Most people have a lot on their mind, even more-so when there’s a crisis in their life. All that chaos builds up and becomes a big pile of trash that’s hard to see over. Luckily, there’s an easy exercise to clear out the garbage and give yourself some direction.
Much the clutter in our brains comes from the stories we tell ourselves, which aren’t always true. Self-doubt, arrogance, and other emotions creep into our thoughts and tint them so that they don’t match reality.
We convince ourselves that a certain person doesn’t like us, or that we aren’t skilled enough to start a business, or sometimes, that we’re smarter than we really are. All this leads to inner conflict that gets in the way of the decisions we need or want to make.
When I work with a life coaching client who is trying to sort through all the chaos in their head, I have them perform a simple exercise that almost always brings clarity.
I tell them to write down the first thoughts that come to their mind about the particular problem – no filter, no pausing to rationalize, just pure, immediate thoughts.
There’s something about putting thoughts to paper that helps us see reality better. Often, when I have a client start writing down the things they think are getting in their way they look down at what they’ve written and say “Well, this one doesn’t even make sense. It’s silly.” They can throw it away instead of holding on to it.
That thought that was so serious and such a barrier when it was floating around in their mind suddenly becomes small and silly when they put it down on paper. Almost instantly, the path forward is clearer and less jumbled with head trash.
It’s important to remember that you are not a reliable witness to your own life. There’s an old saying that goes “There are three sides to every story: yours, mine, and what really happened.” This is just as true with your inner dialog – there’s the story you remember, and then there’s the reality of what really happened.
The next time you’re struggling with a decision or just trying to sort your thoughts, get the garbage out of your head and onto paper. Reality will shine through and you’ll be able to better separate truth from fiction.