It’s that time of year when we bring out next seasons clothes and become re-familiar with what’s been stored away. It’s when the old can become “new” again. When we can make decisions about things we want to keep, discard or give away.
If you got swept up in the decluttering craze of Marie Kondo’s book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” like I did, you know all about only keeping items that you love and how to properly fold and store what you decide to keep. My husband joked that he had never seen our counter tops so sparse than when I became obsessed with the Kondo method.
This week I’m sharing the most important first step to organizing and simplifying your life and an exercise that will change how you feel in a dramatic way.
The thing I know now that has been missing from the organizing and simplifying craze is what I would consider as the first step before emptying everything from your closet onto the floor. It can make your life dramatically more organized and simplified and doesn’t require any storage bins.
Does a simpler life call to you?
Ask yourself this:
- Is my life too busy?
- Have I normalized a feeling of overwhelm?
- What am I building and where am I going with my current lifestyle?
- Is there a better future to it?
- Is that future costing me my present?
I used to think that if I went through my closets, attic and garage every fall and donated or threw away a bunch of things, my life would magically become simpler, stress free and manageable. That was a nice idea but every October I’d be back to the same place wondering why I still felt overwhelmed.
Your life is a reflection of your mind
What I have learned is that before we can organize our stuff, we need to start organizing our minds. What is showing up on the “outside” is a reflection of what’s going on “inside”.
We have had approximately 60,000 thoughts every day for our entire lives. Can you imagine the warehouse you would need in order to store that many “things”? Our brain has been processing, deleting and storing those 22 million thoughts a year and many of those thoughts have become beliefs that run in the background of our efficient, computer-like brain.
If you are experiencing unwanted emotions, you probably have thoughts running in the background that you aren’t even aware of.
Why you should organize your thoughts
If you’ve been reading my blogs you know I’m all about showing you how to manage your mind. Just like emptying out your spice cabinet, you need to take a look at the thoughts that have “expired” as well as the ones that were useful at one time for one “recipe” and now just take up space in your mind.
As humans we have the gift of being able to think about what we think about. By becoming more aware of your thoughts, you can consciously choose what you want to think instead of letting the old programming of your mind choose for you.
By discarding what’s no longer useful and making room for thoughts that represent who you would like to be, you begin to manage your mind at a much higher level. Your feelings, action and results then become within your control.
If you are like me, there are probably some thoughts creating worry, fear, self-doubt and a whole bunch of energy draining feelings. Organizing your mind makes it easier to feel emotions like peace, happiness, excitement and self-love.
How to start organizing your mind
As part of a month long program I took with The Life Coach School, I learned to sit first thing in the morning with a piece of paper or a journal and just spend 5 to 10 minutes writing whatever thoughts I was thinking. We were taught to not think about what we are writing, just write. This is called a “thought download”.
When you become the observer of your thoughts by just writing them down on paper, you are no longer the thinker. You are able to take a step back, choose one thought at a time and ask yourself:
- Does this thought serve me?
- Do I really want to think this thought?
- Is this thought current or outdated?
Be prepared for the amazing insights you will have while uncovering the thoughts that were about to create your day and have been creating each day throughout your life.
Here are some of the thoughts that I found in storage during the program, how long they’ve been taking up space in my mind and the feeling each thought created:
Thoughts Storage Feeling
That guy looks just like that partner I worked for; 30 years Annoyed
He was such a jerk
I can’t believe she treated me that way 5 years Anger
I’m worried about her judgment since she made 10 years Fear
that horrible choice in high school
He is stressing me out because he’s stressed out 1 week Overwhelm
I’ve been doing this for so long that I actually enjoy finding a long lost thought that no longer serves me. I can put it in the Manage Your Mind Model (for help with the model sign-up here for the free “5 Simple Steps to Reduce Overwhelm Today”) and see the results I will get if I keep that thought. Then I can choose a better feeling thought about the same circumstance and consciously create the results I want.
With a little awareness of the thoughts that are cluttering your life you can clear out old thoughts and beliefs that are no longer serving you and begin to choose thoughts that serve the vision you have for your life.
Step 1 – Organize your mind
Step 2 – Organize everything else
You will be amazed at how much cleaner and lighter you feel!
If you’d like to explore how to declutter and organize your mind, please feel free to schedule a free strategy session or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can get to work together.