Tool: Take Out the Trash


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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

"Take out the trash.  The trash is anything that's keeping you from the only thing that matters, this moment.  Here.  Now.  And when you truly are in the here and now, you'll be amazed at what you can do, and how well you can do it." - Socrates, in the movie Peaceful Warrior

How do you take out the trash?  This post is all about some ideas.

Set a watch, timer, or phone alarm to go off every hour.  There are even apps for this - setting reminders throughout the day.  Every hour, check in on your state of mind, and see what your emotions are like.  Look at where they came from.  Decide if you need to keep them, or if it is okay to leave at least one of them behind somewhere.

Being angry or happy or sad is part of our humanity - for a few minutes or hours or days.  Yet we get to decide if we want to keep the emotions around for any length of time, or if it is okay to let them go.  Checking on your state of mind every hour is a good way to be conscious of these things, and to be more active in the decisions about your consciousness; your state of mind. 

Tolerate your own mistakes.

Figure out what you are afraid of.  Later you can figure out what to do with this, but figuring it out is half the battle… asking the question, and allowing yourself to answer.  Listen to it.  Take the time for this.  It may take a few moments - or it may take months.

Cry sometimes.  Or a lot. Create the space for that, too, and notice where it is coming from… or where it might be.  Forgive yourself.

This quote is from the movie Peaceful Warrior, just before an Olympic gymnastic trial...

“It's not magic, Tommy.  Just getting rid of all that bullshit you have up in your head that tells you you might not be enough.  So when you get up there, you make every move about the move.  All right?  Not about the gold.  Not about what your dad thinks about you.  Not about anything but that one moment in time.” - Dan Millman, Peaceful Warrior

See a friend.  Hire a coach.  Go to a counselor.  Talk.  Think about leaving mental "trash" there with the counselor - like in a staging area - and picking it up later if you need to.  It’s in a safe space, but you can walk away from it.  Or, walk away from it on a walk somewhere.  You can find it again if you need to.

You probably won’t need to.

You can alway have a good yell at whatever you need to yell at, from inside the peace and quiet of your vehicle.  Alone!  The idea here is not to pass around stress!  Yelling in the quiet of your vehicle (or with the stereo cranked) doesn’t reverberate a whole lot, and no one can really hear you.  As an aside, this is also a super useful tool for commuting (yelling inside your vehicle), and for following slow-movers in a parking lot or garage.  Contained yelling is a good stress reliever either way.

Another idea:  consider having a funeral for your day (credit for this idea goes to Steve Maraboli).  You could apply the same idea elswehere, and have a funeral for an event, or a milestone, or for any tough and challenging time.  Let go of the mistakes and trials every day; recognize them and leave them in their place.  A funeral is a celebration, an honoring, a peace-making, a letting-go.  Start anew tomorrow. 

"Taking out the trash" may involve having a conversation that you’ve been avoiding.  Maybe for half a lifetime.  Ask a coach or a counselor or someone else to help you figure out how you might try to have these conversations.  The conversations don’t need to happen all at once.  You may decide that they don’t need to happen at all, but first decide to consider it.  Sometimes the need has passed, and you didn’t even realize it.  If that’s the case, then you one less thing to carry around.  Mission accomplished.

Eckhart Tolle has good writing and video about not carrying stuff around.  The idea is that if you can live in the present moment, you’re not carrying stuff with you.  Because you’re in the present.  The movie quoted above, Peaceful Warrior, is a beautiful story showing how it can be done… living in the present. 

The trick to "taking out the trash” is to recognize you are carrying something, figure out what it is, and then deciding whether or not you still need (or want) to carry it.

Turns out that you don’t always need to process stuff again that you are still upset or mad or sad about.  Sometimes you just need to notice that you are holding on to it - and stop.  It doesn’t change it.  It just changes your relationship to it, and your investment in it.  It’s kind of surprising, really. 

Just because you let some stuff go doesn’t mean more won’t show up later… or under or behind other stuff.  But the load is sure lighter. 

One thing at a time.

“Finish each day and be done with it.  You have done what you could.  Some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can.   Tomorrow is a new day.  You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”  - Emerson

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