We are all familiar with the physical clutter that seems to grow before our eyes, but how tuned in are you to your mental clutter? You know, that chatter that goes on in your head, the things you believe to be true about yourself and others, the unique lens through which we see and experience the world?
Yep, that stuff matters.
You may not be consciously aware of how your beliefs shape your worldview. Our automatic responses are so ingrained they happen before we realize we have a choice - a choice to feel how we feel about something. Think for a minute about a person or situation in your life that recently upset you.
What if instead of building your case for being hurt and angry, you try this instead:
Release judgment: So many times judgment and automatic responses jump in to defend our position and we react to what we believe happened:
Our interpretation of the facts.
Look at the facts. Stop short of assigning meaning to what happened. Does it change if you take a more neutral view?
Invite a different perspective: Have you ever been describing a stressful situation to a trusted friend who replies, “I don’t see it that way at all?”
How do you respond? Shut her down, tell her “thanks but no thanks” or do you try to see things differently?
Take on a different perspective. Sometimes a small shift in perspective can open up new possibilities while holding on tightly to our perspective can breakdown relationships and potential for growth.
Stop “shoulding” yourself: “Should” can be a motivator but more often seems to indicate there is a standard which is not being met. When coupled with “I”, we create resentment toward ourselves. What are the things you tell yourself you “should” do and how does that set you up for falling short? “I’m so bad, I should have exercised today but went out to lunch instead.” You feel guilty about how you chose to spend your day rather than enjoying it.
Clean out that junk! Who is that voice telling you what you should be doing? Take a minute to reflect: Do I actually want to be doing it or are there other influences at work?
Bottom Line: Be aware of your automatic responses and ask yourself: Is there a different way to look at this, to think about this and to respond to this?
Thoughts are not facts.
Lorree Riley is a Licensed Professional Counselor and owner of Envision Creative Counseling, PLLC. Working with emerging adults and those experiencing difficult life transitions, Lorree blends talk therapy and creative art therapy to facilitate insight, learning and growth.