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Tidying Up the Mental Mess

by Katherine Bennett about a month ago in advice

Decluttering the mind to make space for a new season of change.

Photo by Pim Chu on Unsplash

Spring is the season of new beginnings and fresh starts. As the days get brighter and warmer, we start looking to lighten our load. Spring becomes the chance to hit the refresh button. We turn to our overwhelming closets and disorganized drawers to begin clearing out the heavy layers we no longer need.

We declutter our physical space, getting rid of the unimportant junk accumulating from the past. Our outlook starts to shift, and we see a vision of making room for a new wardrobe. Filled with bright colors and light fabrics, a more flattering fit for the warmer, sunnier skies.

But there is another pile of mess cluttering our lives. Slowly, accumulating in the dark corners of our minds. Taking up valuable space, keeping us from adding this new collection of change.

The mess of our mental closet

The mess of our mental closet comes from our underlying past experiences. Undealt with trauma, self-doubt, suffering, and fears.

Hidden emotions we easily toss aside. Ignoring their subtle burden, unaware of how they rob and consume all our energy. These unprocessed feelings keep us stuck in out-dated and tired beliefs. Even when we outgrow the pain and patterns that no longer fit us, there is the lingering attachment we can't seem to get rid of.

Like an old pair of skinny jeans that once made our butt look so good, we cling to the image of how we once felt. Hoping that if we fix ourselves, we will one day be able to squeeze back into our old story.

Just like we clear out our wardrobe, we have to tidy up the mental mess to move forward into a new season of change.

Decluttering our mental closet allows us to evaluate the contents of our thoughts, patterns, and experiences. It exposes our dirty laundry and lets us determine what has real value and meaning in our life.

While it's easy to recognize some of the patterns we wish to discard, others hold a sentimental value we hold on to, despite holding us back. The toxic thoughts, emotions, and habits may not be something we wear every day, but they slowly accumulate like a pile of worn-out clothes.

The build-up of unrealistic expectations, comparison, and destructive beliefs leads to underlying feelings of guilt, shame, and suffering. These wreak havoc on our momentum, make us limited by labels we don't wear well, and defined by a standard that ignores individuality.

Our lives change like seasons and the struggles of our experiences shape our evolving identity. The patterns, thoughts, and emotions grow us into ourselves. To flow into a new season of life we must adapt to the changes life brings and shed our old story.

Embrace the emotions we wear like last season's layers

Instead of stuffing down the trauma from the past, acknowledge our pain.

Refresh our system and explore the depths of our dark, inner-closet. Go inward to understand how these stories affect how we think, feel, and take action.

Reflect on why we hold on to these feelings and judgments.

What purpose did it serve?

What value did it hold?

What protection did it provide?

Our prior experiences hold the key to un-blocking our future. These stories don't determine our path but give insights and information to find a better way. Tune in to the pain to clear out the emotion. Leave the story behind and take with us the lessons and values.

Accept the experiences for what they taught us and embrace the messy parts of ourselves. These moments brought us strength and couraged us to keep going.

Make peace with our shortcomings to redesign a new life

"Happiness comes from being who you actually are instead of who you think you are supposed to be." - Shonda Rhimes

By understanding why we get stuck, we can rebuild new thoughts, patterns, and reactions. We can turn the chaos of clutter into a new collection of beliefs. And start to take an intentional and strategic course of action to create a life that better fits who we want to become.

I declutter my mental closet with the same approach as my fashion

When the overwhelm takes over, with piles of wrinkled shirts and sweaters flung instead of hung, I fall apart. I can't find anything in the mess I've created and get so frustrated trying to find a simple pair of socks. I have to start from zero.

I strip everything out of my closet. Every t-shirt, handbag, and block boot and blocked feeling. Until nothing remains but the empty skeleton frame with blank hangers and naked shelves.

With every piece of my life sprawled out across my floor, I create three piles to determine their value and place.

Keep is for the treasures and pieces that feel like second-skin. The ones that have meaning and purpose, and make me feel good.

Giveaways are the cringe-worthy mistakes I'd rather forget. The attempt at trying on a new look but it never looked right. Though these pieces don't fit me anymore, they can be passed down to someone who can benefit from their use.

Trash the torn and tattered outfits with no value but take up too much space. They may have been fun to wear at the time but now only take up valuable hanger space.

The same mentality can be applied when clearing out our mental mess. Keep the memories that make us feel good, give away the life lessons we've learned from our mistakes, and trash all the broken parts of our story that no longer resemble who we are in the world.

Tidying up our mental mess is the only way to get rid of clutter that no longer belongs.

Accept our old stories and embrace the meaningful lessons to move forward with a new story.

Rebuild our inner-beliefs to design a new lifestyle for ourselves.

Declutter the mess to make space for the new life.

advice
Katherine Bennett
Katherine Bennett
Read next: The Deception of Instagram
Katherine Bennett

Professional chef. Sharing stories, secrets, and recipes from behind the line of a professional kitchen.

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