You cannot be grateful and bitter. You cannot be grateful and unhappy. You cannot be grateful and without hope. You cannot be grateful and unloving. So just be grateful. ~author unknown

Are you experiencing some toxic emotions like anger, bitterness, irritability, hopelessness or depression? When negative emotions occupy much of our attention and drain our energy, they have become toxic. Something that is toxic is like poison; it causes harm and serious debilitation. Isn't that what anger and bitterness do? Like poison, they impair and destroy our ability to function at our best. They keep us chained to unforgiveness and self-destruction. How about hopelessness? Its toxicity saps our strength and makes us weak. Irritability is another toxin that steals our peace and harms our relationships.

When we experience toxic levels of negative emotions, we need to detox. That is, we need to counteract and remove their destructive effects. We may need to release some anger, process some hurt, change our perspective, recall our past victories, take some time away, or talk to someone who can help us. These are healthy coping methods that can all be very helpful in dealing with toxic emotions. However, what is especially helpful and probably the best antidote for toxic emotions is practicing gratitude. One of the best ways to do this is to get our minds off the problem and change our focus. Instead of thinking about how angry we are about what went wrong, we can give thanks for what went right or for what additional sorrows we escaped. Instead of focusing on the hopelessness of a situation and what we cannot change, we can give thanks for what we can change and the control we have over our thoughts and actions. We can be thankful that we have options and can choose to respond in a healthy manner.

Gratitude and toxic emotions cannot coexist. The next time you experience toxic emotions, counteract them with gratitude before they poison your mind, body and relationships. Toxic emotions may not always be completely eradicated from our lives, but their destructive effects can be!

In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy. ~Brother David Steindl-Rast

Copyright © 2010 All Rights Reserved.

written by Krystal Kuehn, MA, LPC, LLP, NCC

Author's Bio: 

Krystal Kuehn, MA, LPC, LLP, NCC is a psychotherapist, author, teacher & musician. She is the cofounder of New Day Counseling, a family couples counseling and child teen counseling center,, an award-winning, self-help and inspirational site where you can find hundreds of free resources, insights & words of inspiration to change your life, and where you can find beautiful baby poems, baby quotes, cute sayings & baby videos that will touch your heart & increase your joy & gratitude for the children you love & enjoy! Krystal is also author of several blogs: Be Your Best, Gratitude Journal, Baby Poems blog and Words of Inspiration blog!