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4 Secret Ingredients for a Happy and Productive Life

4 Secret Ingredients for a Happy and Productive Life

Meet Amy.

Amy is your Amygdala.

Your Amygdala is part of your ancient reptilian brain, which back in the days of cave men and dinosaurs, was a great tool to help keep you safe.

You see Amy is responsible for sending you into fight or flight or freeze mode when presented with the perceived threat of a larger than life predator that might attack you (or even eat you!).

The only problem is that in today’s modern world, Amy doesn’t realize the difference between say being eaten by an ancient saber tooth tiger versus your boss coming at you with steam coming out of his ears. Regardless, she is ready to protect and defend you to the death.

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She is very well-trained at keeping a watchful eye, intended to keep you safe inside of your comfort zone and maintaining the status quo. The challenge lies in her overactive need to protect you from a vast array of perceived threats, a desire which leaves your body in a constant state of stress, anxiety, and fear.

For all you science geeks out there…

When Amy gets up in arms, your brain releases cortisol and adrenaline, causing your body to want to run from said perceived threat. Your blood pressure rises and you’re ready for a fight.

When this happens, your brain also then shuts off less “vital” systems that are using up precious energy reserves such as your immune system and digestive system. They go into sleep mode, if you will. If the perceived threats are constant though, your “dis-ease” can build up and quickly or unexpectedly turn into disease since your immune system is running on reserve battery mode.

It’s no wonder we tend to gain weight and get sick when we’re stressed out!

So how do you overcome Amy’s incessant need to protect you?

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You have to learn how to manage her.

Here are 4 secret ingredients to help you manage your Amy to live a more happy and productive life.

Simply by hacking into your brain’s natural supply of “happy chemicals” you can create greater peace of mind, joy and a positive frame of mind which will help you tame your Amy.

The four ingredients?

Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, and Endorphins (DOSE)

1. Dopamine: Helps us set goals and get things done. It incentivizes us to make progress and is generated at the anticipation of achieving or striving for something.

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Hack: By creating a series of mini goals that you can easily achieve (and then celebrate achieving) you will help release more dopamine into your system and elevate your happiness factor.

2. Oxytocin: Also known as the cuddle hormone, it helps create strong bonds, intimacy, trust, and healthy relationships. It also lowers your cortisol levels, increases your interest in your work, and raises your cognitive abilities for problem solving and creative thinking, while boosting your immune systems, lowering your blood pressure, and increasing your libido. It can be generated through social bonding, eye contact, and attentiveness.

Hack: Go for the hug instead of the handshake! Doctors recommend giving the gift of a hug at least eight times a day. Giving small gifts to a friend or loved one will also do the trick.

3. Serotonin: Boosts your feeling of confidence, making you feel good and elevating your mood. It is generated when you’re feeling significant, important, or valued.

Hack: Sit in the sun for a brief 20 minutes while practicing gratitude for the things in your life that have value and importance to you. Your skin will absorb UV rays which produce vitamin D and releases serotonin.

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4. Endorphins: Released in response to stress or pain to help reduce depression and anxiety. It acts as a sedative and anesthetic as your muscles work through hard labor.

Hack: Eat dark chocolate while laughing. Along with the scents of vanilla and lavender, dark chocolate and laughter are known to boost the release of endorphins into your system. Regular exercise is also another great way to get those endorphins flowing.

The next time you’re feeling stressed out, anxious, or depressed, try a couple of these brain hacks to help reduce your stress, boost your mood, and get you focused and back on track!

You’ll feel better and leave others thinking… “I’ll have whatever she’s having!”

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Last Updated on July 15, 2020

How to Let Go of Toxic People in Your Life

How to Let Go of Toxic People in Your Life

“Entitlement is an expression of conditional love. Nobody is ever entitled to your love. You always have a right to protect your mental, emotional, and physical well-being by removing yourself from toxic people and circumstances.” -Dr. Janice Anderson & Kiersten Anderson

It’s not always obvious if you have someone toxic in your life. A toxic relationship is one that is harmful to you. A toxic person can create distress to the degree you feel inadequate and isolated. So, what makes a toxic person?

A toxic person has toxic behavior, meaning it’s not that the whole person is toxic[1]. It’s what they do that counts. Most toxic people run from accountability and misrepresent reality to you. They misrepresent your worth and your ability to heal from them can be stifled the longer you keep them in your life. You have a role to play with it as well; if your values are dismissed by them and you don’t act on it, you have allowed room for toxicity to grow.

When you are in a toxic relationship, you feel less than. You feel as though you are not worth anyone’s time or effort. You feel unheard, and sometimes you feel unsafe. You don’t feel good about yourself in a toxic relationship, whether it be with a partner, friend, or family member.

You may stay in a toxic relationship for a number of reasons. You may believe yourself to be a burden, have a lack of boundaries, resist change, fear conflict, try to be a people pleaser, find yourself codependent, or are partially stuck in a pattern or unhealthy cycle of abuse.

Letting go of toxic people may not be easy. In order to do so, you have to know why or how they are toxic to you and read between the lines that they do not have your best interests in mind.

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Letting go of toxic people is hard because you are good and want to see the good in others. You think their apologies are authentic. You have trouble believing they are being dishonest. You don’t spend time healing from it. You get pulled back into the pain because you don’t want it to end. However, if you feel like something isn’t right, it probably isn’t right.

You should walk away from a toxic person because you need to preserve your peace. You need to feel like yourself again. And you need better support.

Letting go of toxic people can involve four major steps.

1. Recognize the Red Flags

Red flags are signs a person is being toxic. It’s when someone shows characteristics that you should feel caution about. It’s when you feel any level of dissatisfaction and distrust. Trust your gut. When you recognize red flags, you can evaluate whether a person is trying to manipulate you or not. This gives you some level of control over what you allow in your life. The earlier you detect these behaviors, the better off you will be.

Red flags can include:

  • They always put themselves first.
  • They point out imperfections and sabotage your self-esteem.
  • You may feel drained or used when you’re around them.
  • What you give isn’t reciprocated. They don’t return the goodness you provide as a friend.
  • They ignore your boundaries and get angry when you tell them “no.”
  • You catch them in half truths or outright lies when you confront them about anything.
  • You are the villain; they are the victim.
  • Second chances always lead to repeated patterns of behavior.
  • They may engage in abuse.

2. Set Boundaries

There are emotional boundaries that one can set, but there are also physical ones[2]. You can leave any time. Setting boundaries is also an important part of self-care.

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You shouldn’t walk on eggshells. Tell them how you feel. Are they respecting you, fulfilling your needs, and listening to you? If not, it’s time to set up a healthy emotional distance and start letting go of toxic people around you.

There are levels to this. You have your inner circle, which could include family, and then you have acquaintances and strangers. If a toxic person is in your inner circle, it’s time to pull back and put up some boundaries for them to follow. If they can’t hear you out, you can cut off the connection completely.

You can give second chances, but you have to be careful. If someone knows they can get away with something, they will do it again. If there’s any chance for the relationship, they have to know not to cross certain lines.

3. Invest in Yourself

You deserve to know you are worthwhile. Try to remember that things will get better and that anything is possible. How do you do so? Invest in yourself.

This means self care, goal setting, surrounding yourself with positive support, and feeling a sense of peace. Your greatest ambition should be to love yourself. Without self-love, letting go of toxic people will be difficult.

Every relationship is a risk, but if you know yourself and what you will allow, toxic people will have less of a hold over you. If you are a giver or people pleaser, you are most at risk to being in a one-sided relationship. You shouldn’t be punished for caring, but sometimes trust needs to be earned. If you have self-love, you are treating yourself the best way possible. You know that others need to meet your standards; otherwise, they don’t get to be a part of your life.

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It’s possible that you can love yourself and still not see the signs. It can be difficult for some to be aware that toxic people exist. However,, if you know how much you mean to others in your life and what you are worth, you will be less likely to take on a relationship that is harmful to you or repeat negative patterns. Self-love is how we get out of toxic relationships, but it’s also how they never begin.

4. Know When Forgiveness Is Possible

There are times a person will prove their worth to you. They may make a mistake that makes them seem like a horrible person. They may forget to be good to you because of their own issues. They may just have no example of what a healthy relationship looks like. They may have an inflated ego that really comes from insecurity. The list goes on.

If they apologize, that’s a start. Look at their actions. Are they changing for the better because they really want to change or just seeming to in order to manipulate you? A person may control others with their image or perceived personality, but if you see through them, you may be able to discern the degree to which they are willing to be there for you.

If they start to do the right thing, you may begin to trust them again. Don’t start forgiving them until time has passed and you are sure there is growth, even if they show vulnerability or remorse. You can give a second chance if they truly have an awakening. Otherwise, it’s best to get out. Don’t let them walk all over you; let them walk out the door.

If you do give a second change and they still refuse to change, you have every right to remove them and continue the process of letting go of toxic people. The moment you even want to leave may also be a good time to get out. You don’t have to compromise yourself in order to care for them.

Forgiveness is the release of resentment or anger[3]. Forgiveness doesn’t mean reconciliation. You have to go back to the same relationship or accept the same harmful behaviors from someone. You don’t have to let them back in. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.

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Remember, forgiveness is ultimately for you, not them. You don’t need that person in your life in order to forgive them, and if you give them a second chance, proceed with caution.

Final Thoughts

Recognize the red flags, set boundaries, invest in yourself, and know when forgiveness is possible. This is how you cope with a toxic person impacting your life. You have power in the direction of your life and the people who accompany you as you move forward. Use it.

If a person is worthwhile, they will prove themselves through their actions, not their words. If they cross certain lines that really harm you, you owe them nothing. You have every right to feel what you feel and to be upset. Honor your feelings and communicate them because it’ll only continue to keep happening if you don’t.

If this is happening to you, it’s time to put a stop to it. It’s time to take control. It’s time to live for yourself, not for what others say about you. It’s time to set your standards higher than they’ve ever been before. And most of all, it’s time to let go.

Resource reminder: A physically abusive relationship is ALWAYS toxic. There are resources for you. Always speak up.

If you are in such a cycle or domestic violence or abuse reach out for help. For example, there is The National Domestic Violence Hotline (https://www.thehotline.org/) which can be reached at 1−800−799−7233. There are other ways to get help if you simply ask for it. 

More Tips on Letting Go of Toxic People

Featured photo credit: Hannah Busing via unsplash.com

Reference

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