Clutter. When we hear the word, we most often think of physical things—the stuff that literally gets in our way, the papers that cover our dining room tables, the boxes full of we-don’t-even-remember-what on our shelves. It’s another type of clutter, though, that is responsible for holding us back and getting in our way in an even more invasive manner—mental clutter.
What is mental clutter?
Mental clutter is the constant chatter that plays in our head like a recording on auto-repeat. It’s negative self-talk. It’s the shoulda-woulda-coulda regrets. It’s the overthinking of situations. It’s the limiting beliefs we have about ourselves. It’s a victim mentality. And it’s brutal.
When it comes to physical clutter, we are often prompted to clean it up because we literally bump into it. Others may see it and then make judgments about it and us (cue the mental clutter). Mental clutter, though, lives inside of us.
We tell ourselves others can’t see it. It’s not like the unopened mail scattered all over our kitchen counter. It’s a little secret we can keep to ourselves, and no one else needs to be privy to that information.
Others do know about it, though. Our mental clutter isn’t tangible like our physical clutter, but we show it nonetheless. We show it in the ways we carry ourselves—slumped shoulders, avoidance of eye contact, little interaction with others during group discussions. We show it in the ways we talk about ourselves—telling others we didn’t go for the promotion because it’s obvious Penelope is better suited for it since she’s not tied down with raising kids. We show it when we tell our friends we’re still regretting not going for the promotion, and we can’t believe Penelope actually got it.
The little secret we think we’re keeping isn’t so secret. The good news is we don’t have to live with a dirty secret like that. There are ways to clear that mental clutter so we’re able to show up in ways that serve us much more graciously. Here are some of those ways.
1. Say NO to perfection.
We think the ultimate goal is perfection—perfect family, perfect job, perfect house, perfect clothes, perfect perception by others. Perfection is an illusion, though. It’s unattainable, and in trying to attain it, we sabotage our own efforts to live with more peace and clarity in our lives. We’re taught to go for straight As in school, but as we grow and mature, the people who really figure out this thing called life realize a life full of B-minus results actually gives us that peace and clarity we so desire. Give yourself a break from the perfection mindset.
2. Take responsibility.
Our life is ours to do with what we’d like. Will there be people and situations that sometimes get in the way of the results we’re striving to achieve? Of course. And we have the choice of either giving them that great power or not. When obstacles get in our way, it’s time to focus on what we can do differently to overcome those obstacles. Falling victim to them only increases limiting beliefs we have about ourselves. Take your power back and move forward confidently.
3. Move toward your future.
The past is there for a reason. We can shoulda-woulda-coulda ourselves to death, but we can’t change what’s already happened. The events we’ve experienced all teach us valuable lessons, and often the negative experiences teach us more than the positive ones. Take those negative experiences; find the lessons to be gained in them; and move forward courageously with those lessons guiding the way. Your future self will be glad you did.
4. Make powerful decisions.
Confusion is an aspect of mental clutter. We get stuck in “I don’t know” answers which only prolong the process of moving forward powerfully. With each unmade decision hanging out there, we create open loops in our brains. Each open loop floats in our brain until we decide to close it. Closing an open loop is as easy as making a decision. Take a moment to focus on your open loops, and start closing them today.
5. Enjoy the silence.
Music, television, video games, people talking—it seems we rarely have silence in our lives. External noise can work to drown out the mental clutter we’re living with. Once we take the time to put in the effort to clear that clutter, though, it’s astonishing how calming the silence can be. Make a commitment to move forward each day with steps to clear your mental clutter, and get ready for the beautiful silence you’re about to hear.
Tracy has the great privilege of working individually with successful, polished, and prosperous women. She calls them powerhouse women! On the outside, they’re winning on all counts. On the inside, though, they often feel stressed, overwhelmed, and not good enough. They hire Tracy to help them clear their clutter and reset their stories so their internal perception matches their external perception. If you’re interested in clearing your clutter and want to learn how Tracy can help, click here to set up a call!