It’s estimated that we have approximately 60,000 thoughts a day – that’s 41 thoughts a minute!
And they aren’t always fresh and positive. Often we replay the same old negative tapes:
I’m not worthy or good enough
My life would be better if I had more money, a bigger house, a better spouse or a new job
I’m too old to…
It’s not your fault. It’s neuroscience. Humans have a negativity bias to protect us from potential danger. As psychologist Rick Hanson explains – the brain is like Velcro for negative experiences, but Teflon for positive ones.
This means your mind tends to focus on worry, fear and doubt. And because you become what you think about all day you don’t move forward personally or professionally. Rather than making your next chapter your best chapter, you stay stuck and find experiencing joy, purpose and meaning elusive.
However, just like you can clean out your closets, garage and dusty drawers you can declutter your mind.
To help you I’ve created a 5-day Declutter YourMind Challenge. It starts December 17th. You can sign up HERE. Dozens of women have already joined the challenge and the energy we are creating together is positive and motivational.
Here are some practices to get you started:
1. Dispute self-doubt
Self-doubt runs deep, which is why you can’t gloss it over with positive self-talk. The best way to defeat it is to challenge your negative thinking.
Decluttering tip: Take on a challenge by doing something outside your comfort zone. This will prove that you are stronger and more competent and capable than you currently believe. Over time this will change how you think and see yourself. Bonus, you’ll build confidence!
2. Sort ruminating from problem solving
Whether you are looking for a new job, improving a difficult relationship or dealing with a health issue, know the difference between ruminating (literally chewing over the issue in your mind) and finding a solution. Not sure of the difference? Notice your energy. Ruminating makes you feel heavy and stuck, while problem solving feels creative and lite.
When you catch yourself ruminating stop. While you may think hashing over the same things again and again or imagining the worst will help you solve your problem it actually keeps you stuck in reverse. Instead ask yourself: What possible ways could I solve this?
Decluttering tip: Can’t stop ruminating? Limit worry time.Give yourself 15 minutes to ruminate and worry. That’s it!
3. Jettison pity parties
Feeling disappointed when things don’t go your way is natural. However, don’t amplify misfortune and convince yourself that your problems are worse than anyone else’s. This will keep you stuck. Remember, failing, making mistakes, experiencing misfortune is part of the human condition.
Rather than feeling sorry for yourself, take positive action. Even if you can’t find a solution, you can choose to do something else to improve your life.
Decluttering tip: Look for words that imply you are a victim such as “Bad things always happen to me,” or “No one understands.”
4. Clear space
Physical clutter triggers mental clutter. It overwhelms the mind with too much stimuli, which forces the brain to work overtime. Having more stuff makes you feel like there’s more stuff to do.
Declutting tip: No need to rid yourself of everything all at once. Spend a few minutes everyday getting rid of what you no longer need, want or use. Toss it or give it to someone who can really use it.
5. Unload your brain
Remembering everything you have to do is impossible particularly at midlife. Instead of trying to recall all the details download what you need to keep track of.
Decluttering tip: Use a system to keep track of what you need to do and remember. Experiment with apps and online tools. Use a word processing document, Excel spreadsheet or piece of paper to write down appointments, ideas, phone numbers and to-dos.
When you notice a negative thought, belief or behavior write it down. This will create self-awareness enabling you to eventually rid yourself of the distracting mind clutter
Decluttering tip: Carry a small notebook with you and get in the habit of writing down the thoughts that are no longer serving you.
This is the most important step of all! Meditation particularly Vipassana or Insight meditation, which entails focusing on the breathe, noticing thoughts and allowing them to come and go like clouds in the sky. Not only will you declutter your mind, you’ll develop mindfulness – clear awareness of exactly what is happening while it is happening, which will generate joy and satisfaction.
Declutter your mind now and you’ll have the time and energy to devote to the positive, productive dreams and goals you want to accomplish in 2019. Plus, you’ll build the mental strength you need to step into your brilliance and make your next chapter your best chapter.