Think about what it would feel like to live without all the extra thoughts circling in your head, which you can't seem to get rid of, no matter how hard you try. You may notice a sense of peace and a deeper connection with yourself and others. Your mind feels light and free, and you have more room to focus on what's important in your life.
But if you're like most people, you probably have the opposite experience: Instead of having an empty trash can, your mind is crammed full of thoughts that take up space and clutter up your brain.
But don't worry! There are things you can do to help give yourself some relief from all these mental distractions so your mind can feel lighter and clearer again.
Imagine yourself with a clear mind.
Imagine yourself with a clear mind. Close your eyes and imagine that you're sitting on a comfortable chair in the middle of an empty room, completely relaxed. You can breathe in deeply, filling up your lungs with fresh air.
Now imagine a trash can right next to where you're sitting. In it are all the thoughts, worries, fears, and other things that have been weighing down on your mind lately:
• Bills to pay.
• Problems at work/home/school (or any other area).
• Bad habits that keep rearing their ugly heads again and again.
Whatever it is that comes to mind when we think about stressors — those things that cause us anxiety or frustration — they're all swirling around inside this trash can now!
Think about what it would feel like to live without all the extra thoughts circling in your head, which you can't seem to get rid of, no matter how hard you try.
I know what it's like to have a mind that's a trash can. Or, more accurately, a collection of trash cans.
Trash cans filled with thoughts and ideas (most of them useless) that fly around in your head, pop up unexpectedly at any time, and distract you from what you're doing. Sometimes you'll pick one up and hold onto it for no good reason. And sometimes, these thoughts will cause you stress or anxiety or self-doubt—and other times, they're just boring distractions from real life as it happens around us.
If this sounds familiar, I want to tell you about something I've learned: It doesn't have to be this way! You can take control of your mind by clearing out the clutter--and here's how:
How to clear out the clutter
1. Start by writing down all the things that are troubling you. You should keep a journal or make a list on paper. You could even use an app like Evernote if you're tech-savvy!
Once you've got everything written down, take some time to think about each one.
What is it?
What's causing it?
Why does it matter so much?
Once you've got a handle on what each thing is and why it matters, decide whether or not it's worth spending time thinking about. If it isn't, then get rid of it! Throw it away!
2. Now that you're free of this clutter, start focusing on what's essential in your life.
Write down a list of the things that are important to you. For example, it could be your family, faith, or job.
Take some time to think about each and why it matters so much.
Why is this thing necessary?
What does it do for you?
Once you've got a handle on what each thing is and why it matters, decide whether or not it's worth spending time thinking about. If it isn't, then get rid of it! Throw it away or recycle it--whatever works best for you.
You may notice a sense of peace and a deeper connection with yourself and others.
You’ll be surprised by how much a little reflection can do for your state of mind. You might notice a sense of peace and maybe even a deeper connection with yourself and others. Remember: it doesn’t have to take long—just five minutes is enough for you to start on the road to clarity.
Your mind feels light and free, and you have more room to focus on what's important in your life.
Since our minds filter all the information coming at us, some of it can get stuck. When that happens, it's like trying to drink through a straw with holes in it: there's no way for you to get enough air or water through the straw because there are too many gaps in the flow.
The same thing happens when we experience stress or negative emotions—they affect our ability to think clearly and make good decisions about how we want our lives to be.
At first, blush, letting go of thoughts that don't serve us may seem difficult or even impossible—but as with most things worth having, getting rid of these negative patterns requires only effort over time (and some meditation).
The first step is to recognize your thoughts as just that: thoughts. They aren't real, and they certainly aren't facts. By labeling them as such, you can see them for what they are—just words or images running through your head.
Next, try replacing those negative thoughts with something more helpful (like the thought, "I don't have time for this right now"). If you find yourself dwelling on a negative thought, try writing it down or talking about it with someone else.
The next step is to realize that you can't control everything. For example, you might have a bad day at work or an argument with a friend and start thinking negatively, like "I'm terrible at my job" or "Nobody likes me." In these situations, try asking yourself what evidence supports those thoughts. If there's none (or very little), then chances are they're not true.
You can also try meditation to get rid of negative thoughts. The idea is that by clearing up your thoughts and being in the moment, you won't have time for negativity!
How things are going now is not how things need to be for the rest of your life.
You have to make a change. You have to take action. You can’t just sit there and let things happen or wait for things to improve if you don’t want them to improve on their own accord because they won't! This may seem like semantics—and it is—but it's important that you understand that making a change means actively doing something different than what you've been doing before: giving up old habits, adopting new ones; saying no when someone asks you out on Friday night instead of always saying yes; spending less time watching Netflix and more time reading books (or whatever else sparks joy).
There are things you can do that will help clear up your mind, such as meditation and journaling. You could go for a walk outside or try cleaning out your house (which is always good). You could also do any exercise. These activities will give your brain something else to focus on besides whatever negative thoughts have been haunting it lately. And best of all? They'll make life much more enjoyable for everyone involved!
The funny thing about the mind is that it has its way of working and doesn't always follow our plans. It might take time to clear up our minds, but if we keep at it, we will see results. The mind is like a muscle; it must be worked out daily. So if you're having trouble clearing up your mind, try some of these tips and see how they work.