For our family, trash night is Thursday evening because the trash is picked up on Friday morning. We gather trash throughout the house and take out the recyclables. It feels good to take these items out each week and in a way it feels cleansing to me.
It occurred to me this week, whenever my family throws away or recycles items, they disappear permanently from my mind, and I never think of them again. I don't find myself ruminating about an old yogurt container or veggie scraps. Wouldn't it be great if we could do this with the negative and unhelpful thoughts in our mind?
What happened in the past can stay in the past. If you made a mistake six years ago, you are in great company with the rest of us making mistakes. However, you don't need to torture yourself by reflecting on it over and over again. Each day is a chance to start anew. We don't need to carry our past and our negativity with us wherever we go.
Join me in this exercise to throw away your unhelpful thoughts:
Take a few moments and find a quiet place
Picture the thoughts, mental habits or parts of your life that don't serve you
You might see negativity in a big, red plastic bag with a toxic symbol on it
Your past might be in a grey, fading bag because it is behind you and can't bother you again
Fear might be in a black,overflowing bag because it tries to squeeze you and hold you back
Think of whatever you do that doesn't serve you. For me: it's self-doubt, perfectionism, anxiety and being self-critical.
Assign colorful bags to these habits or emotions. Make them clear in your mind
Slowly pick them up and walk them to a waiting garbage bin. As you do this, you can see the garbage truck coming up the street to take them.
You watch the garage bin being emptied into the truck and your thoughts and mental habits disappear among the other waste where they belong
Take a few more deep breathes and refocus on the rest of your day.
The next time you have a negative thought or you start to think about a mistake from the past over and over, remember this exercise. You threw away those kind of thoughts because they don't help you. They don't get to take up space in your life. Remove the waste in your mind so there is fresh air and space to grow and thrive.