Decluttering and spring cleaning is in full force right now – for good reason.
I've been tossing out and donating whatever is not serving any purpose in my house. That's been my big project this year because I understand that our physical environment has a huge impact on our mental health.
But while working through the physical baggage, I realized that this is a good model for my emotional baggage as well. I realized that wanting to be more of a minimalist is more than just more white space in my home or a style of fashion, but a lifestyle choice that I can take the same principles and use them in other ways.
Whether we're fully aware of it or not, we're holding onto a lot of emotional baggage, burdens, habits, and toxic thought patterns. Sometimes they’re ways we’ve learned to cope that we still cling to, but are actually doing us more harm than good. These beliefs and other self-talk are mentally weighing us down. It's almost like a cluttered closet except the clothes you never wear push your favorite outfits to the bottom where you can't find them.
The first, most important thing is to become mindful of the self-talk you're telling yourself. It's normally a low hum in the background of your daily life: “Who do you think you are?” “I'm not ___ enough.” “I hate my job.”
Being mindful doesn't necessarily mean you have to sit every morning in silence, but being more present in our day is what’s going to allow us to pay attention to these unhelpful thoughts.
Once you are aware, just like if you were decluttering, you need to evaluate whether it’s helpful and whether to keep it or get rid of it. You hold up an item and decide: “Does this bring me joy?” “Does this serve a useful purpose in my life?”If it's something (or a thought pattern) that you look at and it’s just causing you anxiety or is hurting you, then it’s not healthy.
Don’t try to repress them as that can only make it worse. It’s necessary to acknowledge that these thoughts are there, but also to recognize how these thoughts or habits aren’t serving us.
Once they're happening and you're in a negative self-talk spiral, you can stop that train of thought. You can't stop thoughts. Thoughts happen and we need to allow them to pass, like waves on the beach. Once you have awareness, you can watch them go by and realize, “This isn't healthy.”
The key is to replace them with a healthy thought “I don't hate myself. I am enough. I can accomplish this.” Minimalism is about subtracting the unnecessary or what is causing anxiety and not helpful.
While a simple concept, it can be hard to make a part of your busy life.
The key steps to revamping the unhealthy self-talk are Tune In, Evaluate, Acknowledge, and Rewrite. Just starting with tuning in and becoming more aware is enough until you can move onto the next step.
Letting go of the emotional burdens and baggage will allow you to make more room for the calming, empowering, and inspiring thoughts and habits that we’re truly capable of.Image credit: Fuu J
About the author
Crystal Sheffield-Baird owns Phoenix Health Coaching and lives in Kansas City with her husband and cat. She works with heart-centered professionals to prevent burnout by making their own care and goals a priority. When she’s not helping people get wellbeing clarity with her free toolkit, she argues with people on Facebook over which Star Trek series is best, obsessing over fountain pens, and finding inspirational videos on Youtube.