relaxed in the sun

Clear Out the Mental Clutter

There it was again. My anxiety was rising. I felt it in my chest then in the back of my neck.

I couldn’t just stop worrying about work. Did I screw up by pushing my team too hard?

I kept replaying the situation in my head. I could see how I was getting too pushy. It made me cringe.

Right before I left last night, I walked up to one of my teammates and began asking about our project. How far had she come with the designs and what can I tell our partner? I could see her surprised facial expression. She figured that she had more time.

I wanted to make sure that she understood that the project was very important and I ended up overdoing it. I felt bad. I didn’t need to be so pushy.

As I tossed and turned I played out the situation in my head again and again and again.

I finally got up and decided to write in my gratitude journal.

I was grateful that I…

  • Cared so much about the project that I wanted it to be successful.
  • Enjoyed my work and cared about how my teammates felt when I interacted with them.
  • Wanted to improve how I communicated with my teammates.

After writing this short list, I felt so much better.

Then I decided to take it a step farther. I wrote about one small way I could improve.

  • I will pause to take a breath before I let my anxiety take over, so I can be more conscious about how I communicate with my teammates.

I settled myself with my gratitude journal then I added a small way to improve.

I went back to bed and fell right asleep.

The Importance of Pausing

It’s an old adage to take a few deep breaths before you say something that you regret. The problem is many of us don’t use this tactic.

We don’t use it because we don’t appreciate how much the pause can help us. The grateful pause can help level set ourselves before we say something we regret or act in a way that embarrasses us.

I was completely embarrassed by how I handled myself with my teammate. Just replaying the situation in my head triggered a hot flash that pulsed from my head down into my chest.

I didn’t clear out the mental clutter before I acted.

Our work is important, but our relationships with our coworkers are just as important. If I put the work first, our relationship will struggle. If I put our relationship first then our work will struggle. They must be equal and handled accordingly. That’s why pausing for a moment when I can feel my anxiety creeping up, before I act, is so important. It allows me to catch it before I say or do something to damage my relationships with my co-workers.

Your Turn

Clearing out the mental clutter helps you make more conscious and smarter decisions without letting your emotions push you into saying or doing something you regret.

It helps to know when your brain feels cluttered. I can feel it in my chest first then in the back of my head. These feelings signal me to pay attention. Your body is probably different. Just try to notice where your “mental clutter” feeling starts and this will help trigger you to take a pause before you take action.

Do you feel embarrassment or frustration in a certain part of your body first?

Write this down when it happens. Just by documenting it, you’ll start to gain influence over your emotions and clear out the clutter before your emotions sweep you away.

If you’re curious about where you are in your emotional journey then try the Bring Gratitude Quiz to see how grateful you are. You’ll get a score and a few ideas of where you can start to feel a little more grateful and enjoy the small things a little more.