One day, one of my lab mates was working with some nasty chemical. I was observing his work and was appalled by the smell of the chemical and made a “brrr” sound signalling my disgust. The person asked me whether it was the smell that was bothering me and that I could leave if I wanted to. I answered that it was fine and that I would have to get used to it anyway. He then said: “Funny, how you just get used to it and don’t smell it anymore and actually forget that it has such a bad smell until someone comes in and says yuck.”
The bottle had a lot of stickers on it signalling how dangerous and nasty it is. This made me wonder why we would expose ourselves to such dangerous chemicals to the point that we get so used to it and forget that it is toxic. Then I wondered to how much more we expose ourselves in the lab and don’t even notice anymore. Two seconds later and my brain had taken this thought into an every day life context.
How much shit do we put up with without even noticing anymore that it is there and forgetting about the harm it can provide? How many toxic people do we let into our lives not even noticing that they are intoxicating our surroundings? How many times do we let people take advantage of us and drain us without noticing the harm?
An observer would see those toxicities in an instant, the same as I smelled the chemical while I was there. But even when someone points out that there is something toxic to a degree in our lives, we dismiss it. Obviously, in the context of the lab, I guess you don’t have much choice if you want to be successful in the experiments you are doing and need to use that chemical. But what are our excuses in our every day lives? To some extent you are aware of the danger in the lab and know how to behave sufficiently safe enough. The invisible toxicities outside the lab represent a bigger danger though. Unlike the toxins in the lab, the ones in our lives don’t have labels on them. We are easily unaware of them and forget about them. This all leads to us not giving our psychological self enough credit or enough worry. You wouldn’t eat a mouldy apple, would you? But how many mouldy things are affecting your mind? It is time to give those toxicities more credit and to put our minds forwards into a care priority. Because even if we don’t notice the bad smell anymore, it is still affecting you. And that mental clutter is going to be the one defeating us! Let’s have a think about those every day toxins and how we could reduce them to have a healthy mind.