Remove anything toxic, and cherish simplicity.
Because that's where genius lives.
—Robin S. Sharma

“Why do you do that? You are so weird!” was the response of a couple friends when I told them I was in the middle of a 26-day gentle detox using whole foods. It was the beginning of a new year, after a holiday season of overindulgent tendencies and enticements—a fancy way of saying I ate a bunch of junk food over the span of a few days. Frankly, I was feeling out of sorts and living with the tOXic reminder of why I typically strive to surround myself with things that are supportive to my wellbeing. It was time for cleansing.

Like many, I have studied the popular ‘Law of Attraction’—the art of inviting positive thoughts, actions, and people into our daily routine to help us create and achieve the best of what life can offer. And by so doing, we can give the world the highest version of ourselves. However when it comes to temptations that lead us to tOXic thoughts, people, places, and things, we may need a different approach—a different law…perhaps even a ‘Law of Subtraction.’

While in a curious mood, I ran an Amazon book search on the ‘Law of Attraction.’ It came up with over 9,000 hits, however when doing a similar search for the ‘Law of Subtraction,’ there were only two. I found the results as a bit strange because the act of subtracting harmful things from ones life can be just as important as attracting that which is beneficial. According to author Matthew E. Mays, the Law of  Subtraction is defined simply “as the art of removing anything excessive, confusing, wasteful, unnatural, hazardous, hard to use, or ugly . . . or the discipline to refrain from adding it in the first place.” In short, “Just say ‘No’ to tOXic.” Yeah…yeah…I know, it’s hardly ever that simple. But perhaps if we keep in mind the deeper meaning of the pregnant word, tOXic, it can help us build a stronger resistance. (note: for an explanation of ‘pregnant words,’ see the blog post from January, 2018).


Hopefully by now you have noticed the word ‘ox’ residing in the womb of the word tOXic. To many cultures of the world, an ox is a bovine trained as a draft animal—a beast of burden that pulls heavy loads. Oxen are commonly castrated adult male cattle; castration makes the animals easier to control. Ouch! Used as an adjective, to castrate means to deprive of power, vitality, or vigor. 

When we allow tOXic thoughts, people, places, and things affect our lives, we metaphorically become like the ox—a beast of burden bearing heavy loads, deprived of power, vitality, vigor, and self-control. How laden is your load? Whose load is it anyway…yours or someone else’s? Are other people placing their emotional baggage on your cart? What habits are draining your energy? How does negative self-talk invade your space and distract or disable you from moving forward?  The answers to these questions could fill a whole series of books, but my purpose here is to offer a coping method or two to get you started with the process of subtracting, attracting, and reclaiming all that is supportive to a healthy life.

Let’s look at tOXic self-talk. I recently did an online mini-course by Jim Kwik on brain function in regard to improving memory skills. One of the first things Jim addressed is our tendency to give audience to our limiting beliefs or what Dr. Daniel Amen calls “automatic negative thoughts.” The following are examples of typical automatic negative thoughts:

I’m not strong enough to tell that person “No.”

I can’t control my cravings for sugar.

I don’t know how to fit exercise into my daily schedule.

I can’t figure out a way to get to bed earlier.

I’m not good at managing a budget.

At the beginning of the lesson where Jim teaches the steps to remembering people’s names, he made the following comment that really caught my attention, “When you fight for your limitations, you get to keep them.”  Fighting for our limitations is exactly what we are doing when we engage in negative self-talk. So how can we use the genius of simplicity to surrender that fight to keep our limitations? The answer is to crack open the door of hope with one small three-letter word…‘yet.’

I’m not strong enough to tell that person ‘no’…yet.

I can’t control my cravings for sugar…yet.

I don’t know how to fit exercise into my daily schedule…yet.

I can’t figure out a way to get to bed earlier…yet.

I’m not good at managing a budget…yet.


Hope ends the fight for our limitations. Hope broadens our view and redirects our attention to solutions to problems and possibilities for progress. Maybe something as small as strategically posting the word “Yet” around the house or the work place or as screen savers can make enough of a difference to follow the recommendations of writer and motivational speaker, Robin S. Sharma, “Delete the energy vampires from your life, clean out all complexity, build a team around you that frees you to fly, remove anything toxic, and cherish simplicity. Because that's where genius lives.”

In the English language, the letters ‘O-X’ are symbols of endearment and affection, specifically hugs and kisses. The next time you see or think of the word tOXic, let it remind you to be affectionate and kind to yourself while you strive to get on the path of hope and work to lighten your load.

(Note: To learn more about the importance of setting boundaries when it come to tOXic thoughts, people, places, and things, see chapter 36, “Boundaries,” in my book titled Sacred Soul-Space: Making Room in Your Life for What You Have to Offer This World.)

(Note: If you are interested in learning more about the 26-Day Detox my husband and did, go here.