“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.” – Marcus Aurelius
In the world of professional organization, we put a lot of emphasis on physical clutter. But what about mental clutter? What about the thoughts and ruminations that keep us awake at night? How do we take control of our thoughts?! Often times our mental clutter manifests in physical clutter. This is something we definitely want to avoid!
One lesson life has taught me is that the first place we lose our footing is in our minds. So much of our suffering is a result of our thoughts. Beliefs are so, so powerful. If you believe you are disorganized, it’s true. If you believe you are broken and cannot heal or change, it is true. But guess what? If you believe you are capable of growth and change, that is also true!
Learning to take control of our thoughts is simple, but it is not easy. As with so many things in life, it takes practice. The first step in learning to control our thoughts is awareness. We need to get familiar with both our conscious and subconscious beliefs. Our subconscious beliefs have a huge impact on our decision making, yet we aren’t even aware of what those underlying beliefs actually are! But you can start to tune into them by slowing down and paying attention. When you open a drawer and find a mangled mess of clothing, what thoughts run through your head? It’s natural to feel frustrated when we can’t find what we are looking for in our drawer, but what is the inner dialogue that takes place? Do you feel like a failure? Like you’ll never be organized? Or that you are not “good enough” because your drawer does not look like Marie Kondo’s?
Once you become aware of the belief, it is very important to ask yourself two questions:
First up – is it true? Is it really true that you are a failure because your drawer is messy? Um, that’s an easy ‘no.’ Are you really not good enough? Again, firm ‘no.’ Will you never be organized? Well, that depends on which belief about yourself you believe. You can choose to believe it’s impossible or totally doable. Again, if you believe it to be true, it is.
Exploring the origin of the belief is also helpful. When we were children, we absorbed many messages/beliefs about ourselves based on our experiences with those around us. Young children do not have the capability of understanding the complex world around them. If you spilled a glass of milk and your mom got upset with you, you may have developed the belief that you are “messy” or “not capable.” But now that we are adults, our brains have the ability to understand that there are multiple perspectives in any given situation. Maybe mom was really stressed out after a long day at work and no sleep the night prior? Maybe she just got some bad news and was processing that internally? We really don’t know why she was upset, but one thing is true – just because you spilled a glass of milk does not mean that you are messy or not capable of learning from your mistakes. We need to learn to parent our inner child who has been operating from a place of fear or worry about not being capable or not being enough. The “adult you” can reassure the “inner child you” and give them what they need to feel that they are loved and truly capable of learning new ways of being in this world.
Sometimes thoughts seem to just pop into our heads and distract us. When this happens, it is important to assess the quality of our thoughts. Ask yourself, “is this thought serving me? Is it helping me achieve my goals? Or is this thought distracting me and taking up valuable time that could be spent working towards my goals?
Another great strategy for learning to take control of our thoughts is to remember this one simple truth – everything is temporary. Every obstacle we face, every limitation, every struggle is temporary.
At Create Calm, we strongly believe that when we are empowered with the right organizational tools and strategies, any goal is possible. Comment below and share your favorite strategy for controlling mental clutter!