Here's what's up today on the 21 Day Clear Mind/Clean Closet Challenge I'm taking (and you should too if you believe that your closet can be a reflection of what's going on in your mind):
According to the Huffington Post, and the Happiness Index, only 1 in 3 Americans is "really happy."
On top of that, in his new book You Are the Placebo, Joe Dispenza says, "We think somewhere between 60,000 to 70,000 thoughts a day, and 90% of those thoughts are actually the same ones we had the day before."
And finally, to really freak you out, there's this:
According to some research, according to Jennifer Hawthorne, "80% of our thoughts are negative."
Omg right? Now I'm overwhelmed, which is actually just one more negative thought to add to today's pile.
We are a broken record, on repeat, rehashing yesterday's thoughts and applying them to today. Almost 100% of those thoughts by the way, the ones we keep carrying over without even consciously knowing it, are negative.
No wonder 1 in 3 Americans is not really happy.
Buuuuuut, what if this isn't such a bad thing?
What if this doesn't mean we're doomed? What if all of this means we are seriously capable of way more than we care to think about in our packed brains of ours?
We process almost 100,000 thoughts in our brains. Think about that for a minute, whoop, there's another thought.
How amazing is that? It means we are powerhouses, we're just using our powers for evil (or in this case, negative) instead of good.
So how do we use this to our advantage? I think it takes being hyper aware of the thoughts that roll around in your head. And since I also think it is impossible to be aware of every one of them, it's best to start by focusing on your moods.
Your mood is a direct reflection of what you're thinking. It's a great starting point that you can hold onto, unlike the other thousands of thoughts passing by at warp speed, unnoticed, throughout the day.
How I drill down below the surface to figure out where the mood is coming from:
I am a fan of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). The main practice I learned from reading a book about it (I am not an expert, I just use it a lot on myself and clients, and um, family members) is to go through a very simple step-by-step questioning process when an intense emotion/moodiness hits.
First up, define said mood.
When you're really angry and your eyeballs shake inside your skull (just me? I'm part Italian), it's tough to be in that moment and not see red. But in CBT, you can go back to that moment once you've calmed down a bit later in the day (count to 10, have a drink, get some chamomile, whatever) and evaluate.
So step one is done, the mood in this hypothetical scenario is angry.
Measure the intensity of the mood on a scale of 1-10.
With each following question, you take one small step out of the emotion and that allows you to start seeing it for what it is. Taking the emotion out of it sucks the drama out of it and helps you see what is at the core. Once you know that, you have something to work with.
The following questions help extract all the emotion out of the situation:
- What went through your mind at the time? What did that say about you or mean to you? What is the worst thing that could have happened?
- What is fact and what is opinion? What would your best friend tell you if you said this to her/him?
- What would you tell your best friend if he/she said this to you? In two weeks, will this still be important?
- Re-rate your mood.
That's the abbreviated version, but usually, at the end of the process (essentially guided journaling) your mood goes from 10 to significantly lower if not completely neutral.
It works for everything from anger to anxiety to whatever other human emotion you can throw at it. But it isn't a magic bullet and it isn't about eliminating the mood no matter how badly you may want to (anyone with panic attacks will understand that one).
The big mood is the alert. From there you can ask away and see what is left when you peel back the layers of feelings. You may get down to some massive life epiphany or you may just find yourself a tad calmer than when you began. Both results are a success but again, not the point. The point is, you are helping yourself go off autopilot.
You are waking up and able to see that, the worst case scenario you assigned to your mood is pure fiction, which means, that mood, just like that sequin dress in your closet with tags still hanging on it, no longer serves you. Let it go.
When you hold a mirror up to your unhappy moments, they start to lose all their power. They start to dissolve and take up less space/emotional energy.
You bad moods start to fade because you're calling them on their bluff.
Conversely, those happy moments, when you hold a mirror up to them, lose their mojo too. Sad? Nah. It is actually a good thing. They lose importance and your lose your dependency on them to bring you joy.
As in, you don't really rely on the 'stuff' to make you happy. And bonus round, the other 'stuff' that drove you nuts in the past with anger/fear/etc. also has very little hold on you.
Think about it. Get back to me. And for now I'll say, good night.
Day 7, done.
CHECK OUT THE LATEST: