Some of my fellow bloggers have been writing lately on the subject of de-cluttering. De-cluttering cupboards, de-cluttering rooms, workplaces etc. And that got me thinking about another key area that really benefits from being free from clutter. The clutter in our heads. What are we tucking away in corners and lugging around with us that we don’t need anymore?
We change our cars, we refresh our wardrobes, we upgrade our PCs, but we drag our beliefs around with us as if they are set in stone. They’re not. We can change them, we can update or recycle them, or we can realise that they are of no use to us anymore and throw them out.
Our beliefs influence everything we do. They colour our sense of self, our confidence, our expectations, our relationships with others.
Beliefs set our limits “oh I could never...”, I’m just not good at...”, “I don’t do...”, “I’ve always...”
Some beliefs make a small dent in our personal universe, and others leave a crater, a gaping hole that we might try and fill and yet we never feel full. Read on for some tips on de-cluttering your outdated thoughts...
Step 1: Take a Step Back
Beliefs; we live by their rules, but we never really look at them. They run in the background, dictating how we act and feel. And we let them. Unconsciously doing their bidding as we go about our lives.
The first step in squaring up with your beliefs is to take a step back and look at them from a distance. Until you get clear on what you believe you can’t get to the relief that comes with making changes.
So, what do you believe? Get a pen and paper and write down your core beliefs, the rules you live by. Don’t worry if you can’t think of anything to write immeadiately. Your personal beliefs can be so much a part of your thinking that they are not that easy to pick out.
Be on the lookout for your beliefs and add them to your list:
- When you express your opinions to others
- When you go to tackle a task. Why are you doing it? How do you rate your ability to do it?
- When others express their opinions to you, ask yourself if you agree or not.
- When you read, or watch the news etc how does what is being reported line up with your personal beliefs?
Soon you will begin noticing your feelings on things more clearly. And that’s good. From that growing awareness you get the chance to make changes.
You might like to keep your paper with you for a day or two as more come to mind.
What’s the point of this? It helps you identify outdated or rigid patterns of thinking. Sometimes your beliefs may leave you closed to new possibilities in learning, in healing, or in earning.
De-cluttering unhelpful beliefs leaves room for new thoughts to take root and grow, thoughts which can serve you better.
And so, on to step 2…
Step 2: Ask Yourself Why?
Why do you believe the things that you do. Are your beliefs truly even yours to begin with, or are they your teachers? Your parents? Your doctors? Or Aunt Mauds?
Often our beliefs are adopted from others, sometimes they are something someone older than you told you when your were young. But now you’re older, and wiser, it’s time to ask yourself why you believe what you do.
Here’s how to do it. Pick a belief that you wrote on your list, read it aloud to yourself as a statement, for example: “I believe that...” and sit with that belief for a minute or two. And as you do, ask yourself “Why do I believe that?” Where does it come from. Is it really yours? Is it useful? Is it still relevant in your life?
If it’s a positive belief that feels good to you and serves you well, then you have just made a conscious reconnection with it.
But what if it is a limiting belief, or a negative one. One which keeps you small, or holds you back. Some beliefs can be the emotional equivalent of Japanese foot binding. They can hold you back severely in key areas of your life.
Step 3: Target practice
Scan through your list and pick a belief that you feel holds you back from doing something or feeling something that’s important to you. Perhaps there’s one that stands out from the crowd as outdated? That would be a good place to start.
First, check in with yourself that you feel OK with letting it go now. And then go through the following in your imagination in detail.
- What does the belief look like? Imagine it written on paper. For example it could be typed like a legal notice, scribbled on a note, written on an old scroll. How does it appear to you?
- Now decide how you will dispose of it? Will you simply throw it away? Burn it? Or recycle it?
All de-cluttering is a decision. When you go about your house and notice something that needs throwing out you make a decision to get rid of it. It’s a definite choice; you know it’s time for it to go and you know how you want to dispose of it. You can do the same with many of your beliefs too.
- Once you’ve made your decision, go through the motions and take action in your imagination. Literally see yourself picking it up and disposing of it in the way that feels right to you.
You don’t have to feel disorganised just because you run your house differently to your mother. You don’t have to shy away from art because your art teacher said you can’t draw. That was her opinion, it doesn’t have to stay as your belief. Pick it up and throw it out.
- Now take a few deep breaths and enjoy reflecting on freeing up some head space.
And finally, you get to choose what you will believe instead. Choose with care, write it down, and if you wish to guard this tender new positive belief, you might like to keep it to yourself and water it now and then until it grows strong.
Where Big Beliefs Hang Out
My years spent demonstrating Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT for short) at public health shows bought me in contact with hundreds of people and their unwanted beliefs.
Some of them were deeply rooted and had a huge impact on their bearers lives. Please seek professional assistance if you want to be free from heavy beliefs that are related to self-worth and might be a little complex to change.
How do you know if you might need help with shifting a significant belief? If you feel emotional discomfort or uncertainty about letting it go, you may want to get some assistance. The EFT Masters Practitioners List is a good place to look for help.
However, for much of our mental clutter it really is as simple as checking through a cupboard and making a conscious decision that that belief is no longer required. And for those beliefs you can enjoy playing with the steps above and lightening your mental load.
Please leave a comment if you have something to share or add.