For better or worse, you have a constant companion that impacts your ability to get and stay organized. It is a recurring voice inside your head. At any given time, the voice might be excited or frustrated, positive or negative, fast or slow, quiet or loud. I will call this voice brain chatter. According to the Urban Dictionary1 brain chatter is the high intensity inner monologue (in some cases dialogue) that distracts or interrupts activities in the external world.
This brain chatter comes from experiences you’ve had and advice you’ve been given. So while the chatter often sounds rational and sound; just like experiences or advice there are questions of truth and reality. For example, you consider deleting a wooden coffee table from your house. Despite the fact that one leg has been broken in half for several years, your brain chatter says “it can be fixed.”
Whether or not it can actually be repaired isn’t the point. It hasn’t been fixed in several years. It is taking up space in your house. At this point, your logical brain may say, “Ok, I can let this table go.” Then another voice exclaims, “But it’s so wasteful to just dispose of it.” This equally reasonable voice might be something you heard in the past. So now you have competing voices!
The problem is these differing voices often lead to inaction around declutter and organizing. To complicate matters, this brain chatter increases incrementally according to the amount of extra stuff in your space. For each item there are multiple decision points. It all starts with whether or not to keep the item. That initial decision leads to additional choices. This chart is just the beginning of the process.
The trouble is your brain chatter chimes in during each stage.
Don’t despair! There are tools which can help calm the brain chatter.
• Awareness: At each decision point, be aware of the brain chatter.
• Origination: Who or what is talking? Is it a relative or friend? Is it your own fear? Is it something from the past? What are they saying?
• Cessation: Knowing who and want is behind the brain chatter determines how they can be stopped.
o Talk back: For instance, you may want to create some standard sentences to say for the voice of a relative who is no longer living: “I know that this item was really important to you. While I like this item, I like other items of yours better. I feel that I am preserving my good memories of you with those items.”
o Give permission: “I give myself permission to delete these items despite what my brain chatter says.”
o Make a statement: “I get to make choices about my stuff. I will make decisions that work for me.”
o Challenge: “I will not listen to you!”
Remember, you created these voices. I know they may have originated with other people, but you allowed them to inhabit your brain for quite awhile. As such, you have the power to change the brain chatter. It may not be easy, but it is essential to control your internal voices in order to deal with your stuff. Which tool will you start using today?
If you need additional assistance identifying and combating your brain clutter, check out our organizing coaching services on Ordered Minds.
1 Definition accessed from http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=brain%20chatter on 9/1/2010.