All of us will encounter toxic individuals and circumstances in our lives at one time or another. During those experiences we need to use whatever helpful tools we can find to stay balanced and clear about "who we are."

One of the methods I use to maintain perspective is to create a "healthy level of detachment." Healthy, because I still have my heart engaged, but am detached enough not to be running amuck in an emotional minefield.

The following real-life dialogue from 2002 with a good friend of mine (who lives in Florida and is an Inspiration Line subscriber) explains how this technique works. My friend was having a stressful problem with her mom:

CHELLE: First, picture your mother cutting you down and criticizing the plans you made for your daughter's wedding. See her face, hear her mean words and tone of voice.

MY FRIEND: Okay, got it.

CHELLE: Now, visualize yourself floating above that scene, gradually getting higher and higher. As you do, the image of you and your mom arguing gets smaller and less distinct.

MY FRIEND: Okay, so I'm visualizing the entire scene, not just her, I'm floating above myself and my daughter too.

CHELLE: That's right, because it's the "whole event" that hurts. Now keep rising and rising until the image is just a fuzzy cloud floating far below your feet.

MY FRIEND: When I get up high enough, I can no longer hear her or see her face. Is that too high?

CHELLE: No that's perfect! Now, just let the picture drift away, out into space ...


CHELLE: Here's a set of sayings that I use to further create this "DISTANCING PROCESS." The 'command' wording is almost like computer lingo — "Go To":

1. Go To Distance:
Feel yourself disentangling from the venomous words, cruel attacks, etc. — pulling back to a distance where you are an observer who isn't emotionally 'infected' by the picture you see.

2. Go To Vertical:
Now do the visualization process that we practiced earlier — seeing yourself pulling up and away from the stressful scene which gets smaller and smaller as you rise above it.

3. Leave It In The 'Mystery':
This is my favorite!
I often focus on these words when I encounter the dark side of a person, so that I'm not drawn into their drama.

"Leaving it in the mystery" means NOT thinking that you need to understand or explain it; instead you just allow it to be "out of your hands" ... then, you continue on with the rest of your day.

After you've repeated these three steps over and over —by 'experiencing' them in your mind — you can shorten the process to simple trigger words to use when you need them ... as a "walking meditation" or affirmation:

Go to Distance ...
Go to Vertical ...
Leave It in the Mystery.

MY FRIEND: Do you have a hard time with that one about not trying to understand? I sure do.

CHELLE: I used to, but with practice it has become much more automatic.

MY FRIEND: I feel a need to be able to explain things; if they are irrational, it bothers me badly.

CHELLE: I had the same problem, but now I can usually keep myself in a place of clarity by focusing on some wise words that I read a few years ago:

"Delete the need to understand and to be understood." That one phrase is a major key to inner peace, personal happiness and authenticity.

MY FRIEND: I never knew that!

CHELLE: Consider this ... in the Big Picture, "being bothered" over something makes absolutely NO TANGIBLE DIFFERENCE — except for keeping YOU constantly upset or irritated. It's all about letting go of this illusion of control that we humans THINK we have, and thereby relinquishing our NEED for it.

MY FRIEND: Guess I have a lot of work to do.

CHELLE: Don't we all ......

©Chelle Thompson

Author's Bio: 

Chelle Thompson, Editor-Publisher of Inspiration Line, has an extensive background in recovery programs, motivational counseling, psychology, theology and human relations. In 1991, she left a successful advertising career in Southern California and followed her Inner Voice to New Mexico, where she knew no one. In Santa Fe, she established a nonprofit personal growth center called Lightship of Santa Fe which was dedicated to advancing human potential through self-empowerment. Currently, Chelle produces the meaningful life website and global weekly e-magazine which reaches more than 229 countries worldwide with 75,000 monthly readers.