Don’t Sip from the Stream of Polluted Thoughts



“No matter where you go or what you do, you live your entire life within the confines of your head.” — Terry Josephson

With our minds, we can spiral up, or spiral down.

If we think the thoughts that serve us, then we can put ourselves into a more resourceful state, find our motivation, and attract more of what we want.

You Take Your Power Away When You Drink from the Stream of Polluted Thoughts

If we drink from the steam of polluted thoughts, we can quickly disempower ourselves, put ourselves in a state of anxiety, and lose our motivation and drive.

In the book, 180: Climbing the Two Ladders of Inner Strength and Outer Freedom, Rob White shares insight and action on how not to sip from the stream of polluted thoughts, and instead, direct your thoughts in a way that lifts you.

Thoughts are Forever Flowing

Rob says that there’s no shortage of thoughts to tap into.

Via 180: Climbing the Two Ladders of Inner Strength and Outer Freedom:

“The collective consciousness of humanity is jam packed with thoughts of every nature.  These thoughts are forever flowing through your individual field of consciousness, and are as immediately available to you as the air you breathe.”

Don’t Sip from a Polluted Stream

Rob says that toxic thoughts work against our vital life.

Via 180: Climbing the Two Ladders of Inner Strength and Outer Freedom:

“Just as continually sipping on a stream of polluted water will harm your body, continually sipping on a stream of polluted thoughts will harm your psychic condition.  You cannot experience a vital life with a damaged psychic condition.”

You are the Air Traffic Controller

Rob says that we direct our thoughts and determine the stream from which we drink.

Via 180: Climbing the Two Ladders of Inner Strength and Outer Freedom:

“You are the air traffic controller when it comes to the stream of thoughts that land on your field of consciousness.  You determine the stream of thoughts that you flag in, and the stream of thoughts that pass through, unnoticed by you.”

Do You Think Positive Thoughts or Do You Think Negative Thoughts?

A colleague told me that sometimes you’ll see questionnaires ask things twice — once in the positive and once in the negative.   She explained they do this for two reasons: 1) Because you might have missed the point of the question, and 2) Because some people tend to think in the positive, and others tend to think in the negative.

I thought it was a great bit of insight.  For me, I know I shifted to more positive by focusing on what I want, not what I don’t want, and by asking “What’s right with this picture?”, before asking, “What’s wrong with this picture?”  If you want to change your focus, change the question.

Are you thinking the thoughts that serve you?

Photo by SteveD.


  1. Good stuff. Makes sense.

    I’ve used a similar “river” model myself noting that if my thoughts are negative, I’m dumping sewage into the stream of thoughts. Even if I stop, it’ll take a little time for that to flow down river and for it to clear up.

    So the first stage is to stop dumping into the river. The second is not to get aggravated and negative if it doesn’t clear up immediately. Depending on how long you’ve been dumping, it’ll take time for your body to catch up and you to feel better.

    At one point in my life, I noted a full two weeks between when I when I stopped beating myself up for have screwed up a relationship and when I felt much better mentally and physically.

  2. I heard a preacher recently talk about hitting the delete button every time we catch ourselves engaging in negative thinking. I love that image of pushing the delete button. Delete the negative thoughts and substitute positive thoughts! Repeat until you believe them!

  3. “Don’t Sip from the Stream of Polluted Thoughts”—what a striking metaphor. And so true. I’ve found myself hanging onto negativity, ruminating, when I know the only way out is to flip a mental bit.

    I prefer your more positive frame: “Think the thoughts that serve you”.

    Investors Business Daily’s founder William J. O’Neil has 10 Rules for Success, the first one of which includes, “Attitude is everything”. Napoleon Hill’s writing is permeated with the importance of attitude. Dittos for William James, as well as others. My favorite “attitude quote” of all is this:

    We are what we think.
    All that we are arises in our minds.
    With our thoughts, we make our world.

  4. @ Rob — I like your point about how it takes your body time to catch up depending on how long you’ve been dumping. It’s like getting out of ruts, carving new paths, and building new grooves.

    @ Galen — The delete metaphor is easy to relate to.

    Interestingly, there’s some good research about how when we visualize, we should focus on our goal, see the challenges, and acknowledge them. Acknowledging the challenges helps us deal with the setbacks.

    @ Jimmy — “With our thoughts we make OUR world”, says it all. Good stuff.

  5. Hi JD,

    Our minds can float or sink us. I would know since I had to struggle against negative thoughts for the larger part of my life. That is not to say I am in complete control today, but my self-mastery is indeed better than it was. At least, I realize when my thoughts are sinking me and I do what I need to do to shift my perspective.

    Those are great ideas you have shared from Rob on how to manage our thoughts. I agree that we should not sip from a polluted stream. It not only harms your on a mental level, but it carries on over to the emotional and physical areas of your life as well. You are what you think and how you think affects you in greater ways that you realize, especially in terms of our choices and actions.

    Thank you for sharing this lovely article!

    Irving the Vizier

  6. @ Irving — Well put. This is a great synthesis …”You are what you think … especially in terms of our choices and actions.”

  7. Hi JD .. as with everyone we all have good and negative thoughts .. I’ve learnt to deal with mine – especially in recent years. I try not to be opinionated – but put other perspectives across … so I don’t get lost in negativity (well I wouldn’t anyway). Things creep in – but I turn those thoughts towards the positives and advantages I have – looking on the bright side.

    Cheers Hilary

  8. JD,

    Thoughts are things. They are tangible. And, our thoughts shape our lives. That’s why I love Descartes’s famous line, “I think, therefore I am.”

  9. And if anybocy I know is an air traffic controller on the positive kind — it’s J.D. Meier!

    Thanks for sharing Rob White’s and your insights.

    I must say since I got into blogging and enjoying site’s like yours and Liara Covert’s it’s easy to let thoughts be happy.


  10. @ Hilary — I like the way you find your balance. Having an opinion is a good thing. Being open to other perspectives is a great thing. And distinguishin facts, from fiction, from opinions, from emotions, and policies, really helps to paint a balanced view.

    @ Shilpan — I love that expression and I haven’t heard it in years. Thank you for bringing it back to my top of mind.

    @ Jannie — Looking back, I think the most profound insight for me was “Your thoughts shape your feelings.”

    You’ve created a Funshine palace on the Web and you set a great example of baking the fun factor into everday experiences. It’s your gift and you share it well.

  11. Ho timely!
    I caught myself lately thinking bad thoughts about myself, family, work, what not… and it bothered me ton. The most bothering thing was I could not get rid of, tried to shake my head – nothing helped until I recalled a little trick. When I think toxic thought I tell myself “just don’t think about white polar bear” many times. This obviously gets me busy to think about white polar bears dumping the toxic thoughts. Hey, what toxic could be about white polar bears anyway, eh? 😉

  12. @ Alik — Negative thoughts are like a magnet. However, you can use them to empower you. My best use for them is extreme motivation. If I take action from them, that’s a good thing. If I stew in my own juices, that’s a bad thing. It’s rumination or “resistance” that defeats us.

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