In my last article, I wrote about how toxic or excessive productivity has become such a default way of being for so many of us in this culture (x10 during the pandemic!) and offered some tips on how to unravel the conditioning that keeps the ‘productivity wound’ alive. 

In this follow up article, beloved Non Dual teacher Patricia Clum is sharing more wisdom on how to release the conditioning that keeps us trapped in a toxic productivity mindset.  Patricia Clum is a very popular teacher in the Pacific Northwest. She’s the co-founder of Evolution of the Heart and the founder of Wild Heart Sisterhood, an embodiment program and community for women. 

For anyone else who’s ready to release toxic productivity mindset (my hand is up!), the following offers great insight, and a supportive journaling practice. 

The following article is a guest contribution from spiritual guide + embodiment coach, Patricia Clum

What is toxic productivity?

Toxic productivity is the push + relentless drive “to be more”, “do more”, “achieve more”. It can be relentless in our culture where we’re taught to measure our worth by our accomplishments. If you need an example, here’s one:

Toxic productivity and social media.

What are the signs you’re trapped in the clutches of toxic productivity?

When the drive to achieve begins to feel toxic, that’s a sign you’ve got a case of toxic productivity. When you can’t feel good about yourself outside of what you do, that’s another sure sign of toxic productivity. When you’re exhausted and overwhelmed often during your day, that’s a sign that you’ve been pressured by the culture of toxic productivity, so poignantly displayed above.

Releasing the trap of toxic productivity

The good news is, when you become aware of toxic productivity in your life, this awareness offers a valuable opportunity to begin to unwind from the systems, patterns, and beliefs that hold you in patterns of constantly measuring your worth based on factors outside of yourself. Once you acknowledge the patterns that keep toxic productivity alive, there’s a profound opportunity to create a shift, to begin the process of unwinding those patterns and conditioning, and to step into a totally new, free, way of being in this world.

The process of unravelling old conditioning begins as we become willing to listen, to feel and to let go of perceived control. 

I need to be honest, this can be painful work for many of us. 

Our Egos desperately want to maintain the status quo. For those who desire to release toxic patterns, the process is one of meeting our own thresholds of pain. The reason this is so painful is because we end up needing to look at the guarded places we’ve constructed our identities, and, ultimately, our sense of safety and belonging. For example, many of us find our sense of worth/purpose in our careers, accomplishments and productivity. While these are all beautiful, valuable elements of life, when we need these externals to validate our worth, they become toxic.  When these systems are unchallenged within us, the unhealed continues to navigate our experiences of ourselves, and our lives. As we decide to heal, to release and unravel the grip of these self-created constructs, it can be scary, because our belief systems are threatened, our internal biases are threatened, and our critical minds are threatened. 

And, it’s so worth it.

On the other side of this unravelling, is freedom. The path to this freedom is one of allowing ourselves to feel fully. This means, experiencing our emotions as pathways or gateways into our Truth or Higher Self. Friends, it’s called healing for a reason. Toxic beliefs are always wrapped up in layers of protection and fear. As we unearth these, we stir up feelings that may be numb, frozen or deeply rooted, feelings attached to belief systems that sometimes have been carried forward from past generations. To heal and transmute any addiction (including the addiction to approval, appreciation and acceptance), we need to be willing to get to know ourselves from the inside out. As we do this, we step into emotional maturity. We develop a capacity to be with all of life, to be fully present and accepting of who we truly are. To relate with the world and others from a place of total freedom, and ultimately, to open up to all that life has to offer. 

Healing yourself from toxic productivity mindset

Healing toxic productivity doesn’t happen overnight; it’s usually a process. Here, I’m sharing an Inspired Journaling exercise that I often use with my clients, to support this process.

  1. First, set aside a time each day that you’ll dedicate to inspired journaling. It may be before your day begins, mid-day or before bed. 
  2. Second, set an intention that this time is dedicated to support your awareness, healing, and incredible movement towards freedom. 
  3. Set your timer for either 20 or 40 minutes.
  4. Prepare your space, with soft music or palo santo or whatever brings you calm.
  5. Place your hand over your Heart, close your eyes and with your Breath draw all your energy back to self. Letting go of the day. Letting go of expectations. Letting go of the to-do list. 
  6. Feel yourself in your body. Maybe shaking out your hands, stretching your neck, stretching your chest to widen your shoulders, gently stretching forward and backward to open up your ribcage.
  7. As you settle into your space, allow your awareness and breath to take you deeper into yourself. 
  8. Allow yourself to be curious, as layer after layer unfolds.
  9. Bring your pen to paper to flow, no holding back, no editing, allow all awareness and thought to come through your journal writing. 
  10. As you’re writing and allowing yourself to feel what is moving in you, be with any emotion that arises and allow any thought to move through. You are inviting the deepest of self to come to the surface.
  11. As you write, invite both the Light & Shadow within to arise. Through vision, thought, feeling, color, sense, words and awareness. 
  12. As you write, invite your wisdom to come forward. You are strengthening your connection to your Higher Self.
  13. Feel all you feel, write all you write as your pen touches the paper. Hold nothing back. Feel the uncontained, the wild, the ancient. 

Journal Inquiry to release toxic productivity

  1. How do you feel about yourself ? Do you appreciate your mind? Your body? Your heart? 
  2. How do you feel about vulnerability? 
  3. Do you find yourself holding up beliefs or ideologies that your parents or grandparents have held or said about life? Are those beliefs actually true for you? 
  4. When approval for what you have achieved is no longer given, how do you feel about yourself? What emotions arise when this happens? Where do you feel these emotions, and sensations in your body? Be with all of what arises.
  5. Emotions can be uncomfortable. Ask yourself: Do you find that you don’t have time to feel your emotions fully during the day? What emotions have you suppressed? Allow those to come to the surface. 
  6. When you meet a new person, how do you describe yourself? 
  7. What we do in life is only a fragment of who we are. Take a moment and visualize your daily routine. Who are you in everyday life? Do you have time to connect to self? To others? Do you allow the fullness of who you are to be expressed? 
  8. In your day-to-day life, do you have time to be with You? 
  9. Are you willinging to be curious enough to question your own beliefs around who you think you are? 

Patricia Clum is an incredible spiritual guide, and women’s embodiment leader. If you’re looking for a safe container, and a community within which to explore spiritual healing and growth, she offers The Becoming, an 8-week online program for women, that offer deep support + connection.


Toxic Productivity: What it is + how to release it.