As we have entered the New Year, many of us may have new hopes or are simply wishing for a better year. Some of us may even have set up plans for this year.
But as we have these new aspirations, which are good, we ought to ask ourselves whether we are ready to get rid of the old ways? The words “most people like new things yet a few love to renew their own minds and lifestyles” struck me, and carries so much weight and truth. It left me pondering about my habits that I perhaps need to interrogate because real change can only take place when there is an exchange of something. To allow the inflow of new experiences or blessings the old needs to give way. Similar thinking is also supported by a biblical scripture that states “you can’t pour new wine into an old wineskin”. I never truly understood the relevance and significance of this scripture until now.
What then is mental clutter? It’s anything or everything that keeps us from thinking clearly, slows our progress and hampers our productivity and to a degree stifles the influx of good energy, good experiences, or opportunities in our lives. For the longest time, some of us may harbour grudges or resentment, take offence easily, engage in negative self-talk, dwell on feelings of guilt and shame, and live in fear that could lead to crippling and self-sabotaging behaviour such as procrastination, worry, and struggle to forgive.
When these habits become our second nature, instead of growth, we struggle with poor mental health, which could lead to mental illnesses and physiological illnesses such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
Important to note is that mental clutter has a tendency to manifest physically in our lives. Examples of how we can identify these are through our relationship with food, whether it’s overeating or indulging in unhealthy meals, living in cluttered or messy spaces, hoarding unnecessary or unwanted personal items such as clothing or books, keeping rubble in the backyard for longer than needed, and procrastinating on completing tasks whether it is personal or work-related such as filing.
However, change or getting rid of old habits has never been easy.
Neuroscience indicates that it takes about 63 days to alter a mental habit and that most people give up on day 4. But with good self-discipline, self-control, consistency, determination and perseverance change is possible. Also taking small steps towards change such as taming the to do list, cleaning up the actual litter, rethinking our thinking, invest in less screen time, eat, sleep and live well, accepting that we can’t please everyone and to stop doing that, to live in the present and to create a haven of peace for yourself are all necessary steps in fostering change.
When we start to clear out the old we automatically invite the new, which gives birth to new experiences, blissful life, a life of happiness, clarity with focus and abundance. There is a sense of relief, lightness and newness in our lives as new neuropathways are created in our brains, gradually altering the way we think, talk and perceive ourselves.
Wish you a pleasant and mental-clutter free 2021!