How to Prevent Toxic Thoughts From Harming Your Health and Happiness

How to Prevent Toxic Thoughts from Sabotaging Your Health and Happiness


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Last year I wrote an article called The Biggest Obstacle to Perfect Health is Your Mind. The more I work with people, and the more I observe my own experience, the more convinced I am that this is true.

Most of you who read this blog and listen to my radio show know exactly what you should be doing to promote optimal health and achieve your goals. But knowing what to do and actually doing it – day in and day out – are two entirely different things. Even the best of intentions can easily be sabotaged by toxic patterns of thought and behavior.

What’s more, as I explained last year, almost all of us have significant blind spots or areas of our life where we lack awareness and insight. I call these “weak links in the chain”:

Most of us invest the majority of our time and energy strengthening the parts of our chain that are already strong. These stronger links are where we feel comfortable and confident, where we can operate safely within the bounds of who we think we are.

And this is where the problem lies. No matter how much we strengthen the links in our chain that are already strong, if there’s still a weak link the chain as a whole isn’t stronger. It can break just as easily.

Unfortunately, as you well know, working with these blind spots and “weak links” is not as simple as just wishing them away.

Why? Because it usually requires us to step out of our concept of self and challenge our very identity. It asks us to grow and evolve and shine the light of awareness into the dark corners of our psyche. This isn’t easy, and it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s not as simple as popping a pill or eliminating nightshades from our diet.

Fortunately, there are tools and approaches that can help set us free from these destructive thoughts and ways of being.

The Health Switch is one of those tools. It was created by Dr. Dan Lippmann, a clinical psychologist who specializes in helping people achieve their health-related goals. After years of working with clients and suffering from chronic pain associated with a joint disorder himself, Dan had two critical realizations:

  1. Our lives and health depend on taking control of our thoughts and moods.
  2. We can change how we feel by transforming the negative moods and beliefs that hold us back.

Most of us have a nearly continuous stream of self-talk going in our heads. These thoughts are so familiar to us that we rarely stop to examine them. If we did, we’d be shocked and even outraged. In fact, if a friend, lover or family member talked to us the way we talk to ourselves, we would have gotten rid of that person a long time ago!

The Health Switch is a powerful method for helping us to become aware of these destructive thought patterns, which Dan calls “thought traps”, and learning to see them for what they are: simply stories we tell about ourselves or the world around us. When we give these stories power and believe they are real, we suffer. But when we see that they are simply thoughts, we become free to respond and behave differently.

If you’re feeling stuck, having trouble reaching your health goals, or you’re plagued by depression, anxiety or dark moods, I highly recommend checking out The Health Switch.

There’s a saying in Zen practice: “train as if your hair is on fire.” There are many ways to interpret this (as is often the case with Zen sayings), but my take on it is this: life is too short to remain stuck in suffering. It’s never to late to break free of old patterns that are holding you back, but no one is coming to save you. You’ve got to do the work yourself.

Head over to The Health Switch website to get started.

  1. I think a lot of how we think and feel is not even under our conscious control, rather it’s in the domain of gut bacteria, and THEY dictate how we think and feel. If it were up to us, none of us would intentionally feel bad. None of us would choose to wake up tired and depressed after a night of sleep. And none of us would sabotage our own efforts at healing and weight loss. And yet we do. Or rather they do and we think it’s us. When I was at my worst with leaky gut and sibo I felt extremely low emotionally for no apparent reason. I lost my memory, going up stairs in my home only to have forgotten why I had gone up there! Mixing up letters when I wrote. Craving sugary foods. Feeling tired all the time and kinda spacey in my head. Now that I’ve fixed my gut all those, and other symptoms, have gone away again and I feel back to normal. The only time I begin to feel low again is if I eat wheat/starch… that’s how i know it’s gut bacteria related. Fix your gut and eat right; (a big variety of vegetables with a bit of protein (meat poultry or fish) healthy fats, nuts, sees and dairy if you can tolerate it) your’ll feel and think better!

      • Faye, I goggled and read like crazy and incorporated all the ideas I found, from ridding my body and home of toxic chemicals, to going to bed early in a dark room, to following an elimination diet (I discovered I had a food intolerance to starch and thickeners). I fasted for 3 – 5 days on water, and incorporated an autoimmune protocol/wahls protocol into my diet. Now eating meat/fish and LOADS of vegetables at every meal. (I eat raw garlic, gelatine and bone broth to heal my gut. I took l-glutamine and colostrum also in the beginning.) I get sun, I breathe into my belly to stimulate my vagus nerve, and try to avoid stress. I take cold showers. Basically I experiment on myself, keep a dairy of how it makes me feel, and continued to do the things that seemed to work… It didn’t take long for the very worst symptoms to go away and once that happened i knew I was on the right track. I’ve been living this ‘lifestyle’ for over a year now and can honestly say on most days I feel cheerful, happy and back to my usual self. I urge you to make some changes, diet being the obvious one (all junk food had to go) but don’t get overwhelmed by everything I mentioned here. I did each thing slowly, researching everything and making baby steps. It was my ‘project’. I was my own project, ? and I was determined to feel better and be better! So nothing has been hard, even giving up the foods that previously loved (and craved) I no longer miss, because i feel so much better and my priority is my health not my taste buds! You can do it!

  2. I’ve enjoyed the comments – especially those about Dr. David Burns. I have a well-worn copy of one of his early workbooks that helped me get through University.

    I’m a therapist, and I’m always looking for new ways to work with patients, and I have to say, Dr. Lippmann’s program is simply ingenious. The program is rooted in CBT (echoes of David Burns), and Dr. Lippmann strips away all complexity and offers a clear – and I have to say, effective – system of self help.

    I will be looking for more of Dr. Lippmann’s work.

    Thanks Chris, for bringing this to our attention.

    • Could you comment on this more? I have depression/anxiety and lots of digestion issues (tons) and low weight. I’m in my 30’s and a pschiatrist for over 1.5 years now has urged me to take antidepressants and stuff (specifically: mirtazapine and lorazapam). I haven’t taken them because I’m perhaps too stubborn or something, I don’t know.
      My weight is ridiculously low, even though I eat a ton (so malabsorption maybe..but I can’t afford a dietitian, and I’ve never found one in the past that had a clue anyway). And I do get extremely impatient (noise, traffic, everything). I’m rigid with my routines (time to eat, time to do whatever) and dislike being out of routine. And my whole body for the last few years feels “spent” , like burnt out at both ends.
      I know no one on the internet can tell me what to do, but I’m not foolish , I’m a mature woman and I ultimately am stubborn anyway and take everything with a grain of salt.

      STILL, i wonder if the mirtazapine and remeron would help my digestion, help my energy skyrocket and my muscles not to ache, and make me *smarter* (i.e right now I find it hard to really truly absorb what I read…and when I try to write stories, I’ve lost my capactity to think and be a “good ” writer). Am I making myself dumb?

      So unsure!
      I did read The Depression Cure and Unstuck and they were good books. But I’m still cranky, jumpy and on “edge” all the time, etc . Anyway, please any thoughts? I’d love to hear as much as I can about things. Particularly if someone can tell me if your meds I mentioned would Straighten out my achiness and my routines and my panic/on ege, and my intelligence.

  3. I like the idea from Joe Dispenza, basically: “We are what we Mentally Rehearse, and Physically Demonstrate…” I stumbled onto a video of this guy, and caught this excellent idea… Haven’t looked more into what he offers, because IFS, “Self-Therapy” is pretty much THE beginning and end on this topic. Once you cultivate skill in this method, you won’t need to spend any more time with self-help gurus. ALL the real work is to be done in your head.

  4. To this I must add, “Self Therapy” by Jay Earley. A practical guide to implementing the Internal Family Systems model of truly scientific psychology.

    “You’ve got to do the work yourself.” Wise. I’d rephrase it, “Only you can do THE REAL WORK — in your mind.”

  5. Hi, good post. Any suggestions for someone who has absolutely no financial income to spare and needs other options? What can I do on a DAILY basis to switch? I find I’ll try it for one day and it works…but then things get in the way again and things are so dismal.

    Another thing I want to ask about is depression. I’m low weight , mature female , was depressed and highly anxious (was/am) and was diagnosed as depressed and anxiety disorder and given mirtazapine + lorazapam. The doctor URGED me and thinks I do/will take it. I’ve not taken it ….I have a scary aversion to meds…i think the reason he specifically recommended the mirtazapine is cause of my very low weight (righ tnow I”m still trying to gain , but I”m “forcing” it, i.e. NOT hungry, ugh…whereas with the mirtazapine maybe I’d “chill out” and relax and jsut eat and not obsess) , and also for sleep (I hear mirtazapine is great for sleep improvement). Now for 1.5 years later, i’m still low weight and still RIGID with my eating routines (i.e. i eat at certain times, certain things, familiar. almost OCD, orthorexia…and vvery tied to routines…I dont’ work and if I had to , it’d throw me for a loop to be out of my routine). Also, I’m very lethargic and no energy (but also very low iron and low vitamin D I have)….

    I just don’t want to take the meds but I’m starting to feel VERY guilty for not taking them since he is convinced they would help me…and maybe if i took them even for 2-4 months…maybe i’d just gain the freaking weight and get back my energy? and be able to work and laugh and focus?
    Does mirtazapine and lorazapam help one to conentrate and organize themselves well?
    like I’m a writer, and I get so overwhelmed with how to organize or approach a topic and it makes me “nervous” or “on edge”…whereas i used to be very organized…
    but would those meds actually make me “smarter and focused”? (cause right now I feel very stupid 🙂

    Anyway, I’m not as bad as this comment is likely to paint me, I’m just feeling guilty for wasting another 1.5 year of my life and not sure what to do and if taking the meds even short term would actually help or not???
    (or maybe you think if i just got some 5-HTP or something?? less side effects and maybe make me less rigid and improve my smarts???)…

    Please respond. I really respect the opinion of people here and I just really need to bounce it off others…wondering if I ought to just take the meds….and hope they kick in soon!

  6. Chris, thanks for this program! I thought it might be too “touchy-feely,” but my wife decided to purchase it, and we’ve spent the last several days going through it together.

    It’s a very smart program, really well designed and simple to use, and the fitness switch program has already had it’s impact on me – I’m actually looking forward to CrossFit this week! 😉 The program has a very solid foundation in CBT, so it’s rooted in sound science – with a very thoughtful and clever approach to our moods.

    For those commenters above who talk about CBT and EFT, we’ve both done EFT for years, and for some things, it just isn’t “enough.” Dr. Lippmann (who created this Health Switch program) has a fantastic free ebook on his website called “Beyond EFT,” ( where he really bridges the gaps between EFT and CBT – anyway, I wholeheartedly encourage others to check out this program. We are really enjoying helping each other with the new “frames” for our thoughts.

    Thanks again.
    Craig and Brenda

  7. It’s not clear what technique The Health Switch is using, but from what I’ve read on the topic, the most effective treatment for depression and anxiety is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). There are many practitioners of this approach. One of the most popular is Dr. David Burns at Stanford, who has written several books on the topic, such as _Feeling Good_ and _When Panic Attacks_.

    There are few self-help books or on-line courses that are genuinely transformative, but for those who are not seeking individualized help from a therapist, they could do much worse than starting with Burns’ books.

  8. I am totally on board with your advice here Chris, after all, as a Master Practitioner of NLP, Hypnotherapist and Kinesiologist (as well as time served PT and Nutritional Consultant) I have loads of experience of how thoughts and feelings can really damage our health and wellbeing.

    I would like to point out that I’ve seen many clients over the years who’ve tried CBT (which your recommended course above is based on) and just not got success with it. The main reason is that it’s just too mechanical for some problems, and therefore we need to have greater flexibility than the tools of CBT allow. My belief is that the collection of three tools (NLP, the Release Technique and Self Hypnosis) I’ve used in writing my diet and exercise motivation ebook ‘How To Do What You Don’t Want To Do’ offer that flexibility, and in addition are also extraordinarily powerful. I don’t have an affiliate system set up yet, but am planning on how to do that…

    You and your readers can find more about my book here:

    Keep up the good work,

  9. Just an observation; the site gives next to no information about the process and attempts to steer you quickly to paying $67 for the material, claiming that it’s a “$97 value”.

    There’s a large body of free instruction and information about another process called EFT, the emotional freedom technique, which is based on accupressure in the form of an easily learned meridian tapping technique. It’s easy to google the term and read a little about it.

    It may be a good idea to try the free advice first before paying $67 for a vaguely described course from a psychologist. Just my own humble opinion, of course.

  10. Yes. You are SO right about this. You can have the best nutritional truth available to you but if you aren’t dealing with your “stuff” you won’t see long-term health improvements. I should know, I might be the poster-child for this idea! 🙂