The organised mind evokes images of your brain in tidy sections, but how do we achieve this?
But we aren’t robots. And however organised you try to keep your mind, emotions will fly through and disrupt your good work, unpleasant experiences seeping into the calm. Life will happen, in all its confusion and chaos.
And your brilliant mind will on occasions simply refuse to be quietened and flattened into piles of carefully chosen thoughts.
So what do people really mean when they say they desire an organised mind? Some semblance of control over their lives? Peace amid the celebral noise? Much of this racket derives from our fear of letting life happen as it will.
So, if you really want an organised mind’ the way to get there may seem counter intuitive.
I see many self-help books offering up the same old advice, but many miss the basics. No amount of ‘tips and tricks’ offered by life coaches can help your mind to become organised, if you’re living from a place of fear.
Clinging to lists, journals and affirmations, whilst trying to meditate are positive ways to de-clutter your mind but won’t work long-term unless you’re able to accept life for what it is.
Because what will happen, is one day, just as you feel you are ‘organised’ up top, something will hit you like a bolt from the blue, a criticism, a change of plan, a crisis, a breakup, an illness – and it might come crashing down around you.
Self-acceptance, self-compassion, accepting your (and other people’s) flaws, listening to yourself, self-care, building confidence – we build self-esteem by doing estimable things – working on and committing to doing something every day that helps you to grow, however small. These are tools to build the strong and flexible foundations needed to truly live from a place of mental and physical calm.
Keeping your mind clean and organised means letting go of self-criticism, shame, blame, and fear. Is any of that easy, nope! Is it doable? Definitely!
Counselling can help. Letting out what is holding you back, talking about the things that make you scared, unhappy – taking out memories, dusting them off, learning to look at life anew – therapy is truly like a spring clean for the brain!
Try to understand more about what is going on for you underneath all the daily routines and pressures of life, what makes you tick, what patterns of thinking do you fall into? Cultivating this level of self-awareness means that when thoughts do pass through the bedroom of your brain, they don’t need to lie on the floor creating mess, ready to trip you up. They can pass gently, through the leaves of your mind, and float away.
When you feel ready to accept yourself, and your life as it is, when you know you can handle what life throws at you, you will be able to let go of some of the need for control, that comes with anxiety about life, that comes with worrying and planning and the desire so many people must ‘start again’.
Tomorrow, it’ll be different. Tomorrow I’ll start the diet, tomorrow I’ll be better, think better, be better, do better. In reality, now is the time to accept yourself in all of your flawed, messy loveliness. Teenagers never tidy their rooms tomorrow, ‘tomorrow never comes’ – and neither will your mind become a palace of high functioning, sparkling motivation, just because you marked out tomorrow as your fresh start on your calendar.
Because that’s what it is, a bumpy but enjoyable journey. When you begin to let go of the need for control the need to change yourself, and instead lovingly accept yourself as you are in the moment – you can now take the practical, routine steps, yep, now you can dust off the shouty self-help book, get out your journal, light a fancy candle and sit down to meditate. Then, you can face your to do list without distraction, and eat that frog with pleasure (one for the self – help fans out there) because you aren’t doing it all on a bed of uncertainty, fidgetiness, and self-doubt.
The things we can control in life are few. Your inner state is one of them. Your physical surroundings to a certain extent, are another. In your quest for a tidy mind, remember external clutter can be a contributing factor to anxiety. At the very least it can make it worse.
So attempt to get your environment clean and tidy. Keep your desk uncluttered, your spaces clean and clear.
We’re living in an age of information overload. It can be hard to think straight and focus. The key to clear thinking is to simplify.
Last week, I wrote about overthinking not being a sign of intelligence. This week I’m making it clear that a complicated life is not a sign of an interesting or meaningful life.
A smaller circle of genuine friends, a regular sleep routine, a passion and purpose, not a million different commitments, all help. Clear boundaries, saying no when you need to, avoiding any drama. All this contributes to a healthy and balanced mind. So, cut down, prioritise – and stop spreading yourself too thin.
Mental health isn’t about waiting until there is a problem, until your brain is like a house on one of those hoarders’ programmes.
There are steps you can take right now, that you can take today, that will prevent you experiencing more serious issues down the line.
Breathe deeply, practice gratitude, learn to love yourself as you are and roll with life as it is – then you can start the mental folding and tidying.
Would you like to read more about having an organised mind? We enjoyed this book.