5 THINGS TO LET GO OF TODAY TO SIMPLIFY YOUR LIFE
We talk a lot about decluttering our homes and our physical stuff to help simplify our busy lives. In this post, I’m suggesting some other, less obvious, forms of clutter that get in the way of our search for simplicity. Here are 5 things to let go of today to simplify your life.
CLEARING UNSEEN CLUTTER
So much of what we do in life is shaped by our mindset. How we think about things largely determines how we feel about them. In my own life, I know that how I feel about things in turn impacts on whether I do them (and how well I do them) or whether I fail before I’ve even really got started.
For example, I’ve never been to a gym. I wouldn’t know how to use any of the equipment and I’m worried that people will laugh at me. I know this is an unhelpful attitude, I’m sure people wouldn’t really laugh (and if they did, that says more about them than me) but it’s stopped me from venturing into a gym so far. I’m working on it though!
My thoughts are based on fear and insecurity. They clutter my mind in an unhelpful way, holding me back from doing something that really would be good for me. Can you think of an example from your own life?
This post is about 5 things to let go of today to simplify your life and they’re mostly to do with your mindset, thoughts and emotions.
I’m not an expert so I’m drawing on my own experiences here. However, I hope they help you to look at things differently – to appreciate yourself a little more, allow you more freedom to try things, give you the courage to embrace new experiences and see challenges as opportunities.
Be aware of how you’re thinking and why. Here are some tips and exercises to help clear your mind of negative clutter and make space for enjoying a simpler, freer life. Here are 5 things to let go of today to simplify your life…
5 THINGS TO LET GO OF TODAY TO SIMPLIFY YOUR LIFE
Comparing yourself to others or being envious of others can be such a destructive mindset. Maybe you wish you looked more like somebody else, you were thinner, taller, more popular, you had more money, more holidays, a better car, a better wardrobe.
Comparison is the thief of joy but also the precursor to discontent and unhealthy striving for the wrong things.
To give you an example from my own life, I sometimes used to worry about how successful my blog would be. I focused on numbers of followers and monthly website traffic and stopped focusing on why I loved writing and how I wanted to help people. I wrote for Google and SEO (search engine optimisation so that my posts ranked when people searched for them) and stopped writing for my readers, the human beings who I truly wanted to write for.
Comparison and envy stifle your spirit and the things that make you, you. Try to leave comparison behind and focus on your own wonderful uniqueness.
Exercise: Choose 5 things that you’re proud of yourself for or you like, even love, about yourself. Write them on a post-it note on the fridge, a note on your bedside table or save it to your phone. Somewhere you’ll see it often.
By this I mean a pre-occupation with trying to control aspects of life which just aren’t controllable. Life has its own ups and downs and although some things can be foreseen and planned for, there’s plenty in life that can’t.
People are just one example. We can only control our own thoughts, decisions and actions. Other people have different motivations, end goals and priorities and trying to control them is probably impossible and wrong.
Micro-managing not just people, but situations (for example, eating habits, wanting the home to be spotlessly clean) is also exhausting and debilitating.
I’m a bit of a control-freak myself but it’s something I’m aware of and work on a lot! I’m definitely happier nowadays when I go with the flow and stress less about the things I can’t control.
Exercise: You might like to read ‘Emotional Agility’ by Susan David. It’s such an interesting read about the importance of emotional flexibility and that the happiest people have found ways to ‘unhook themselves from unhelpful patterns of thought and behaviour’ and just adapt to new situations.
Fear takes many shapes. Fear of change, fear of the unknown, fear of the future, fear of getting it wrong, fear of failing, fear of what people will think, fear of saying no, fear of missing out.
Fear is an emotion that arises through perceived danger or threat.
Fear comes in useful when it encourages you to think twice about doing something really dangerous, but fear that holds you back from being you and living your happiest, fullest life, isn’t so useful.
Think if there’s anything you’re fearful of. What is the worst that could happen and take simple steps to reduce that fear and do what you feel is right for you (as long as it’s safe of course!).
Journal prompt: What is one thing you’re fearful of? Is this fear keeping you safe or is it holding you back in life? If it’s holding you back, what is it holding you back from and what steps can you take to overcome it?
I’m a procrastinator because I’m a perfectionist. If it’s not 100% fantastic then it’s not worth doing. This was the mindset that held me back for so long on making some really important decisions. Which university to go to, which job to go for, which dress to wear at my wedding, what names to give my kids, even when to publish a blog post! Over the years, I’ve learnt that done is better than perfect so that put pay to my procrastination.
Procrastination can take other forms. Making excuses, apportioning blame, maybe even laziness, lethargy or lack of focus. Some people are just more get-up-and-go (motivated) and more decisive than others.
It takes all sorts to make the world go round and leaping into quick decisions on a whim isn’t always the right thing to do. There are some good things to be said for delaying a decision. But, generally speaking, procrastination can be a tricky personality trait.
Stop putting off things you really don’t want to do. Get them done today and see how much lighter you feel. Procrastinating just wastes your time, if not your energy. Either decide to get it done today or don’t do it at all.
Exercise: Can you make a list of 3 things you’ve been meaning to do or need to do but haven’t yet done (for whatever reason). Set a deadline to do them over the next week or knock them off your list completely. If they’re really so important to you, you’ll probably find a way to get them done.
#5 Unrealistic expectations
Setting standards that are too high, striving to achieve things that are just not possible (at least without blood, sweat and tears) or pushing ourselves to constantly achieve, in every sense of the word, is so detrimental to our mental and physical health.
Perfectionism, trying to change or control others, setting too high standards for yourself and for others and failure to meet those standards, plays havoc on our brains and bodies.
It can lead to resentment, frustration, anger, tiredness, overwhelm and stress. We can rely on unhealthy props such as sugar, carbs, caffeine, smoking and alcohol to get us through.
Instead maybe we should be addressing the basis for our unrealistic expectations. Perhaps it’s time to slow down a little, stop chasing and instead tend to our self-care in more gentle and healthy ways.
When I struggle with this, I always try to think of it this way… There’s nothing wrong with being kind and supportive to yourself in the same way you would be kind and supportive to others.
Exercise: Do you set unrealistic expectations for yourself, or others? Every time you do, catch yourself. Try to think differently by accepting and embracing ‘good’. Don’t overreach by going for great, perfect or 100%. Good is great in itself. Have a ‘good’ day, a ‘good’ meal, a ‘good’ evening out with friends.
I have plenty of posts and resources on decluttering your physical stuff. I hope what I’ve shared here has given you some insight into other ways you can simplify your life. Did you recognise yourself in any of them?
Thoughts and emotions are complicated things.
I’m certainly not a professional or an expert in all of the above. Yet these 5 things are what I’ve found to complicate my own life to a lesser or greater degree over the years.
I’m sharing them here in the hope that they might help you understand, be aware of or even recognise them in yourself.
Here are some other posts which you might like:
- 20 ways to be happier
- How to declutter your mind
- How perfectionism can hold us back
- Why we should slow down sometimes
- Why setting boundaries is the ultimate self-care
If you’d like to explore a little more about what’s holding you back, pop your details in the box below for a free download…