Declutter your emotions in 3 steps


How much old emotional clutter are you still carrying around with you?

You know them – those intrusive, destructive thoughts and beliefs that keep you from experiencing true well-being. They sabotage your best efforts to make the meaningful changes you seek and suck your energy dry.

Here’s the good news:  you have a lot more control than you think. Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to reorganize, heal and grow by forming new neural connections throughout life. This can occur in response to disease or injury, but new neural patterns can also form by the way we think and respond to stimulus. If we are constantly negative or anxious, we deeply embed those thoughts and feeling in our neural pathways.  By changing our thought patterns, we influence the development of new neural pathways that produce the response we DO want.

Which mindset do you want to master?

When you reorganize your house, you naturally declutter your closets and drawers – all the places where we store the detritus of our lives. When you reorganize your thoughts, you declutter your mind of the beliefs, emotions and patterned responses that no longer serve you. So, let’s get to it!

Focus on gratitude

The world can be a hard place. Just look at the news or your social media feed, and it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the frustrations and injustice we see all around us. But there are also blessings of every kind within reach. The people who focus on being grateful for their life, in all of its beauty and brokenness, are happier, healthier and less anxious. Their gratitude generates positive energy that in turn, brings more goodness into their life, as well as the mental and emotional resilience to deal with challenges.

Find at least three things each day to be grateful for, even if it seems trivial. If you can find more, all the better! Keeping a gratitude journal can help you cultivate awareness, as well as give you something tangible to look back at during difficult times. You may also prefer to spend time each evening before bed reviewing your day to name those moments of gratitude. Over the course of a few months or a year, you may be surprised at how many things you place on your list!

Say affirmations daily

On average, we think about 40,000 – 60,000 thoughts per day, and about 80% of them are negative. Our brains are actually hardwired for what scientists call the “negativity bias”, a holdover from when our ancestors needed to be on high alert in order to survive.  This negativity bias may help when we’re in danger, but on a daily basis it creates a lot of counterproductive emotional clutter.

This is where neuroplasticity comes into play. Reciting affirmations (or mantras or prayers) daily retrains the mind to think and reorganize your mental junk drawer. It is truly powerful medicine, because our bodies respond to how we think. You can make yourself sick with stress and worry, and you can also initiate healing by doing the opposite. By working with affirmations, we deliberately and thoughtfully take responsibility for our life by aligning our thoughts with our goals and energy.

Affirmations are short, impactful statements that reflect the intention or goals we wish to manifest. First, identify your limiting self-talk and beliefs. Select two or three of the ones you want to begin working with and create affirmations out of those beliefs. Affirmations should be in the present tense, positive in tone (avoid using words like “try”, “not” or “never”) and easy to memorize and recite daily. It takes approximately 21 days to create a new habit, so you may need to write down your affirmations and post them in places where you see them regularly as a reminder to recite them until they become second nature. Sample affirmations include:

“Today, I experience more happiness and well-being”

“Each day, I am attracting more love/friendships into my life”

“I am worthy of love, care and respect.”

“I enjoy and feel satisfied eating healthy, nourishing food.”

“I pay my bills and save money with ease.”

Focus on the present moment

Most of our negative self-chatter is focused on things that have happened in the past, or may happen in the future. The real gift of being alive is learning to be present to what is happening right now. Instead, we run from it by returning to the cluttered attic of our minds, where we sift endlessly through the ifs, shoulds and what could have beens. How often are you aware of the sky, of birds singing, or even of your breath moving in and out of your body?

One of the ways we declutter our thoughts is by returning to the present moment. The practice of meditation can make it easier for us to cultivate mental and emotional spaciousness. Meditation doesn’t need to be formal or take a long time. A few minutes will do until you become more comfortable with the process.

Any time you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed throughout the day, simply stop what you are doing, close your eyes and focus on your breath. Is it fast, tight and shallow? Take a deep breath in slowly, and slowly release. Repeat. Focus on how the air feels opening up your ribcage, how your shoulders are starting to drop. Continue breathing in and out slowly. Then, begin paying attention to how the air feels around your body, or the sounds you hear. If your mind starts wandering back to your laundry list, gently focus again on your breath, your body and what you hear around you. Continue for another minute or two and then slowly open your eyes.

Work daily with these three practices, as they are truly feng shui for the soul. Over time, your mind start unloading its mental clutter in order to seek out and savor the moments and experiences that fill you with more joy, light and spaciousness. You will find yourself gravitating toward habits, relationships and opportunities that nourish and serve you, rather than weigh you down or drain you.

Your mind is the temple for your soul – how will you start cultivating this sacred space today?

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