The past few months, I have been on a big “minimalism” kick. If you haven’t heard this term before, it refers to the concept of only owning what you need, use, and love – and letting go of the rest. The more stuff we hold on to, the more stuff we are responsible to clean, take care of, store and maintain. This can bog us down and stress us out.
Truthfully, I have been living as a minimalist my entire life. I grew up in a home surrounded by a lot of chaos, and minimalism provided a way for me to feel more in control of my environment. As this pandemic has forced most of us to be in our homes more throughout this past year, many people have latched onto this idea of a minimalist home as well. People have been decluttering left and right – and I believe it is a way for people to find freedom and peace in the midst of the chaos they feel surrounding them, just like I did. We can find freedom as we let go of the excess and only keep what we truly need and enjoy. As author and organizing consultant Marie Kondo says, keep the stuff that “sparks joy.” So what if we tried this concept with decluttering our mind?
As a mental health professional, I believe that this idea of minimalism can be taken beyond the stuff in our homes and applied to our mindset as well. I call this “mental minimalism.” What if we worked to eliminate all of the thoughts and beliefs that we hold about ourselves that we don’t need, use, or love? What would it be like to live inside of a brain that wasn’t bogged down by unhelpful emotions that zap our energy and don’t serve us well? I wonder if this would help us experience true freedom.
Just as you would if you were decluttering your home, I would encourage you to spend some time taking an inventory of the clutter inside of your head – all of the thoughts, emotions, and beliefs you are storing and maintaining about yourself. Which thoughts and beliefs are serving you well and leading to a more fulfilling life? These are the ones that you use and love. Which ones are dragging you down and making you feel stuck? These are the ones you can work to let go of. Pack them up and take them to the Mental Garbage Dump. If you need some help with this, talking to a counselor can be a place to start.
I hope you are able to find freedom as you work toward mental minimalism and, in the words of Marie Kondo, “spark joy!”