During a prolonged driving rainstorm, there is a real danger of flooding as water clearly builds up faster than it can drain. On the other hand, a light drizzle seems harmless. However, given enough time, the same amount of rain will fall as during a downpour. If there is no place for it to drain, even a light rain will flood.
Every day there are issues requiring your attention. Although some problems may be significant, most are either minor annoyances or relatively insignificant. The examples are endless. You can't find something, you're upset by an offhanded comment, you're worrying about something from the past, you are worrying about the future, you forgot something, or someone didn't return your phone call. There's no doubt you can come up with your own extensive list.
Just like with a light rain with no drainage, your mind eventually becomes flooded with insignificant stuff. Since the buildup is gradual, there's no sense of alarm. Yet, issue after issue, the mental clutter grows deeper.
With each new addition to your clutter collection, your baseline of normal is raised to accommodate the expanding buildup. As this cycle repeats itself, the load you carry gets heavier. The result is reduced levels of patience, diminished coping ability, higher stress levels, and more frustration.
As your mind gets cluttered with the mundane, your capacity to deal effectively with major issues becomes substantially diminished. This affects your judgment as well as how you interact with others. When you feel overwhelmed, you make poorer decisions and become a more difficult person to deal with.
Worry clutters your mind faster than most other things. Worry is like being in a rocking chair; it's a lot of activity that doesn't get you anywhere. You worry about the past, lamenting what you should have, would have, or could have done. The past teaches two important lessons: what didn't work along with what successful behavior should be repeated. Learn from your past, then move forward.
You also waste time worrying about the future. Instead, use your energy preparing for the future by taking appropriate action today. Do something about situations you have influence over while letting go of any circumstances you have no control over.
The best approach for dealing with mental clutter is not allowing it to build up in the first place. When faced with an issue, here are some questions to ask. Is it really important? Does it matter in the long run? Are there more important things to focus on? Is any action required on your part? Can you just let it go?
Keeping things in perspective enables you to release mental clutter. Focusing on all you have to be thankful for keeps your attitude positive. Maintain an attitude of gratitude. Start each day by going through a mental checklist of all the blessings in your life.
A well engrained attitude of gratitude causes you to realize that most problems are not worth all the energy spent on them. There is no need for you to allow people or situations to clutter your mind.
Clutter attracts clutter. As your mind fills, it’s easier to get caught up accumulating even more. You have to stop the buildup process before it is possible to start freeing yourself.
Change your outlook. Don't get stressed out by new potential clutter. Rather, consider each annoying situation as an opportunity to practice letting it go. A shift in your approach will make a world of difference. You already know that hanging onto clutter doesn't work. So learn from experience as you move forward.
NOW AVAILABLE: "Dare to Live Without Limits," the book. Visit www.BryanGolden.com or your bookstore. Bryan is a management consultant, motivational speaker, author, and adjunct professor. E-mail Bryan at
or write him c/o this paper. 2013 Bryan Golden