As the weather begins to warm up it may seem like everything around you is finding new life. The flowers begin to bloom, trees blossom and the days get longer. Spring is the time that we may find ourselves itching to take off work early, clean out our closets and get outside. But what if you are stuck feeling weighed down and miserable?
Much like things pile up around the house, we can develop mental clutter. Mental clutter consists of all the un-useful thoughts taking up precious space in our minds. These thoughts are often critical, judgmental and self-deprecating. Sometimes this mental clutter gets so bad that it takes over and prevents us from concentrating on the things we care about most. The problem with mental clutter is that we can become unaware that it’s stacking up, leaving us feeling anxious, drained or overwhelmed. Imagine if you could clean out some of your mental “junk” replacing it with more healthy thoughts and feelings? Many of us desire change and a sense of renewal that comes with letting go of mental junk but are unsure of how to do this. Below are some suggestions to get you started:
- Motivate: Envision what life will be like when you don’t have this mental baggage anymore. What will you notice? What will you enjoy? Write the reasons you are doing this down to keep yourself accountable
- Identify a “room”: When we clean, it helps to create a concrete goal of what we want to accomplish. If we are too broad or unrealistic we may fail at our task. Identify your targeted “clean out area.” This could be: thoughts about relationships, family, work, abilities, etc. Try and focus on one area mindfully
- Identify what is “Junk”: We cannot throw something away until we know there is no use for it. Many times we are not aware that our thoughts are damaging and/or not serving us. Using a thought record (much like a food journal) can help to identify what is actually going on upstairs.
- Stop being a (thought) hoarder: We hold onto useless thoughts just as a hoarder might hold onto useless belongings. And just like a hoarder, we have a very difficult time giving these thoughts away. If we do not have awareness of the damaging impact of these thoughts we might cling to them because we (falsely) believe that they motivate us, and that they are TRUE
- Attitude of compassion: It can be difficult to get rid of mental junk that’s been hanging around for years. Try and refrain from self-judgment or self criticism for having unproductive thoughts or feelings. Remember a thought is a thought and a feeling is a feeling, nothing else.
- Make a list: Of positive affirmations, accomplishments and review as often as needed.
- Recruit a friend or family member: Sometimes it’s hard to see our positive qualities. Enlist people in your life to help you recognize your personal strengths.