something we had not considered.  She went on to explain that she had to believe the larger context of what is happening in society today was taking its toll on our mental and emotional health.  Immediately, I believed she was on to something!  As we unpacked this spontaneous idea, it was sobering to stop and consider this larger impact.  Every single day, we are surrounded by social media posts, newscasts, reality shows, and casual conversation that disparage, discourage and dishearten.  The level of anger, fear and trauma that exists in our society may not be new, but its far-reaching broadcast is unprecedented.  Never in the history of mankind have we had such immediate access to the lowest dregs of human experience.  This has become our norm and as the old saying goes – fish don’t know they are in water.  When we are constantly surrounded by this acid rain, it becomes invisible…impossible to notice.  What we don’t see is absorbed without ceremony.  We don’t fight what we don’t observe.  That is frightening to consider when I reflect on what we are regularly besieged by.

This concern led me to sit down and draw up a battle strategy and I want to share it in hopes that we can confront this problem together.  Perhaps it will inspire others to make their own fight list.  My overall approach is based on the concept of ‘detox’.  If we are surrounded by a toxic world, then we must regularly take steps to combat this toxicity with some sort of cleansing.  Each week, I have a fasting day where I drink only liquids and everything I ingest is organic.  I always feel so good at the end of the day so I have a tangible experience to motivate me in this mental and emotional strategy.  Here’s what I have so far:

  • Develop a daily practice of taking a few minutes to notice the water we’re swimming in.  As I mentioned, we don’t fight what we don’t observe so this acknowledgement is the first step.  Use mindfulness techniques to take note of what messages are coming at you from the people around you and the media you watch/listen to.
  • Sabbath – whether you follow a faith tradition or not, you’ve probably heard this word.  I have come to believe that in my own faith perspective, the purpose of Sabbath is to re-calibrate my brain to my priorities and remind me that I am not God.  With this in mind, it makes sense to me Sabbath for each of us would look different in terms of what we do and don’t do on such a day.  What we each need to reset our brains and regain perspective on what we’re responsible for and what we are not will vary.  The trick then is to know yourself well enough to determine those needs and what activities will meet them.  (The real battle is setting aside a 24 hour period to make this happen but therein lies the lesson that I am not God – the world will continue just fine without me if I get off the merry go round for a day!).
  • Be intentional about exposing ourselves to what is noble, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy.  On a regular basis.
  • Cultivate friendships with people who offer life-giving words and make the effort to spend time with them.  `
  • Consider a recurring fast from all negative input: television, radio, social media, etc.  It is important to replace those things with something fulfilling so make a plan before you start.

I think this is enough to start with.  I’d love to hear ideas from others.  Each of us have unique mental and emotional vulnerabilities.  What I need for a cleanse is different from what others may need so the more minds contribute to this conversation, the more likely we can generate a list that has a little something for everyone!

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2 thoughts on “Toxic Sea”

  1. Natalka McIntosh says:

    I love these ideas!!! I love 15 minutes in the morning of “shut in my room alone” to pray out loud and share my heart with the Lord. Heart to heart connection. Changes everything for my day and helps me process anything on the agenda for that day or any struggles I’m going through internally. I’ve noticed a difference in speaking out loud for some reason.

    1. Andrea says:

      There is something powerful about giving voice to our thoughts, feelings, declarations of truth and commitments!

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