The Next Step to Bewilderment

jan2016Bewilderment Lesson 2:
Don’t Swallow Poison

Last month I invited you to join me in a process I call bewilderment (the effort to be wilder) with a series of simple steps. The first of these, as we saw, is CALM DOWN. The second—my New Year’s resolution for 2016—is DON’T SWALLOW POISON. If you take these first two steps, virtually all the wondrous, magical, fulfilling things you’ve ever hoped for will finally reach you. Yet, of the thousands of folks I’ve coached, only a tiny percentage will even experiment with Step Two.

By “Don’t Swallow Poison” I mean refusing to internalize anything that causes pain, sickness, or extreme distress. We do this pretty well when it comes to food. When I was about five I had stomach flu after eating a lime Popsicle. I’ve never eaten a lime Popsicle since.  Avoidance of nausea is one of the most powerful responses we possess.

It’s weird, then, that most of us continue swallowing thoughts that sicken us, over and over. “Swallowing” thoughts simply means believing them. When we believe a thought that’s wrong for us, our hearts and bodies struggle, retch, and spasm, trying to eject them. It’s not a subtle reaction, yet we grimly keep down our poisonous beliefs by refusing to question them.

“I’m bad.” “I’m ugly.” “I never get it right.” Just hold those thoughts in your mind and feel how sick they make you. I mean physically sick—weak, tired, achy, and vulnerable to stress. Then begin focusing on any evidence that refutes them. “My dog thinks I’m good.” “Some parts of me are beautiful.” “I got a lot of things right today.” Pay attention, and you’ll feel your sickness begin to lessen.

This year, try vowing not to swallow any belief that makes you sick. This isn’t easy. Few people ever try it. But the reward is incalculable: greater ease and joy in everything from sleeping to paying your bills. And if you can use the first two steps even part of the time, you’ll find yourself growing freer and more true to yourself, ready for the next step to be-wilder-ment.

8 replies
  1. Ann
    Ann says:

    Yes, poison.
    I work there, some of my co-workers are poison.
    My work load is poison, and impossible.
    And the money is good.
    I am crazy…..stop swallowing poison, Ann.

  2. caroline
    caroline says:

    Thanks for this Martha. However I used it differently. Determined to become totally conscious on my food intake that has been making me feel horrible for a long time, I adapted your post to food

    "When we eat a food that is wrong for us, our hearts and bodies struggle, retch and spasm, trying to eject it"

    Poisoning is an excellent term in either case. I have decided to have a Love Affair with my Body. We don't tend to poison those we are madly in love with.

  3. Cathryn Wellner
    Cathryn Wellner says:

    Perfect timing for me to read this post. As part of the background work for my next book, I've been going through journals from a quarter century ago. Scanning them for the stories I want to include is also freeing me from the toxins. I went through some difficult years and poured it out into the journals. But I don't want to carry around those old toxins anymore. I'm in a wonderful phase of my life. Letting to of the past is part of that. So into the recycling bin go the journals. It's a bit like sculpting. After paring away and paring away, I'm left with shining gems of stories.

  4. Nancy
    Nancy says:

    I am so sorry to not be able to do the Inegrity Cleanse. Unfortunately, it falls on a morning when I do a breath/yoga class that has freed me from a horrible prison: anxiety disorder. I can't miss it if I want to live without anxiety. However, as someone once said, "There's more where that came from." So maybe your next Integrity Cleanse will be on a different day. I always read you firt before anything else in "O" magazine. The more inner work I do, the greater the impact of your funny, wise and unique articles. Thank-you!

  5. Alicia
    Alicia says:

    Martha – is it wise/beneficial to write out a list of things we should not swallow? I know it's beneficial to write things down – but I also know I like to make things harder on myself sometimes than I need to be. Advice on this? Alicia

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] then, I read a wonderful article by life coach Martha Beck: Don’t Swallow Poison. In it, she invites us to refuse to internalize the thoughts that make us […]

  2. […] short, we fall short.When someone beloved is no longer here, we remember our failures. We weep. Martha Beck warns “By ‘Don’t Swallow Poison’ I mean refusing to internalize anything that ca…She encourages us refute those bad […]

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