The Truth Method: A 3-Step Process to Spring Clean Your Mind
Spring is the ideal time to reduce clutter and clean our spaces as life reemerges from hibernation and blossoms back into full color. We can also use this new beginning to reexamine some of our unhelpful attitudes and beliefs and shed the mental winter.
Mental clutter is more challenging to deal with than its physical counterpart. It’s not visible. It won’t embarrass us when we have visitors. No one can knock on the door of your mind and you’d say excuse the mess. It’s hidden, internal, and quite intimate. No one is privy to what’s on your mind.
It’s this hidden mess that drives our behavior and shapes our reality. The mental junk can accumulate in the form of one (or more) of the following.
- Strong negative views and beliefs from past memories and experiences
- Conflicting and paralyzing thoughts and ideas
- Unfinished/not-started tasks and projects that linger and feed anxiety
In all likelihood, beliefs and thought patterns drive the other two patterns. So we’ll start with the old emotional stuff that’s been piling up in the attic of the mind.
We can us a simple three-step process to work through some of the negative beliefs that are holding us back and cluttering our mind.
The truth method
Our resident beliefs and views are deeply rooted into the emotional mind. They’re usually the result of past experiences and are viewed as our absolute truths. Let’s start there.
Step 1: Your truth: Identify and examine your views and beliefs.
What beliefs about yourself, your loved ones, and the world do you have that keep causing you pain?
Make a list of what comes up. You don’t need a full list, one or two can be a good start.
The thought that is turned into a belief is backed up by something that makes it true for us. Why do you believe this thought or view to be true for you?
Write down the proof that this belief is true.
Step 2: Consider the World’s truth.
For each belief you listed and each reason, step out of the situation, and look at the situation from a distance. Find other possible outcomes that you haven’t considered.
For each statement you wrote as your truth, find proof to the contrary. Don’t stop with just one, find at least three or more that can be as truthful as your own statement.
Step 3: Process and let go.
Look at both sides of the belief—your truth and other possible truths. Can you accept that both are equally valid? Sit with this for as long as you need till you feel that you’re okay with the truth in all its forms.
If you can’t accept the other truths, feel whatever comes up. Breathe into the feeling and allow it to pass through you, till you feel at ease and more open to acceptance.
When we’re able to accept both sides of a situation, we can make peace with it. And then let it go.
Can you let go of everything? Can you allow this belief to leave your mind? You can thank it for being there and helping you grow? Then say goodbye realizing that the experiences and feelings that formed this belief are only part of the entire experience. We learned what we needed, and we can find closure and move on.
Below are a couple of examples that can help in clarifying the three steps and putting them to action.
A situation with a family member
There is a close family member that has wronged me in the past and I harbor a lot of resentment towards him.
The belief: John is selfish. He only thinks of himself.
My truth: He doesn’t call me unless he wants something, or wants to complain. He doesn’t try to help himself and expects me to do everything for him. It’s not fair, I’ve done for him way more than he’s ever done for me.
The world’s truth: John calls me sometimes without asking for anything. He took me to the doctor when I was sick. We had fun playing when we were kids. He taught me how to ride a bike, and we had lots of laughs. He was there for his parents when they needed him. He does many things for himself. He gets his groceries, does his laundry, prepares his food, and takes care of his dog. It’s possible that I did more for him than he did for me, but it felt good that I did help out a family member. Maybe it’s not fair that I’m able to help him more than he can help me.
Acceptance and letting go: I feel that I’ve resented John for a long time based on my reactive feelings at the time. I feel the resentment and choose to let it go. I also choose to accept that John is a flawed human being, just like me, he’s doing the best he can. I feel John’s humanity as much as I feel mine and let go of expecting him to be any different.
I think of John and how I feel about him, I feel both sides of the truth. I choose to let go of the belief that John is selfish. I’ll deal with him from now on with an open heart and a clear mind.
A belief about one self
The belief: I’m a lazy procrastinator.
My truth: I missed out on investing in ABC company because I waited too long to research it. I wake up late and I keep putting off house cleaning. I didn’t finish the photography course. And I haven’t looked into my finances for over three months.
The world’s truth: When I missed out on investing in ABC, I had more funds available to invest later in XYZ, which I did without resistance. I don’t wake up late all the time, I woke up early for months when I needed to. Maybe I’m not motivated, but it doesn’t look like I’m lazy. I also clean the house more than I realize. I looked into my journal and noticed that I’ve been doing daily light cleaning, which is not bad at all. I’ve also been reducing my possessions, which means less cleaning is required. As for the photography course, it’s obviously not a priority, I’ve completed way more courses than the ones I haven’t completed. It’s possible that photography isn’t for me. I feel I’m pretty conscientious when it comes to living within my means. It’s possible that I haven’t looked at my finances because I’m overwhelmed. Also I’ve paid my bills on time, and I’ve been keeping an eye on my bank balances, so I’m not completely oblivious to finances.
Acceptance and letting go: I realize that I made mistakes and missed out on opportunities. At this point I choose to learn from my mistakes and let them go. I’ve also decided to let go of wanting to learn photography and focus on fewer things. I accept that I’m not consistently waking up early, and that’s okay, I appreciate the freedom that comes with not having to wake up at a certain time. I feel that I’m a doer more times than I’m a procrastinator. I choose to let go of identifying as a procrastinator, and embrace doing the best I can.
I hope the hypothetical examples were helpful. The same approach can be used to let go of beliefs about life in general (e.g. life is not fair, resources are scarce, the world is a dangerous place).
Letting go fully may not happen after one session—especially for deep childhood beliefs. So you might need to do more than a few sessions to feel that you completely let go.
But please know that every time you cast doubt on an old belief by finding opposing views that can be equally true will loosen up the old patterns. And while you may not feel any different right away, you will change—one tiny shift at a time.
The absolute truth is something we may never fully know. We mostly get to see and experience one side of a situation. We don’t need to allow our one-sidedness to clutter the mind with darkness and negativity that hold us hostage. I invite you to embrace the fullness of the truth, and set yourself free.