THE BLOG

How to Declutter Your Mind and Gain More Clarity

08/01/2015 09:55 GMT | Updated 09/03/2015 09:59 GMT

Modern life runs at such a fast pace that we all find ourselves with too much going on: a million different projects, to-do lists longer than your arm. We worry about things such as money, family concerns and work deadlines. With all this buzzing around in our heads it's often a nightmare trying to concentrate on one thing.

I'm here to tell you that it doesn't have to be that way. In fact it's quite possible to empty your mind of all the noise, declutter your thoughts and concentrate on what's important.

All too often we get caught up in what I call 'contaminated thinking' - by this I mean worries, anxious thoughts and doubts. This contaminated thinking can temporarily obscure our innate capacity for clarity, resilience and wellbeing, and is the result of what I call the 'outside-in misunderstanding'. This is the mistaken belief that our feelings are coming from something other than thought in the moment (for instance past events, future prospects, current circumstances, other people etc). This widespread misunderstanding is reinforced by the media, well-meaning friends and our own neurology, and is to 21st century psychology what ignorance of germs and bacteria was to 18th century medicine.

Fortunately, there's a powerful solution that every single person has within them: an innate source of clarity, confidence and self-belief. The first question many people ask when they hear about this is "how do I develop that?", but there's a more powerful question: "what's been getting in the way until now?"

Confidence, clarity and self-belief are innate; they're something you're born with. They are your 'factory settings' (if you doubt this, spend half an hour in the company of a two-year-old.) The thing that gets in the way is contaminated thinking; spurious mental activity arising from the mistaken belief that we're feeling something other than the ebb and flow of thought in the moment. This is an innocent mistake, and one we all fall for from time to time.

It can really seem like those feelings of pressure are coming from a future deadline, or that stress is coming from the number of emails in the inbox, but it can't possibly work that way. Just as a little child is fooled into believing their feelings of comfort and security come from a teddy bear or a blanket, the power of thought fools us into believing our feelings are telling us about external factors (eg the holiday we're looking forward to or the presentation we're dreading, the telling off we got last month or the praise we got last week). It truly seems as though our feelings are telling us about those external factors, because that's how it really looks, but it's a trick of the mind. History is full of these tricks; people mistakenly believed the earth was flat, but it was always spherical. The earth has always gone round the sun but people believed the sun went round the earth. Why? Because that's how it looked (in fact, that's how it still looks).

The mistaken belief that our feelings are telling us about something other than thought in the moment is the source of the majority of stress, pressure and anxiety. The mind is a self-correcting system. We have a natural capacity for mental clarity, the gateway to connection, creativity and high performance. As you deepen your understanding of the principles behind clarity, you start 'waking up' from the outside-in misunderstanding, and aligning your experience with the inside-out nature of life. Just as the snow in a snow globe starts to settle the moment you stop shaking it, your mind starts to settle the moment you see through the 'trick' of the outside-in misunderstanding. This is a practical and lasting remedy to everyday worries, doubts and fears, and a reconnection to the source of peace, clarity and wellbeing that rests inside each one of us.

Jamie Smart is the author of CLARITY: Clear Mind, Better Performance, Bigger Results

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