Tag Archives: Toxic

When to Know if Conflict Is Toxic


By Doug Noll

Unless you are living in an isolated cave, social conflict is inevitable. Our needs, interests, and desires collide with each other, getting in the way of our happiness. Conflict is not inherently bad, however. We need conflict to teach us, entertain us, and help us grow. We can probably do without Jerry Springer’s craziness, but a certain amount of conflict is healthy. On the other hand, we have also experience unhealthy conflict. When the conflict becomes chronic and repetitive, it is toxic.

Worse, emerging research shows that toxic conflict kills just as surely as cancer, heart disease, or diabetes. Recent studies reveal that frequent arguments with partners, relatives, friends or neighbors are associated with a doubling to tripling in the risk of death from any cause. We are social beings and toxic conflict apparently creates stressors that shorten our lives.

Knowing the difference between healthy, good conflict and unhealthy, toxic conflict is important information.

Here are some signs that indicate toxic conflict: Continue reading

7 Steps to Dealing with Extreme Emotions

Do you ever feel like your emotions are so intense, you’d just rather not experience them?

These may be toxic emotions, like anger, jealousy, or guilt. But they may be neutral or even positive, but the intensity of the feeling is almost too much to bear.

While fielding questions in the heart of NYC’s Union Square for The Chopra Well series, SPIRITUAL SOLUTIONS, Deepak was approached by Kersten with the predicament: “How do I deal with extreme emotions?” In the past, Kersten said, she has tried to avoid her emotions. Now when she experiences them, they “come in great force.”

This seems to be a conundrum in our culture. Americans especially love getting emotional over their favorite football teams and the latest controversies of political campaigns. But in our personal lives, who wants to be the one laughing the loudest at the movie theater or saying “I love you” first to a sweetheart? Balance is a virtue; moderation is key.

In response to Kersten’s dilemma, Deepak shares a 7-step process to release emotional toxins. It may come as surprise to many, though, that the process focuses on experiencing emotions fully and then releasing those that get in the way. The steps originally featured in Deepak’s book, The Ultimate Happiness Prescription, and follow as such:

1.     Take responsibility for your present emotion.
2.     Feel it in your body.
3.     Label your feeling.
4.     Express what you feel.
5.     Share what you feel with someone you trust.
6.     Release the toxic feeling through a ritual.
7.     Celebrate the release and move on.

As you work through the steps, imagine that you are metabolizing the emotion. Your body, mind, and soul need to process feelings, just as you process food or toxins, so that they don’t make you ill. Don’t shy away from the experience, as raw as it might get.

First, take responsibility for what your body and mind are experiencing. Feelings occur within you, though they may be triggered by external stimuli. There are always alternate ways of responding. Deepak emphasizes that we have the power to feel and respond exactly as we wish.

Feel the emotion in your body. Close your eyes and meditate on the feeling. You may experience sensations in certain parts of your body – tension, tingling, aching. Notice the feeling without any attachment to it.

Label the feeling; identify it. The Boogie Man isn’t so scary if you learn his name is Albert. Give the feeling a name. Irritation? Fear? Anticipation? Once you label it, you already have the upper hand.

Express what you feel by saying it out loud and writing it down on a piece of paper. It can help to frame from first person, second person, and third person. This may help you understand it from a slightly new perspective.

Share the feeling with someone you trust – a loved one or friend. This will help you verbalize the progress you are making in dealing with the emotion.

Release the toxic feeling by performing a ritual. Deepak tells Kersten that this may entail burning the piece of paper on which you wrote your feelings, throwing it to the wind, singing, dancing, or doing yoga. This symbolically releases you from the experience.

Celebrate the process and get on with your life. Allow yourself to be free of the emotion and recognize the hard work you did to overcome it. Then go have some fun! You deserved it.

Do you have a problem you’d like Deepak’s help with? Submit your questions in the video’s comments section!
Subscribe to The Chopra Well for weekly SPIRITUAL SOLUTIONS and more.

Further resources:

For an even more in-depth outline of the seven steps, check out this article by Deepak Chopra.

What Are The Seven Principles of Manifesting Your Desires? Ask Deepak!

How Does Forgiveness Heal? Ask Deepak?

Memories and Emotions: All in the Mind or the Brain?

Participate in the 5-day Emotional Freedom experience at the Chopra Center.

Seven Ways to Release Anger Out of Your Body

Originally published July 2012

EWG’s 2010 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides – Excellent!

Dr. Andrew Weil, a renowned medical expert on natural health and wellness, speaks about the health effects of pesticides in a video interview with EWG.  He says we should all avoid our exposure to toxic pesticides in our food.

How do we reduce exposure? Try to buy certified organic crops when you can as chemical pesticides can’t be used.  There is research to show that when we eat organic, the measurable levels of pesticides in our tissues drop.

He goes on to say for those who don’t have access to organic or can’t afford it,  learn which varieties of  products are most likely to carry the most pesticide residue and try to buy those foods organic.

The EWG has put together the ‘Clean 15′ list of crops which are lowest in pesticides.  If you are on a tight budget, these are the conventionally grown foods you can concentrate on.

The ‘Dirty Dozen’ list are foods you should avoid if they are not organically grown.

A BIG thank you to the EWG for putting this information together!  You can view the short video and article here and download the printable Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides.

To your health,

Kim Duess


PHOTO (cc): Flickr / spisharam

Cleaning out Toxic People

When it comes to cleaning toxic people from your life it is similar to clearing out toxic energy fom your home. Magic Candles and special incense along with ringing Balinese bells and clapping out corners are some of the tools used for basic space cleansing in a physical space.

Sometimes this negative energy comes from a home or office being stagnant and empty for too long. Sometimes it’s because a negative person was there. And maybe you were even in a negative place and left your imprint. Something I learned years ago from the Kabbalah Center in Los Angeles is the phrase, "You are right, but I am the light."

The meaning of this is that it doesn’t matter who is right. What does matter is that you remain the light – the centered happy person. And when you notice that you are being surrounded by less than excellent people – toxic people – it means it is time to clean house. Clean friends. Cut ties. Make different plans. Go new places.

Most importantly, you need to CHANGE your own perception. Because when YOU CHANGE it changes those around you. The rule I learned long ago is that you cannot change others. But you can change yourself. And when you vibrate at a higher positive level, you will attract others who are vibrating at that same level.

Do whatever you need to do in the physical world to vibrate where you want to be so that you attract those who are also vibrating at that same level. This gets rid of toxic people from your life.

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / DOS82

Keep A Clean House Without Chemicals

What if I told you that every time you wipe down your counters, scrub your tub, or wash your windows you might actually be making your home less healthy? Seems counterintuitive, but the unfortunate truth is that most typical home cleaning products are chock full of harsh, hazardous chemicals. What, then, to do? We talked to Annie Bond, author of Clean and Green, editor of the Green Chi Cafe blog and expert on chemical-free home care about how to keep your home comfortably clean, without subjecting yourself to a dangerous toxic stew.

1) Stock up. In the cupboard under Bond’s sink, there are but six items: baking soda, vinegar, washing soda, a good soap, detergent and tea tree oil. If it suits your taste, you can add the occasional spritz of lemon juice or other essential oils like oregano, cinnamon, and clove to these six basics. Of the detergent, Bond says that they “aren’t found in nature, and aren’t totally non-toxic,” but for homes with hard water, soap alone will leave behind scum. “Check the signal word on the bottle,” Bond recommends. Any sterner warning than “caution,” and she says to stay away. She recommends Seventh Generation,Natural Choices Refillables or Ecover for the safest detergents.
2) Follow a recipe. You’ll need to blend the basic ingredients above for the particular task at hand- washing windows, disinfecting countertops, cleaning the oven, scrubbing floors and so on. Vinegar is a great acidic cleanser that dissolves icky buildups and serves as a great disinfectant- the standard 5% solution you find at the supermarket has been shown to kill 99% of bacteria, 82% of mold, and 80% of germs. Baking soda and washing soda are alkaline minerals that cut through grease and neutralize acidic odors. Essential oils can also disinfect, while providing a nice fresh scent (see below).
But, really, you should just follow Bond’s tried and true recipes (here). “My recipes haven’t changed in 20 years,” she says.”It’s actually a challenge for my career!”
3) Use common scents. “Fragrance,” when listed on a product label, should be a big red flag, as manufacturers commonly use this term on an ingredient list to disguise their use of phthalates, which are some scary hormone disruptors that GOOD editor Siobhan O’Connor describes as “a category of chemical plasticizers that has been linked to gender-bendy birth defects in baby boys.” Rather than buy some manufactured “scent,” consider citrus and herbs or an essential oil like lavender. Also pay attention to the nature of the stink, and get to eliminating the source. “For alkaline odors, use an acid like vinegar,” Bond advises. “For acidic odors, use baking soda.”
4) Harness the sun. On a bright spring or summer day, hang as much of your sheets, upholstery and other fabrics outside on a clothesline. The sun naturally kills dustmites and can be the most natural antibacterial agent.
5) Elbow grease. Put some muscle into it. 75 years ago your great-grandparents kept their home perfectly clean without any of these crazy chemicals that clutter the cupboards of Americans today. How? By using the basic, simple ingredient above, and scrubbing like heck.
Photo (cc) by Flickr user Uncleweed
This post originally appeared on www.refresheverything.com, as part of the Pepsi Refresh Project, a catalyst for world-changing ideas. Find out more about the Refresh campaign, or to submit your own idea  today.

A Brief History Of “AminoSweet”, The Chemical Formally Known As Aspartame

Over a year ago, I went on a conscious crusade to cut chemicals out of my diet. I started reading up and found that those five or so Diet Cokes a day I was having to "stay slim" and "energized" were doing more than the exact opposite. One of the reasons: a chemical called Aspartame.

Aspartame is an artificial sweetener used in many diet products because of its nearly non-existent caloric count. The funny thing about Aspartame is that it was actually denied FDA approval eight times between 1973 and 1996. In ’96, it was approved even though the chemical has been documented with 92 possible side effects of ingestion including blindness, hair loss, weight gain (oh irony!), migraines and Alzhemier’s, just to name a few. In the end though, as with most things, money and connections won out with the FDA Commissioner Arthur Hull Hayes. Hayes overruled scientists’ findings that the chemical was not fit for consumption. That same year, he left the FDA under investigation of accepting kick backs from FDA regulated organizations and went to go work for the man who invented Aspartame, G.D. Searle. Since then, Aspartame has racked up more reports to the FDA than all the other food additives combined with multitudes of class action lawsuits to boot.

So why is it approved still, you may be wondering.

Well, I’m sure it has to do with the fact Aspartame is now a one billion dollar industry.

Aspartame is in over five thousand things our society consumes, not just diet sodas. Aspartame can be found in cereals, jams, chewing gum, even "vitamins". That’s why you have to read the labels! And don’t just look for "Aspartame" in the ingredients but look in your shopping cart and coffee cup. NutraSweet and Equal are both made of Aspartame. 

And now, the newly branded, fresh new look of Aspartame… AminoSweet!


Oh, because that’s another side effect linked to Aspartame. Along with Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and a score of psychological disorders.

The new name is to play upon the fact that Aspartame is to "remind the industry that aspartame tastes just like sugar, and that it’s made from amino acids — the building blocks of protein that are abundant in our diet." Too bad the same freaking product also ruins your pH balance, the metabolism of your amino acids, your protein structure and releases excessive dopamine, so say hello to increased chances of depression if reading this article hasn’t already bummed you out. 

Although sugar is not particularly good for you, natural (unbleached) sugar is light years from ruining your life like this propaganda product. Since cutting Aspartame and the products associated with it out of my life, I am a noticeably happier and healthier person. No more mood swings, no more six days at the gym. My mind is in better shape and so is my body because my metabolism isn’t run down with toxins like Aspartame. If there is anything I could give to the Intent community, it would be my intent of ridding your diet of this horrible and dangerous additive. Read your labels and be aware of what you consume! In the end, they may be the difference between your health and a hospital bed.

Huffington Post, America’s Deadliest Sweetener Betrays Millions…
Skinny Bitch, Rory Freedman & Kim Barnouin
PS. Despite the name and how badly I did NOT want anything to do with Skinny Bitch, it is one of the best nutritional books out there. Even if you don’t want to live a vegan lifestyle as they suggest, it is still highly informative and I deeply suggest it to anyone who wants to know more about the food and chemicals we consume.

Cover photo: CC Flickr//PunchingJudy

Legislation for a Greener and Safer Home

Do you know how many substances in your household products are potentially dangerous? Well, neither does the U.S. government. As I’ve mentioned before, a piece of legislation called the "Safe Chemicals Act of 2010" introduced in April aims to change this and bring regulations governing chemicals into the 21st century.

Currently, chemical safety is regulated by the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act. Designed to grant the EPA the power to control toxic substances, this 34-year-old law has not produced the information needed to identify hazardous chemicals and asks regulators to meet an absurdly high burden of proof before taking positive action against a given substance. In this scenario, new chemicals on the market are considered safe unless regulators can prove otherwise. As a society, we are paying an incredible cost for not vetting new chemicals before including them in all manner of products from cosmetics to household cleaners, to plastic containers and baby toys.

Take for example, the results of a recent study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). They tested the umbilical cords of ten babies — and found almost 300 chemicals in the blood of these pure, innocent newborns. Do these chemicals cause any harm? The fact is: no one knows for sure. But the current legislative scheme requires EPA to prove that there is harm before these chemicals can be regulated. Protection of the public devolves into an argument about the sufficiency of scientific evidence.

Currently there are only guidelines for how industry must use the signal words "Caution," "Poison," or "Danger" on consumer product labels. Companies are left to interpret the guidelines, and it is not in the interest of the companies to put such scary words on labels. So the communication of potential risks suffers under the conflict of interests.

The Safe Chemicals Act, on the other hand, takes the position of "The Precautionary Principle," which says that industry must have sufficient evidence to prove a chemical is safe for the intended uses. The new legislation would empower the EPA to demand complete safety data, set safer exposure thresholds, place the burden of proof of chemical safety on manufacturers prior to introduction, take immediate action to reduce risks created by those substances already proven harmful, and encourage the development of green chemistry alternatives.

At Seventh Generation, we don’t buy the "regulation stifles innovation" argument put forth by so many manufacturers, unless of course they mean stifling the development of more toxic chemicals.

Current chemical control laws typically create incentives for innovation by substituting "safer" alternatives for chemicals known to be hazardous. The law of unintended consequences ensures that many of these attempts result in the substitution of "unknown" chemicals for chemicals with known hazards. Often, the substitutes are chemical cousins of the bad actors, likely to have similar hazards — but not yet enough science to "prove" the danger.

Seventh Generation is behind The Safe Chemicals act 100%, believing it to be a huge positive step forward for industry and consumers alike. I believe that elevating the safety of our customers and planet to the highest level has only made our company more competitive, not less.

I also believe that this legislation is what’s best for our economy. Most of the industries fighting this bill have not been job creators. However, when you look at the statistical growth of the sustainable segment, you see a sector that has grown very significantly and which has proven itself resilient in a downturn. If our system continues to count illnesses like cancer or disasters like the Gulf oil spill as creating positive growth of the GNP, it will leave the United States increasingly uncompetitive.

I encourage everyone to take action on this legislation and let their voices be heard. For the good of families, the economy, and the planet, please write your representative; contact NGOs and let them know this an important issue for you; and finally vote with your dollars. Write CEOs of companies fighting the reform and let them know that you’ll be boycotting their products because of their stance on the issue.

You can find out more about toxic chemical legislation at Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families.

Jeffrey Hollender is the co-author of the recently published book, The Responsibility Revolution. The Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Seventh Generation, and a Co-Founder of the American Sustainable Business Council and the Sustainability Institute. Hollender also shares his insights at The Inspired Protagonist, a leading blog on corporate responsibility.

Photo: CC Flickr//Warmest Regards

TOXIC CLIENTS: Clean Out Your Client Closet and Feel Better in the Morning!

Last night I fired a client.

I liked it.

Oh, and I did it last month too.

That’s right.  You heard me. 

This is not one one those sissy-esqe “how to drive crazy sales”  blogs –
This is to sell you on a serious “how to get rid of those clients that drive you crazy!” column!

Successful business people agree that keeping a client is less costly that finding a new one.  But sometimes, that is not the case.

The Pareto principle states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.  In business this can tranlate into 20% of your clients taking up 80% of your time and vice-versa. And 20% of your clients make up 80% of your billable hours. And 20% of your clients will give you and 80% percent of your headaches!

And what do we want to do with headaches?
Get rid of them!

Look. If there’s one thing I learned spending almost two decades busting my hump in the world of global branding, marketing and media, in order to be exclusive, don’t be afraid to EXCLUDE!

Top companies and brands set standards, targeting demographics to maximize profitability and exclude those that do not fit that model. 

Here’s what happened: A new client wanted me to set his project at top priority as he’s on a tight schedule and budget and needed to get something produced right away.  I agreed, but with the following condition:  That by a specified date, he would provide all of the information and materials required in order to get it done quickly. Then, the client dropped off the face of the earth, ignored my correspondence and phone messages while our previously agreed upon due date had passed. When he did resurface, he said he was “very busy running his muti-billion dollar enterprise.”  Hmmm…Multi-billion dollar enterprise?  Then where’s his assistant, sense of deadlines and accountibility?  And why did need need such a deep discount?  When I told him we would not be able to meet our originally planned delivery date due to his negligence, he said he had lower bids from other service providers that would.

I suggested he work with them.

Good day, sir.
I said :
Good day!

How do you know if you’ve a case of client toxicity?

The toxic client typically enters a company portfolio during slow economic times.
When cash flow is tight, any customer may look good. 
However the toxic client is more problem than profit. 
Beware : The first sign is the chiselling of price or fee schedule.
While negotiation is often necessary to land a customer, the toxic client demands price reductions so low and precludes profitability.

How much time are they vampirically sucking from you?
Constant phone calls, e-mails, and hand-holding is a sure sign.
Beware : Toxic client zap energy from you and the project itself.
Toxic clients take time away from you and time you can be serving your profitable clients.

Remember the 80-20 rule?
The reality is toxic clients are problematic and require an exorbitant amount of energy. Cut the cord! You will grow your business by focussing on the 80% of the clients you enjoy.  Cutting unprofitable and/or exceptionally toxic clients from your roster WILL strengthen your business. It isn’t costing them. It’s costing YOU!

Sometimes burning the bridge is the best idea.
Anyone got a match?

Self-Reflection Exercise: Identifying Your Toxic Emotions

Sit comfortably and take a few slow, deep breaths. Settle your awareness in your heart. Now ask yourself this difficult question:

What is wrong with me?

Although we spend much of our lives disguising and suppressing the answers to this question, this is your opportunity to access it. You carry negative self-judgments because you’ve accepted the opinions of others as legitimate. This is the time to challenge their validity. To help begin the process, look at the following list of traits that many clients have shared with me over the years, and see which ones provoke an emotional response in you.

Physical characteristics.

I am too fat. I am too thin.
I am too short. I am too tall.
I am too dark. I am too pale.
My hair is too curly. My hair is too kinky.
My hair is too straight. My teeth are too big.
My teeth are crooked. My nose is too big.
My ears stick out. My hands are ugly.
My feet are ugly. My stomach sticks out.
My butt is too big. My body is too straight.
My breasts are too big. My breasts are too small.
I have cellulite. My thights are fat.
I am uncoordinated. My penis is too small.
I have bad breath. I have body odor.
I have bad skin. I am a pig.
I am slow. I can’t sit still.

Mental and Personality Characteristics

I am stupid. I am crude.
I am a smart aleck. I am selfish.
I am a nerd. I am boring.
I have no style. I am foul.
I am rude. I am insecure.
I am prissy. I am a follower.
I am needy. I am crazy.
I am timid. I am useless.
I am incompetent. I am hopeless.
I am clingy. I am a loser.
I am untrustworthy. I am a liar.
I am arrogant. I am critical.
I am stuck-up. I am worthless.
I am judgmental. I am a mistake.
I am out of control. I am annoying.
I am a control freak. I am loud.
I am pathetic. I have no talent.
I am disgusting. I am withholding.
I am mean. I too easily give in / put out.
I am narcissistic. I am careless.

Body Awareness

Toxic emotions and beliefs have both mental and physical components. To fully identify the emotional ama you are carrying, you need to recruit the assistance of both your mind and body. As you consider various restricting beliefs and qualities you may have internalized, pay attention to the sensations in your body. The feelings that your body generates are
like flares signaling that there is a buried memory or belief that wants to be discovered. Feeling your body while listening to your mind will ensure that you access the toxic residues of past experience so you can proceed on the path to healing your heart and healing your body.

Take out your journal and list the top tier of negative traits you have internalized. It should be easy for you to identify at least seven negative qualities you’ve accepted as yours. With time and attention, it will not be difficult for you to identify dozens. The best mind-set for approaching this process is understanding that for every negative quality we’ve accepted as true, a positive possibility hides just under the surface. Similarly, for every positive trait we accept as true, a negative trait is concealed in the shadows. Embracing our light and dark sides does not make us weak; it brings wholeness to our being. Having identified the self-negating beliefs you have internalized, rank them, beginning with the most disturbing quality that has caused pain for you. Your list might look something like this:

1)  I am a slob.
2)  I am useless.
3)  I am ugly.
4)  I am a parasite.
5)  I am an idiot.
6)  I am self-centered.
7)  I am unlovable.

Now consider the stories these traits reflect. Acknowledging the tales you’ve woven around these qualities begins to free you from the unconscious hold they have on you. Only then can you be free to experience happiness, vitality, love, meaning, and peace in your life. Begin with the first trait on your list and ask yourself the following questions to help you recognize the roots and branches of the characteristic you have internalized. Write several paragraphs for each answer, recalling what you remember about this wounding.

1)  When did I first hear this term applied to me? Who labeled me with this trait and what do I know about my tormentor? 

2)  What was happening in my life when this label was applied to me?

3)  How has this label affected my sense of self and my relationships?

4)  How has this trait affected my psychological and physical health?

5)  Do I deserve to continue carrying the burden of this toxic trait in my heart? Do I deserve to be happy?

6)  Has this belief, however painful, served me in any way?

7)  How will recovering the power this trait has held affect my psychological and physical well-being?

David Simon, M.D.  is the Co- Founder, CEO and Medical Director of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing. Dr. Simon is dedicated to catalyzing the evolution of the prevailing health care system into a healing system that encompasses the emotional, spiritual as well as physical health of the individual. His new book Free to Love, Free to Heal: Heal Your Body by Healing Your Emotions comes out on June 25, 2009.

Ready to start your journey? Post your intent and blog about your new journey of self-discovery and self-love.

Just joining the series? Start from the beginning of David Simon’s 2-week guide for healing your past wounds and letting go of toxic emotions through power of love– for yourself and for others.