…along with your closet.
While I wholeheartedly agree with the KonMarie method of cleaning out our living spaces, keeping only the items that truly “spark joy” for us, I absolutely believe that we should do the same with our thoughts.
So many of us have those old recordings in our heads that we repeat to ourselves about how “not-enough-something” we are. Not pretty enough, not smart enough, not thin enough, not talented enough, not worthy enough, etc. We may have heard from from people we cared about and who claimed to care about us. Now they have most likely become our own voices telling us these things that did not come from us originally, but have now become the soundtrack by which we live our lives.
I can’t imagine that these negative thoughts we have spark joy in our souls. Instead, they bring us down on a daily basis and prevent us from living the happiest, most fulfilling, most exciting lives we can, (and that P.S. we are entitled to). We need to get rid of these things in our mind that no longer serve us spiritually, the same way we consciously remove that old scratchy sweater or those painful, ill-fitting shoes from our closet.
I’m also a fan of de-cluttering expert Peter Walsh, who often asks his clients not only if something should remain in their lives for now, but if an item they are considering discarding is something that they see serving them well in the future life they see for themselves. I think that this is another great suggestion for how to look at both things and thoughts that may be weighing us down emotionally. It causes us to pause and take a moment to consider where we want to be in the coming days, weeks, months, and years. Do we still want to be feeling the way we’re feeling now and/or do we still want to be slaves to those thoughts that keep us from achieving our true potential and achieving the things in life that fill us up with happiness?
So how do we do this? How do we silence those endless tape loops that incessantly tell us what’s wrong with us and how we don’t deserve to have our dreams come true? Well, like with Marie Kondo, we have to consciously, deliberately, and sometimes forcefully, let them go. But I realize that it’s much more difficult to get rid of intangible things like thoughts than concrete things like clothes and old tangled up earphone cords.
One way we can consciously get rid of the thoughts that no longer serve us is to talk back to them. Yes, out loud when necessary. For example, if you are in a dressing room trying on a bathing suit, and you start hearing voices telling you how fat, ugly, and unworthy you are, and how when you look like this you have no right to go anywhere near a pool or a beach, I would suggest closing your eyes, taking a deep breath, and then saying, as forcefully as possible: “SHUT UP!” Then feel free to continue with the following:
“SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP!! YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT’S RIGHT FOR ME, YOU DON’T WANT WHAT’S BEST FOR ME, YOU HAVE NO SAY IN MY LIFE WHATSOEVER SO GO AWAY AND LEAVE ME ALONE!”
Of course, if you are in a crowded store where people might be able to hear this loud and very necessary tirade against the voices in your head then you can feel free to whisper instead, but don’t just say it silently in your head, these words need to be vocalized in some way so that they can even have a chance to drown out the other ones.
Repeat this exercise whenever necessary, and for some of us, this could be several (hundred) times a day. It’s so important that we take control of these thoughts, then wrestle them to the ground and then kick them out of our minds as hard as possible with the steel-toed boots of our newly strong and committed-to-a-new-way-of-thinking attitude. We can also say things like, “Ok, you’ve had your say, enough now, go away.” Or, “Listen, you may have served me in the past, but I’m no longer interested in what you have to say, you bring me nothing but misery now and I am consciously choosing happiness in my life so please feel free to let the door hit you on your way out.” Or whatever snarky comments you prefer about acknowledging the voice and then making the choice to immediately send it packing.
The point is, we have to take the time to stop what we’re doing, take a deep breath, and to purposefully and intentionally address the thoughts as they come, or else they will just continue to play as they always have.
Another way to combat the voices in our heads is to replace them with our own. Imagine yourself back in that dressing room, hearing all of the negative and shameful thoughts that do not spark joy in your life. If you don’t want to tell them to shut up, then instead you can answer them back as if you were contradicting someone’s argument on a debate team. If the voice tells you that your thighs are too bid you can respond, “Too big for what? These thighs have kept me walking and running and bending and jumping and standing up straight for this many (insert your age) years now. They are strong and healthy and pain-free and help me get out of bed in the morning to live my best life possible. How exactly are they flawed and wrong?” Or if the voice is telling you that the image in the mirror is ugly and worthless and undeserving of not only this bathing suit but of any joy associated with it like a vacation or a happy day spent outside, you can tell it in no uncertain terms something like, “This is the body that I was born with and it is beautiful, no matter what anyone else says. No matter what the airbrushed and photoshopped pictures in magazines and catalogs look like. It has a strong heart, healthy lungs, two working arms, two working legs, ten fingers and ten toes that my parents were overjoyed to count when I was born. It also has a generous soul, a glorious sense of humor, an intelligent mind, and an abundant zeal for life. No matter what the tag inside this bathing suit reads, I am a gorgeous and worthy person simply because I am on this Earth. And I deserve to be happy and feel beautiful for every second I am lucky enough to walk around on it.”
You can tell yourself similar things when you are feeling under confident about a job situation, about a conversation with a “well-meaning” relative, or in any instance where you hear the voices telling you that you are “less than" optimal in your current situation. It’s vitally important when you are getting rid of the things that do not spark joy in your life, mentally or physically, that you replace them with ones that DO.
“ The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.” — Marie Kondo.
“ But when we really delve into the reasons for why we can't let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future.” — Marie Kondo.
Only keep the things and the thoughts around you that serve you now, and that serve where you see yourself going. You CAN spark your own joy and for true happiness, you need to. Those voices in your head don’t have to have control over you. Make the choice to let them go once and for all, into the trash pile, then gone forever.