No, I don’t mean spend an hour or so imagining a cleaning squad dressed in whites scrubbing everything in your house to lemony freshness, lol. Though that does sound seriously amazing to me right now…. No, I’m talking about cleaning up your mind – clearing the dusty rusty stuff that clogs up clean thinking.
Spring is a natural time for clearing out old dirt and clutter. We do this for our houses and even for our bodies, but how often do we do it for our minds? In the same way you might cleanse your body of physical toxins and waste, you can cleanse your mind of mental toxins like bitterness and unforgiveness. If left to fester, these poisons can eventually destroy their containers, like acids of the mind. To replenish our energy and regain our balance, we have to stop feeding off of mental “anti-nutrients” like perfectionism and the need to always be right.
Spring is the perfect time to de-clutter our mental space. Not only will this restore us psychologically, but it can help restore us physically as well. The body and mind are deeply interconnected, so in clearing out and detoxifying your mind, your body will benefit. These ten tips are cleansing for everyone, but they’re especially freeing for those of us stuck in chronic, unhealthy eating and self-care patterns. Some of them you can put into practice the second you decide to. Others involve more deeply embedded patterns that will take time and a sustained effort to clear, but you can start today. Or at least consider the fresh point of view.
Free your mind and free your life.
1. Mind Your Own Business. One of my favorite spiritual teachers, Byron Katie, says that before stressing out about something, you should always ask yourself whose business it is: yours, mine or God’s. If it’s not your business, why are you in it?
2. Let go of the need to be right. Is it truly more important to you to be right about something than to preserve your relationships with others? Have you ever loved anyone more because they were right and you were wrong? Decide if you’d rather be right or be close to people.
3. Stop blaming, shaming, and complaining. Every one of these toxic habits is about giving your core power to something outside of your control. Stop it. It can’t save you. It’s not the difficult person or situation that causes your distress. It’s the story you tell yourself about what it means that causes you pain. Take control of what you tell yourself about difficulties and challenges, and the circumstances of your life will no longer have the power to blow you around like a tumbleweed.
4. Stop trying to please and impress everybody. You won’t die if someone disapproves of something you say or do. Who are you? If you’re always trying to measure up to other people’s standards, you’ll never find out.
5. Clean up unfinished business. Pick an unpleasant task you’ve been putting off for a long time and just do it. Today. Marcus Aurelius said “What which stands in the way BECOMES the way.” You will feel 20 pounds lighter.
6. Forgive someone. Often we believe that forgiving someone will let them off the hook, so we hold on to our unforgiveness to punish them. But the truth is, when we forgive others, we free ourselves. Try it and see.
7. If you’re in the wrong, make it right. When we mess up, we can become so paralyzed by guilt or shame that we make excuses, lie about our part, or run away from our responsibilities. Because the essential pain of not owning our wrongs is in our own hearts, there’s no real escape that way. Here’s what we told our kids when they were growing up: When you do something wrong, tell the truth. Apologize. Make it right if you can. Owning up means it won’t own you.
8. Let go of perfectionism. This may be the single most toxic mental habit of them all. If you let it, perfectionism will seep its poison into everything you do and you will never be at peace. Nothing about life is perfect. If you believe you have to be, no matter how hard you try you won’t ever feel at home in this life.
9. Let go of self-limiting beliefs. Limiting beliefs about what we can or can’t do are like chalk lines we draw on the floor around ourselves. They don’t have a lot of substance, but we act like they’re brick walls we can’t cross. Just because you think you can’t change doesn’t make it true. Don’t believe everything you think.
10. Stop mismanaging your emotions. Stop stuffing unpleasant feelings down with too much food or exercise, or venting them out at other people. Try just feeling your feelings instead. Make a little space inside to feel your grief, or anger, or embarrassment without doing anything about it. Feelings are like the weather, natural and ever-changing. You’re built to feel them –they’re an organic part of the human experience. Feeling your feelings allows your body to “digest” or integrate them organically. You’ll be nourished by what you need, and effortlessly eliminate the rest as waste.
Read this piece as it appears in the Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2016/04/13/let-go-of-the-need-to-be-right-and-9-other-ways-to-give-your-brain-a-spring-cleaning/?utm_term=.f31ef95608d7