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3 Ways to Declutter Your Mind

Photo by Shelby U
What a liberation to realize that the “voice in my head” is not who I am. Who am I then? The one who sees that. ~Eckhart Tolle

We all lead busy lives. In today’s world, it’s as if it’s a badge of honor. Always rushing to the next thing. Working late to meet that deadline to please a boss or client. Driving from one kid’s soccer practice to the other.

With all of the busyness that fills our days, weeks and months, our mental space begins to fill simultaneously. Internal thinking begins to pile high collecting dust. Stress and anxiety begin to form, ultimately, transcending into our outer world. Our days become even busier with stress and anxiety layered on top.

This is especially true during times of personal struggle. Our mental space becomes so cluttered with thoughts of reality, sprinkled in with fictitious inner-ramblings that we often find it hard to decipher between the two.

When my wife and I decided to sell our business of three years, it put us in a not-so-desirable position financially. As we found ourselves struggling, I, without even knowing, handed the keys of my outer world to my inner world’s chattering ego.

Stuck in the Past

Instead of finding ways to move forward, I froze. I thought about all of the decisions we made over the last three years. I pointed fingers and placed blame. I was stuck in the past wanting to relive it, hoping to change it.

I thought about the things we should or shouldn’t have done. I thought about how our family wouldn’t be in the position we found ourselves in if only we did this instead of that.

I pushed off accepting and owning the reality in which we lived. I didn’t want to feel failure. My ego was in total control, and it was taking me down unnecessary rabbit holes of fictitious thoughts.

The more I surrendered to my inner dialogue, the more mental clutter was accumulating. As this began to stack, I could see and feel the stress and anxiety creeping up around the corner.

It got to a point where my inner dialogue was transcending my outer world. Pain and darkness ensued. Relationships became toxic. I was beginning to hurt the people I loved and cherished most.

Then, for a split second, I noticed how unhealthy I was becoming, both emotionally and physically, and how much hurt I was causing those around me. For a split second I heard the dialogue taking place in my head; the voice using words feeding the bad wolf.

I knew I had to do something.

Taking Care of Myself

I made a decision, a vow in fact, and committed to being intentional about my self-growth. I had to rediscover who I was. I had to reestablish my values. I had to get back to the way I wanted to feel. I had to take care of myself first in order to give my best self to others.

In order to accomplish any portion of this, I had to start by decluttering my mental space. My head chatter was clouding the lens in which I saw the world. I had to find ways to eliminate the clutter and make space for presence and truth.

Here are three ever so simple, but foundational, ways to declutter your mental space:

1. Read

As much as I wanted to find an escape, what I needed most was connection and perspective. Escaping is merely suppressing the pain, allowing it to fester and morph into something much larger than what it already was.

When you’re able to recognize the feeling of wanting to escape, use it as a springboard toward self-growth and reinvention.

Reading connected me to the power of personal story and shed light onto perspective. It made me see the very thing that caused me such pain a little bit differently. The lens in which I saw the world changed, and a shift in mindset transpired.

2. Meditate

Meditation doesn’t have to be sitting on the floor with your back straight and hands on your knees while concentrating on your breathing. As powerful as this has been for me, meditation can be as simple as finding joy in the quiet — finding space within your day to be bored and still. It’s finding solitude.

These practices allow the busyness of our daily lives to slow down – to become more present with the moment and to become one with ourselves. It’s finding wholeness and connection with ourselves.

3. Write

Writing has been an answered prayer. It’s the purest form of release. It’s the city dump and charity to the thoughts that clutter your mental space. Writing wholeheartedly in a journal holds the key to personal discoveries you couldn’t have even imagined.

Allowing everything to pass from my egotistic head chatter to my fingers and onto paper has become the foundation to my self-growth. When I don’t write, I notice. The feeling of busyness and anxiety begin to creep in again.

Decluttering your mental space uncovers the truth that sits within you, most times buried under the unnecessary. As your truth emerges and you begin to live life through it a sense of lightness takes over. Meaning and purpose ensue.

Our inner world is often the thing that gets neglected, even though it’s the very thing feeding our outer world. As you might look to declutter your physical possessions, pause and pay attention to your inner dialogue. Maybe, just maybe, your next task is decluttering your mental clutter.

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About the author

Eric Ungs, founder of Unless You Care project, writes about a journey of intentional self-growth, nudging you to let go, to give yourself permission to be vulnerable and  to be honest with yourself so you can give your best self to others. Author of 10 Incredible Ways to Live a Fulfilling and Joyful Life.

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