It’s the same wisdom or flow which creative geniuses tap into when they’re creating their greatest works – think Mozart,… think Da Vinci… think Einstein….
The problem is that when our mental space is crowded we tend to ignore this inner wisdom, get ourselves in a tangle and over-think the tasks in front of us, leading to an unproductive, uncreative place characterised by our old friends Ms Procrastination and Mr Overwhelm - RIGHT where I found myself at the start of this week...
I was up to my ears in work and childcare (husband’s away) with no time to get on top of the cleaning. The state of the house was starting to really get to me. I was unable to focus on my work, yet didn't feel justified in spending precious work-time cleaning up the mess that was distracting me - Catch 22. Every time I saw the stuff on the bed or the washing pile, I spent precious brain space noticing it, ruminating on it, deciding not to do anything about it - 'because there was just too much else to do!!' - and then noticing it all over again two hours later.
I'd been running this mental pattern for several days (with the mess steadily accumulating). The more drained my brain was by the 'not-acted-on messy-house thoughts', the less space there was for me to feel positive and creative about all the important things I DID want to get done. I realised I was getting dangerously close to being paralysed by my old pal Mr Overwhelm.
Through a sheer act of will I quelled enough of my rising panic, and cleared enough head space to sit down and ask myself, ‘What would make the biggest difference here, right now?’
The answer was drastic and quite simple: I called in an emergency cleaning lady. Three hours later, I felt AMAZING. Her presence and her EFFECT!! spurred me on to put the clothes in the loft that had been sitting on the bed for longer than I care to remember. I sorted out the washing and generally get back on top of things - a major toleration, dealt with. So much so, I had enough piece of mind to sit down, *do an ‘empty’, tap back into my innate wisdom and personal brilliance, and - miracle of miracles -: calmly and logically(!!) organise the rest of my week.
*See my guide to Getting Things Done to learn more about this personal effectiveness gem!
Clearing out the clutter
We’re all geniuses of one kind or another but the shine gets rubbed off our brilliance by the tolerations we allow to crowd in on our mental space. This mental baggage dulls our shine, and dilutes the energy and attention we're able to give to the important things in our lives. Our ability to create and respond, is reduced to simply dealing with and reacting.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, fuzzy headed, struggling to see the woods for the trees, feeling ‘down’ about yourself, or wanting to take your personal standards to another level, it's worth stopping and taking account of all the toleration gremlins you may be dragging along in a mental suitcase behind you.
Tolerations come in many forms – toxic people, unfinished tasks, not saying no, a never ending to do list, our environment, an unresolved matter with a family member, our messy desk, that broken vase, those clothes you’ve been hording but not worn for ten years.
Clearing out the clutter in your mental space will enable you to access your innate wisdom (your brilliance) and be at your best. It’s from a toleration-free space that you’ll make the best decisions, come up with the best solutions, and healthily handle challenging situations and relationships.
Your 4-Step Guide to Toleration Zapping
Toleration Zapper # 1: Make a list
Make a list of everything you’re tolerating in your home environment, your work life, your relationships, your community, your physical surroundings.
Don’t worry how long the toleration list gets, or how you’ll resolve them, just write them down. Rest assured that just by having them down on a piece of paper you’ve faced up to them, acknowledged them, and the solutions will come.
Toleration Zapper # 2: Look for connections
Take a look at your list and see if there are any connected tolerations. Sometimes there’ll be a pivotal toleration which once dealt with has the effect of resolving several others. – my messy house for example which spurred me on to sort out several other tolerations. Or perhaps you’re tolerating a poor sense of community, a bad back, and a lack of interests outside of your work – joining a sports club or pilates class could tackle all those tolerations at once.
Toleration Zapper # 3: Identify solutions
Next to each toleration write down what needs to happen to get rid of the toleration once and for all. Some are simple: TIDY UP!!
Others perhaps take a bit more thought.
Toleration Zapper # 4: Trust the process
What you tend to find is that by turning around and acknowledging all these tolerations face on (overwhelming as that might seem at first if your list is a long one), you’re actively putting your attention on the intention to get rid of them. And once the intention is there, you’ll be amazed how quickly the solutions come and you put the necessary actions in place to get rid of them once and for all.
So, over to you:
- What’s broken and needs mending?
- What’s in a mess?
- What can be tidied and put away?
- What’s been niggling away at you to do for months and you keep pushing to the back of your mind, only for it to resurface two weeks later?
Write it down. Take the action you need to get it done - TODAY - and move on; your mental space a little clearer and your inner brilliance shining a little brighter.
Tip: For quick wins: start with your physical environment. You’ll make quick progress and this will spur you on to address other tolerations related to your family and your work.
Let me know how you get on!