Mental clutter from the past
Sorting out your apartment and getting rid of everything you don’t need is a prerequisite for general order in your life. Now it’s time to reach for the shovel and head to the runway; it needs to be cleared of mountains of – primarily mental – debris. And it needs to be cleared by hand. This is no quick or easy task.
You can stay in the garage your whole life in peace and quiet, but taking flight will always be tumultuous.
The first thing you need to do is secure yourself a place for take-off: clear the runway where the airplane will move, slowly at first, then faster and faster, until the point where it stops, turns into the final stretch, and hurtles at maximum speed to take off from land. Towards new horizons.
Previously I wrote about general organisation of space and information; now it’s time to turn our attention towards our own minds, which have accumulated no less crap than our desk drawers, especially if you don’t clean out your mind with the same regularity as you clean your apartment, about once a week.
Mental clutter from the past
The older we get, the harder it becomes to make the decision to change. You might think this is nothing to worry about because we just keep getting smarter and wiser until eventually we can accomplish everything we want.
But practice shows that up until the age of 25 people display a considerably higher level of healthy unconcern, which is the ideal antidote to anxiety. With age, niggling doubts begin to silently consume any reasonable attempts to feel comfortable in our own skin.
In fact, many intelligent adults are brimming with exciting ideas but find themselves unable of making them a reality, hiding behind excuses they believe themselves, while other people take their ideas and implement them.
Past experiences, especially ones to which we have attached significance, settle in our minds in the form of conclusions and convictions about various issues. Some (possibly most) of these conclusions were reached unconsciously, out of our control. These are the conclusions that shape your life today.
This means that, until we can learn to consciously control the process, we are cut from the same cloth as our past selves.
Thoughts such as:
- I am attractive or unattractive.
- I am intelligent or stupid.
- Girls like me, or they just lead me on.
- It’s easy to get work.
- There is no work.
- You can’t make money online.
- The internet is full of charlatans.
- You can’t trust anyone.
tend to be conclusions based on past experiences (or based on your environment). Most, and sometimes all, of these conclusions, are not chosen.
Life is a choice. But no one makes it.
When was the last time you stripped down your beliefs and made adjustments?
Consciously decided to change your angle from now on?
I like to believe that people are becoming increasingly aware of the futility of dividing experiences into “good” and “bad”. I am not proposing that you change something because it is “bad” or could be “better”.
Mental clutter is the attitudes and beliefs that hinder us. That don’t allow us to be happy here and now. That stop us from moving forward. That lead to the same situations arising again and again throughout our lives.
This is an essential aspect of the process of creating ourselves anew. It is impossible to do a 180 while constantly reinforcing all of our past assumptions.
In other words:
If you believe what you believed yesterday, you will get what you got yesterday.
Mystics throughout the ages have had much to say on this topic, and have advocated waking up each morning with a clean slate, forgetting everything that came before. They would say that a new day means a new life means new convictions.
But don’t worry, this is not what I am suggesting. We are about as far from their level of awareness and detachment as we are from the moon, and maybe that’s for the best.
Clear away the debris
- Dig it all out
Your task is to dig out your own mental clutter and get rid of it. First of all just dig it out.
– So how do I know if I have mental clutter?
– It’s very simple. Just ask yourself one question: are you living 100% the life that you want to live? Do you have passion for life?
The time has come to look at the answers to the question: What has led me to where I am today?
You need to objectively examine every conviction that lies behind your current situation – your concepts of yourself, your relationships, work and profession – with a magnifying glass and purposefully ask, preferably out loud:
– Is this just bullshit?
Literally every conviction you hold in each of the 4 key spheres of life (work, body, mind, relationships) needs to be called into question and carefully examined from every angle.
Some are obviously delusional:
- All men cheat.
- There are no decent men left.
- Girls are only after money.
- There is no honest way to make money.
- There are no opportunities in the country I live in.
- I can’t change my life.
And so on and so forth – I won’t presume to know what you dig up. There are oh so many possibilities. But one thing I should say: the paradox is that your strongest convictions (the issues you are stuck on) usually turn out to be the most significant springboards for transformation.
- Get rid of it
Mental clutter can be got rid of in one of two ways:
- (advanced) Restart. When you realise deep down that these convictions are just bullshit dragging you down, you decide you don’t want them and are not prepared to think in these ways anymore. And so you stop thinking in these ways. Now and forever.
- (recommended) Replace an old setting with a new one, something constructive, reinforcing it with examples from your own life and others’ experiences. It absolutely needs to be fixed and reinforced with real life experiences. But present day experiences. Find somebody directly, even if it’s only on the internet, who is living a life that contradicts your old beliefs. As for yourself, look inside to find the things you love, and hold on to them as you move through your transformations.
You need to explain and prove to your unconscious that life is actually a lot larger than you think, and that positive examples are plentiful.
This is not a simple task, I know. Adjusting your world views, and changing your own (!) points of view about yourself and your surroundings is one of the most difficult things to do. I won’t say too much more, so as to let you go through your own excavation process.
There is no need to seek out the mental clutter straight off; at first just take a close look at your key convictions about yourself and your life. Turn them inside out, inquire as to where they came from and which situations and people have formed them. When it comes to relationships we are often greatly influenced by our past partners’ opinions of us. Ask yourself: do these ideas still serve you? Many old things were once relevant, but are now completely inappropriate.
It’s tempting to want to skip these steps – “less talk, more action!” But this is part of the action, and without these steps, future questions like “how can I discover my life goals?” will be ineffective.
Constructing your life all over again from the pits of the past is a fantasy. The best you can hope for is to succeed in changing the scenery. If you are tired of playing around and want real change, it is important to know how to find your convictions, examine them critically, change them as necessary and pursue new ones that you have actively chosen.
We are still getting to know ourselves. Now is the time to shake up your inner filing system for new energy and fresh motivation.
My advice is that you only hold on to the very highest opinions of yourself and your abilities. If not you, then who? Enough with the compromises already. Let go of your doubts, fears, insecurities and other clutter. Awareness of your life and your ability to create it begin with the understanding that we all deserve a lot more credit than we usually give ourselves.