As a professional organizer, I see all kinds of clutter. I’m usually called in to help clients clear physical clutter. Things just need to be straightened, purged and streamlined and they’re on their way to a more organized space.
But sometimes, what I find is that the physical clutter is preceded by mental clutter – and dealing with mental clutter is a roadblock to true change and freedom.
I see three forms of mental clutter – regretting the past, comparing ourselves to others, and negative self-talk. All of these keep us from moving forward and living the best life we can.
I have personally experienced all three forms of mental clutter in my life. Today, I recognize them and realize that they don’t move me forward or help me enjoy my life. I have forgotten the past, embraced who I am, and focus on only thinking and speaking positively of myself. These three strategies have helped me to move past the mental clutter and you can do it, too!
Strategy for getting past regrets
For years, I regretted not completing my bachelor’s degree. I had married young and started a family soon after. One day, my younger daughter overheard me mention it yet again and said, “Just do it. Go back and finish.” That was the catalyst that made me return to school and complete my degree. What I did was take that regret and put it into action.
If you can do something about any regrets you have, then just do it! The other side of the coin is letting go of the regrets that you cannot do anything about. Realize that those regrets serve no purpose and hold you back from enjoying life. Decide today to forget what lies behind and press on to the good things that are waiting for you.
Strategy for embracing ourselves
The second type of mental clutter is comparing ourselves to others, resulting in us feeling inferior or trying to be more like other people. For years I compared myself, thinking I wasn’t smart enough or didn’t have the skills I needed to start my own business. Now I know differently.
Does it seem to you that others are smarter, prettier, more organized, or more successful than you? It helps to recognize and accept that there will always be people who are greater and lesser than ourselves in every way. Real happiness comes from finding the path that was intended specifically for you and embracing it. You won’t succeed at being anyone other than yourself. And, in fact, the world is waiting for you to share what only YOU can share.
Strategy for dealing with negative self-talk
Negative self-talk can really hold us back from living a fantastic life. I challenge my organizing and coaching clients to look at things in a different way. This technique is called “re-framing” – expressing words, concepts, or plans in a different way.
First, you acknowledge (through self-awareness) that negative self-talk is counter-productive. Next, you re-frame those negative thoughts or words and replace them with positive ones. When I hear clients say “I’ll never change,” I encourage them to only speak positively about themselves, even if they don’t believe it yet. “I’ll never change” can be re-framed as “I am learning and getting better at this every day.”
The words we speak can be self-fulfilling prophesy. When we begin to re-frame those negative thoughts and words and turn them into positive ones, we are making an intentional decision to shape a better present and future.
Laurie Malloy is a Professional Organizer and a Personal Life Coach currently seeking credentialing through the International Coach Federation (ICF). She and her daughter have co-owned Simple Spaces, LLC since 2010. She is passionate about helping people clear mental, physical and financial clutter from their lives. Learn more about Laurie and the work she is doing at Simplespaces.us