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Time to Marie Kondo Your Mental Space

Right now there are a lot of closets being cleaned as people step back, stay in, and self quarantine.  There is something else that maybe needs the life-changing magic of tidying up.  Your mindset maybe needs a Marie Kondo treatment right about now.

I recommend buying some new mental frames to freshen up your psychological interior.  Especially if you may be sitting in this space for awhile.  They haven’t sold out in stores or online. They’re easier to secure than Vitamin C, Charmin, or Purel.

It’s worth considering, because no one needs a mental spring fever right now. 

We currently are existing in a rapidly-changing global milieu of uncertainty and unprecedented change.  A pandemic has created ripple waves felt far and wide.  On the Richter scale, the COVID-19 pandemic is registering off the charts.  Jobs, relationships, and routines are being forced to adapt as we stare at the Black Swan charging straight at us. 

When our brains register threat – real, exaggerated, or entirely imagined—a survival response is activated.  Our minds and our bodies become hosts for the mental and somatic experiences that are anxiety and panic.  COVID-19 is impacting more than respiratory systems right now.  It is leaving is mark on the collective psyche of the globe as fear spreads contagiously. 

There are many things that we cannot control in these days of uncertainty.  Many things are beyond the scope of our practical reach. But we need not sit idly by and wait.   We are not helpless.  It is time to open our eyes and look for opportunity.  The world is not happening to us.  It is time for us to happen to our world. 

Have some newfound time?  Perhaps it would behoove you to reorganize the photo gallery in your mind.

The cracked frame that holds the picture of frazzled parents trying to work with stir crazy kids underfoot, can be replaced with one that shows four people under the same roof stepping on toes but making it work.  The reality has set in that this is not like a snow day.  This is not even spring break.  Everyone inside the mat has learned that routine and a schedule are keys to sanity.  Gratitude is cultivated for clocking more time face-to-face on a regular basis than they have been able to share ever before.  In the days and weeks ahead there will be moments that won’t go missed and will be remembered for always.

The splintered frame holding an image of a professional sitting at a cubicle can be a replaced with a sleek modern one holding a photo of a new home office.  It belongs to someone who is learning the highly valuable skills of learning, creativity, and adaptability.   He has committed to taking a class and is developing a brand new skillset which will likely open doors down the road he never dreamed before.  His longstanding suspicions that all of those meetings really weren’t necessary have been confirmed. Sweet vindication.

As you’re arranging your shifted headspace, be sure to make room for some of the following snapshots:

•            Someone hiking and getting much needed sunlight on their skin.  No more fluorescent lights.  No more taking the elevator to use a stair-stepper at the gym.

•            A couple looking together at their bank account and budget, having a conversation that they have been avoiding but needed to have months ago.

•            An envelope containing a handwritten note of appreciation sitting a mailbox.

•            Three generations smiling as they look at screens, connected through Zoom. Grandpa figured it out.

Anxiety can arrest and catapult those it infects on sharp downward mental vectors, turning and tossing worst case scenarios over in one’s mind.  It can hijack vision to see only the ideas or images that confirm the current belief driving feelings and choices.  It can create monochrome sight through which the world becomes a black-and-white tale of overwhelming extremes. 

Don’t be swept off your feet or drowned by the deep undercurrent.  If you are going to have to stay for awhile, upgrade the space in your mind from a dodgy motel to a five-star resort. 

Shift your focus. 

Move your attention. Find ways to give. Practice gratitude.

Acknowledge what is real. 

Facing uncertainty and the possibility of loss or endangerment can be frightening.  Don’t forget what is true on the flip side.  Being forced to change can also create opportunity and experience that you wouldn’t have chosen or electively created for your life. 

Look for space to grow. Use it.

When you’re cleaning mental house, it’s okay to leave a messy closet (think Monica from Friends).  Perhaps that particular space in your home belongs up in the attic.  You can let it be there.  It exists.  You needn’t deny it, but it’s not where you need to be living the precious moments of these days.  


March 21, 2020

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