All of us go through different seasons of life, some turbulent, others ambient. Mostly in seasons filled with turbulence, we feel like our soul is reaching.
Ever had a yearning to feel grounded, but you find yourself soaring on unhelpful activities that further impact negatively on your soul? Well, this is because of the make-up of human beings. We tend to look towards transformation from the outside in, for instance, by adorning exclusive clothing labels; vacationing; studying further; going to the gym; etc. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing bad about these things but when you are looking for a completely transformed life, the place to start is not on the outside, with a focus on your physique; but rather on the inside, with the heart, your soul. Proverbs 4:23 says we should guard our heart because from it flows the springs of life.
When I first completed the spiritual detox two years ago, I’d felt like something was missing from my life. Life was so hectic and it felt like most of my days were just going by with a great disconnect from who I knew myself to be. As much as I couldn’t pinpoint to what was really wrong or bothersome to me, I knew that life shouldn’t be the way it was. My soul was in tatters and I didn’t know why. My soul was lurking in places it had no business to loiter in. And so the soul searching began. This has continued each year, since then.
Here are some lessons I learnt from this year’s 18 day detox programme:
A thought is just as powerful as the spoken word. We tend to think that we are good people without toxic thoughts towards ourselves and others. Fearful toxic thoughts come up for me when I think of the need to safeguard my resources. It is all good and well to do this but if it comes from a place of fear, then this is evidence of some unresolved hurt from past experiences (lived or evidenced in someone’s life).
The toxicity from our critical thoughts will attack you when you or someone have done something really well but instead of immersing yourself in applause or celebration, it will whisper: “I could have done it better”. It is important to understand the source of your thought patterns. Acknowledging their existence is equally important because this awareness will bring to light how your thoughts have impacted your life and your relationships. The thoughts we have of ourselves, others and the world we live in should not imprison but liberate us.
"You get to choose which thoughts you want to host in your mind. Choose to be liberated instead of imprisoned." Refilwe Ramatlhodi Ndhlovu
2. Discontentment breeds ungratefulness. When you are discontent, you are oblivious to the blessings around you. This state of being drives you to moan and groan about this and that. It lets you complain and compare. Being grateful however does not mean settling for a mediocre life. You can have a grateful heart but still yearn for more. Something that we struggle with as human beings is yearning for things that are misaligned to what God requires of us. And because of this, which I believe is driven by our unbelief, we are resistant to carrying out what God asks of us. Unfortunately, the same resistance is what keeps us away from the fulfilment of the contentment that God has promised. Read that again so you fully grasp it.
“Discontentment makes it difficult to obey God’s commands.” Refilwe Ramatlhodi Ndhlovu
3. Fear invites apprehension. What we fear greatly influences our thoughts and ultimately, our actions. Fear makes us feel stuck. Fear encourages procrastination. Fear pushes us to isolation. The consistent ‘what ifs’ fuel our fear to a point of paranoia and sometimes paralysis. Fear let’s God know that we don’t trust Him enough with a particular area of our life so we’ll rely on our own understanding, something Proverbs 3:5-6 warns us against. Life without fear makes life worth living because without fear, we feel liberated – mind, body and soul. Without fear, we are more bold and courageous; we don’t become disobedient by holding back. Without fear, we invite more joyful days into our lives.
“The area of your life in which fear reigns the most, is where you trust God the least.” Refilwe Ramatlhodi Ndhlovu
4. Engage in what’s good. We live in a world that’s navigating all sorts of toxic things. People are going through the most and as a result, seeking worldly acceptance has become a desperate solution. In this global village, a lot has become acceptable, even when it goes against the fabric of our being. We get easily influenced by trends and pressured because we do not know who we are. We people-please a lot too. Instead of thinking or letting our decisions be guided by “what would Jesus do”, we first think “what will so and so think.” Today’s culture is set on social acceptance however, we need to be mindful of who we let into our close circles; what we watch, read or listen to; who we follow on the socials and events we participate in. What we consume impacts heavily on our lives and if we are not careful, our souls will keep wandering in great despair.
"Make it a point to separate yourself from anything or anyone that is not good”. Refilwe Ramatlhodi Ndhlovu
5. Healthy boundaries are essential. Despite our endeavours to live well and in harmony with others, relationships can prove challenging at times. Our friends, family members, and co-workers can be toxic and sometimes, with or without our awareness, we could be the ones bringing toxicity into the relationship(s). Going through the spiritual detox programme helped me realise that my independence is borderline toxic because it encourages self-reliance over asking for help even when I know I need to.
Reflecting on my current relationships, I realised the importance of seeing toxicity for what it is without justifying certain behaviours. Like one of the group members said, “we need to call a spade, a spade”. This was in reflection on how toxic our own family members can be. Because of the fixation on the idea of a “perfect friendship” or “perfect sisterhood” or “family ties”, we enable toxic behavioural patterns in our relationships. The thing of not calling our toxic behaviour means we are playing a part in enabling these behaviours because of our tolerance.
“What we tolerate manifests and becomes a way of life.” Refilwe Ramatlhodi Ndhlovu
There’s toxic relationships we should end but there’s others we can’t end entirely because of our close ties to those people, for example, family. However, protecting one’s peace remains essential. This is where healthy boundaries come in. Jesus set boundaries with Peter, and so should we. Healthy boundaries are required for closest relatives too. By virtue of being family, that does not mean they will have your best interests at heart or speak life unto you. So, it is ok to distance yourself from toxic family members, friends or co-workers. However, before you do this, establish the part that you played in enabling the toxicity to continue. Acknowledge this and define clearly, how you will relationship with that person going forward.
But what if the toxic person is YOU, even worse, towards yourself?
The same applies. Establish what your toxic traits and inputs have been; acknowledge these and have an agreement with yourself to create healthy boundaries between the self. This is a way to guard your heart, which I believe will ultimately help in preventing any further self-sabotage.
“First up, healthy boundaries. We can engage harmoniously, even at a distance.” Refilwe Ramatlhodi Ndhlovu
I’ve interestingly noticed that each year, my soul lurks in different zones. What’s amazing is that after each completion of the spiritual detox programme, I always feel like I’ve just had a do over in life because of the new things I learn about myself through the daily reflections and from the community the joins me on this journey.
A do over in life begins with the acknowledgment that “something in me has to change”. If your soul is beckoning for change and alignment, grab a notebook and pen, and answer the questions below:
When you look at the depth of your heart, what is currently flowing through it?
Are you feeling at peace despite the situations you are finding yourself in? Or are those things situations overwhelming you to a point of suffocation?
When someone does something untoward to you, are you quick to curse or do you bless them instead?
What has motivated the decisions you’ve taken recently?
Are your thoughts, habits and behaviours aligned to the person you want to be?
The journey of self-development and self-discovery should never be an isolated one. I am here to walk it with you. Book a coaching session and let’s get started.
If you enjoyed this article, leave a comment, like and share it with your network. Don't forget to subscribe to be a site member so you don't miss out on new articles.