World Mental Health Day - De-cluttering Your Mind
Mental health is a subject close to my heart, I love the fact it’s becoming more and more acceptable for people to openly discuss it.
We no longer have to suffer in silence, pretending that everything is okay when it’s not. Feeling like we are going crazy or making something out of nothing, or like we are the only ones going through something.
Mental health is not only depression, anxiety, PTSD etc. you don’t have to wait for a diagnosis for you to start taking care of your mental health. Other signs maybe: feelings of not being good enough, low self-esteem, feeling stressed out, constantly worrying, feeling tired all the time, feeling like you’re stuck in a rut, having a negative outlook on life, feeling unsatisfied with life.
There is a misconception that you only need to go to see a psychologist if you are at rock bottom and don’t know where else to turn. But that’s not the only time it’s good to go and talk to somebody. If you are trying to make sense of something, trying to find an answer when you’re not really sure of the question, it’s a good time to seek help and support.
One of the best things I have ever done for my mental health was to delve into, and de-clutter my mind, the amount of out of date, obsolete thoughts and ideas that I had been carrying around with me for more years than I care to remember was astounding. And I can’t even begin to tell you how liberating it was to off load them.
Clutter is not just physical stuff, it’s old ideas, toxic relationships and bad habits. – Eleanor Brown
De-Cluttering our Mind
Everything that has had an impact in our lives becomes stored in our memory.
Some of these things are still fresh in our mind and we can recall them at a moments notice, sometimes they just ‘pop’ into our conscious mind without us even asking them to. They re-play like little movies and bring back the pain, discomfort or joy we felt when they happened. But what about all the things that made an impact that we can’t recall because we were too young, or we’ve buried it so deep. Just because we can’t recall them at the drop of a hat doesn’t mean they are not in there affecting our everyday decisions.
Regardless of whether the messages we received as children are positive or negative, they are still having an impact on our daily lives. Whether we have a career or a job, if our relationships are healthy or toxic, our self-worth and self-belief, our finances, our home choice, the car we drive, the decor in our homes, the clothes we wear, how we speak to people, how we present ourselves, everything, including how we see the world we live in.
If we were lucky enough to be filled with positive messages about ourselves from a young age we are probably living our best life. However those of us who received more negative than positive affirmations throughout our childhood – probably aren’t.
Never get so comfortable in pain that you forget happiness is an option.
Most of us have memories of being a child, nevertheless a lot of our childhood is buried deep in our unconscious memories. Somethings because they are just small, seemingly inconsequential events others because they are too painful.
As children we learn to take on what we are taught as ‘truth’ even though it may not be your truth, it may have been the truth of your parents, your extended family, your teachers, your preachers and anyone else who helped raise you. If what you learned as a child is at odds with what you know as an adult, it will cause confliction and confusion.
If you were taught that you were a loser, or not good enough, won’t amount to much, not clever or smart, not capable, a drama queen, too sensitive, silly, a show-off, selfish, a liar or any other negative things, you probably believed them, and possibly still do to some extent on an unconscious level.
We are all born with endless possibilities, but if we are taught otherwise, we don’t see what we are capable of and never even try. We resign ourselves to ‘the hand we have been dealt’ we resign ourselves to what we know.
Why would anyone teach their children, nieces and nephews, grandchildren, students’ negative things about themselves? There are lots of reasons people do this, quite often it starts with the negative limitations they were given as a child. If they were taught, they weren’t smart enough, not good enough, not capable, they may well teach you the same thing. Some because they truly believe that you are stuck with the life you have been given, and if you are born into a working class family you stay there, you were born to do menial jobs for menial money. Some because, if you do better than them it will make them feel inferior to their own child.
But to be free of these old out of date thoughts and ideas and become the person you know you really are, you have to be prepared for it to get a little messy, just like when you start clearing out the storage cupboard/attic/garage etc.
We’ve all done it I’m sure, started sorting out the cupboard/attic/garage. And before long we have exclaimed out loud (even if no one else is there) ‘I’d forgotten I had that!’ and before long we have managed to pull out every box, every bag and emptied their contents all over the floor. Hours go by and we have played with the old toys, looked through the photographs, tried on the jumper or skirt, held up and examined the old trophies. Then we look around us and see the mess we have made and the mountain of work we have created for ourselves. Part of us wishes we hadn’t started this now. The couple of hours of discovery is going to take twice as long if not longer to clean up. Some items have to be put back carefully; others need to go for good. The decisions that need to be made become overwhelming and letting some stuff go may be difficult. But you know it has to be done.
Clutter isn't just the stuff in your closet, it's anything that gets between you and the life you want to be living. – Peter Walsh
Clearing your mind of other peoples negative ideas you have taken on is much the same, it’s interesting at first, enlightening, revealing etc. although before long it may feel overwhelming, or too hard and you may begin to wish you’d never started. But deep down you know that if you carry on you will feel lighter, clearer and have room for more stuff that you actually want in your life.
As you identify the negatives about yourself in your mind, you may well discover their sources, their narrators. Be careful not to get angry at them or too frustrated with them, remember- they only taught you what they know, whether it be through their own genuine belief of the undesirable message or through their own fear. Either way getting angry will not help you or punish them. Just accept it as their belief about themselves, and absolutely nothing to do with you - let it go, not for them, for you.
William Morris once said that you should ‘have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful of believe to be beautiful’. Why should our minds be any different? If everything in our mind was either useful or beautiful, just think how light we could feel.
If you feel like too much is going on, that your experience is full of chaos or that being pulled in different directions, that is a sign for you to de-clutter. – Alexis Donkin
Speaking to a psychologist to help you discover and discard these negative messages that were given to you as you were growing up is a great way to get started. It is important that you find the right support for you, and if you don’t connect with the first professional you seek help from, do not give up looking for the right support. There are also great self-help books out there to guide you too. I personally did both. Self-help books got me started but when I got stuck or too overwhelmed, I turned to a professional to help me over the hurdles.
There is plenty of help out there and we have to help ourselves by actively seeking the support we need.
Letting go of the old beliefs that are stopping you from living the life you want to be living is one of the most empowering things you can do for yourself.
Keep going… it’s worth it.