Resilience Hack #3: Carry out a mental declutter

This hack activates resilience by focusing on insight (managing your emotional world) and acceptance (improving the relationship you have with yourself).


The Japanese have a word for it: KonMari. A discipline of tidying our belongings so that we keep ‘only those things that speak to the heart, and discard items that no longer spark joy’. This simple method has sparked a revolution in choosing what to keep and what to discard in our homes. Why not use the same philosophy for self-care? Hack #3 results in a mental declutter – it provides an opportunity to clear out the equivalent of those long-forgotten boxes in the attic of the mind, remove psychological cobwebs and vacuum away your emotional dust bunnies. The objective of today’s hack is to keep what brings you joy 😎, and discard those memories, feelings, judgements and expectations that bring you down 😔.


Start tidying now!


  1. Mind your language. The first step in your mental cleanse requires you to stop talking to yourself as if you are deficient or stupid. A quick ‘cleanse’ is to drop the ‘Should’ statements. Should talk = guilt speech. Another simple declutter is to drop ‘judgy’, critical self-talk. You’d never say to your best friend, ‘Geez you’re stupid!’, ‘Can’t you do anything right?!’ So why use that kind of language to describe yourself. Be your own BFF – speak to yourself as you would your closest friends.
  2. Embrace honesty: Today you are going to choose a time to ‘shadow yourself’. Remember psychological distancing? This exercise takes that hack to the max! Throughout this exercise you will take the role of your coach and observe your own behavior. Choose a time when you are interacting with people – friends or co-workers and make a note of what you notice. How did you speak? When did you talk? Did you pick up on any particular body language? Then, as your coach, what feedback would you give yourself? What do you need to stop, start or continue to do? Remember to provide feedback with compassion!
  3. Attention Declutter: Resilience means we change mindless automatic responses to more mindful deliberate choices. Time to take stock. Whatis preventing you being fully present or driving you to distraction? Take this brief survey to identify the cause of your attention deficit. Once you know your triggers you can manage them. For example, perhaps you get bored quickly and your attention wanders – one antidote is to use the 15/5 method. 15 minutes of productive, focused work, followed by a ‘reward’ of 5 minutes ‘play’ (walk; stretch; surf). Alternatively you might suffer from constant interruption. This might be caused by a colleague or your own self-talk. A way to deal with the former is to take control of your boundaries and communicate a polite, firm ‘no’. For the latter try psychological distancing. If you feel particularly ambitious try tracking the distraction. This means you channel your inner Sherlock Holmes and reflect on ‘why’ you are distracted – FOMO? Guilt? Tracking distractions take considerable emotional literacy as you need to balance discovery (what is causing my attention deficit) with distance (not becoming how you feel).
  4. The emotional detox: it might not be news to you that you can catch other people’s emotions, but it might surprise you to know you can store or hold on to them for a considerable length of time. An emotional detox is where you let go of the frustration, anger or resentment that actually belongs to a co-worker, friend or loved one. If you often finish the day depleted, angry or annoyed take a moment to do an emotional detox. This means finding a quiet place where you can do an emotional body scan. What are you feeling; where are you feeling it; who does this emotion really belong to. For example, I arrive home and am snippy with my partner. I’m not sure ‘why’ I feel out of sorts so I excuse myself for 5 minutes and do an emotional body scan. I discover my stomach is tense and I feel angry. I remember that over lunch, Bill, my colleague was venting about a meeting he had with a friend of mine. I ‘caught’ Bill’s anger and ‘stored’ it physically. By reflecting on this chain of cause and effect I was able to give the anger back to its rightful owner.

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