Declutter your mind by S J Scott and Barrie Davenport

To be honest, I hadn’t heard about something like ‘Habit Development Coach’ until I read S. J. Scott’s book ‘De-clutter your mind- how to stop worrying, relive anxiety and eliminate negative thinking’. Written with Barry Davenport (who has independently written the guided mindfulness series), the book has known to have changed the lives of several people.


Author : S J Scott and Barrie Davenport
Originally Published : 2016
Publication : CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Pages : 156
Genre(s) :- Non-Fiction, Mindset, Health

Of late, a lot of emphasis is being laid on mental health and in my opinion, our thoughts determine our mental health. Human mind is wired to keep its thoughts whirring on a constant basis, all hours of our waking time. It’s only when we sleep that the mind gets quiet a bit. The mind can get chaotic at times and it gets tough to silence it. All that self talk kind of overwhelms you. As you realize that all of this talk is not helping you, rather hurting you, so wish you could de-clutter it. It isn’t as simple as de-cluttering your wardrobe or that cupboard, is it? 

How thoughts shape our lives

The brain’s job is to process everything that it received as stimuli from its sense organs. More often, what the brain processes and puts forth as thoughts is assumed by us to be the facts. This is where things start getting crooked, for the mind has a habit of leaving its track and wandering like a monkey. You’d be surprised, this analogy is not mine, hundreds of ancient paintings and sculptures across the world have depicted a monkey to denote the foolishly wandering human mind. Thoughts are confused as judgments and facts and that causes lot of mental agony. The mind creates its own mess, then wanders some more and brings in some chaos and rubbish, then perceives it to be true facts and finally gets embroiled in its own web of negativity. 

In order to avoid this, we must first learn to observe the internal dialogue and chatter and then de-clutter it. The mind loves negative, regretful, unwanted thoughts and to languish in it. It stays quiet only when we meditate, exercise, have sex or use pills or alcohol to lose consciousness for some time. But these are all band-aid solutions. 

How can we de-clutter the monkey mind

Simply by 

  1. De-cluttering Your Thoughts
  2. De-cluttering Your Life Obligations
  3. De-cluttering your Relationships
  4. De-cluttering Your Surroundings

What causes clutter 

The authors list four key reasons for the mind to get cluttered

  1. Daily stress: of dealing with your job, the relationships, family and friends, finances, future and much more takes a toll on your mental health
  2. The paradox of choice: talk about personal freedom. You spend far more time making choices from available options than when you have no choice. More and more people are choosing to limit their personal choices like clothes to a select few to avoid spending time on trivial things and to enable them to focus on the more important ones. 
  3. Too much stuff- clothes, accessories, books, jewelry and what not. Our houses and lives are full of stuff we buy or hoard but rarely (or never) use. Our computers and our phones are cluttered for lack of space. We look at every message, every tweet for fear of missing out and clutter our minds. All this because we ‘want’ more than we ‘need’ and just don’t manage to let go. 
  4. The negativity bias: As we evolved as species, mother nature filled us with three negative aspects to overcome threats that we encountered while we struggled to stay alive- overestimating threats, underestimating opportunities, and underestimating resources (for dealing with threats and fulfilling opportunities. Which means we’re wired to over-think, fear, obsess over perceived threats and in general, prepare ourselves for worst case scenario. 

The authors has provided a blueprint to steer clear of this abyss, the four habits to delete clutter from the mind:

  • Focused deep breathing. When you feel overwhelmed and stressed, your body’s first distress sign is your altered breathing. Shallow breaths are seen when you should actually be giving more oxygen to your body through deep breathing. Our body also contracts to lessen the negative impact. It takes just a reminder to the mind to start deep breathing and to relax the mind and expand it if possible
  • Meditation follow any style but all it takes is to sit at a quiet place and focus on your breathing and silence your mind. Some liken it to the reps at the gym, to flex your mental muscles!
  • Reframe all negative thoughts. As in ALL those which you have turned negative. Know your thought pattern. Know your triggers and stay aware of that. Guide your mind to understand that your thoughts are neither you nor reality. 
  • Teach your old mind new tricks You’re never too old to learn. Challenge old thought patterns and replace them with new ones. Accept facts and learn to find a way through problems without avoiding or denying them

De-cluttering your life obligations by prioritizing on life’s core values and focus areas that matter the most. That includes family, health, personal finance, fitness, relationships, love, personal growth, spirituality, etc. Set SMART goals and work towards them. Review them periodically. Connect goals to passions so you never feel stressed out about fulfilling them. 

De-cluttering relationships is the tricky part. Prioritize relationships, accept people, love unconditionally, have open communication and be in the present. Parting from a relationship is scary because we’ve gotten used to clinging, even when we know it’s not going any further. We invest ourselves in people when the relationship is spent. 

Simplifying our digital life has become equally important , what with a constant stream of notifications and the fear of missing out (FOMO).

Key takeaways

  1. Cleaning the mind is like cleaning the house- removing unwanted things and making space for that which you value the most. 
  2. Keeping things simple takes a lot of working around it. Prioritizing is the key
  3. Remember your thoughts are not you nor are they facts. Learn to distinguish
  4. Observe your thoughts and cleanse them at all times till it becomes an automatic activity. 

Why I recommend this book

Because it shows you where you stand and what bothers you the most. Accepting that your mind is cluttered is the key towards beginning cleaning. Read the book, make notes, compare your life with what’s being said and begin quickly. 

Read also to realize that our thoughts determine our lives. Just like you will always feel lost in a cluttered house, a cluttered mind is also not the best in shape for productivity and peace. 

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