Life is busy and crowded. Constant messages, advertisements, texts, emails, problems, phone calls, things to learn, another social media platform, the endless tyranny of the to-do list, work, relationships – it can all get rather ‘shouty’ and lead to a lack of perspective and serious overwhelm. Your mind can whirl and lose it’s ability to switch off. This ‘loud mind’ can cause insomnia, stress and a distorted perspective and, if left unchecked for long enough, manifest as persistent anxiety and burnout.
Not only does ‘living in overwhelm & distraction’ disrupt our daily wellbeing but it also seriously hinders our chances of success. It’s no secret that the key to success is focus. If we are snarled up in a maelstrom of insignificant, useless ‘busyness’ and continual fire-fighting it hampers, or at the very least slows down and limits, our chances of fully realising our dreams.
So how to not only survive, but thrive in a world where we are drowning in information yet, far too often, starving for peace of mind and clarity?
Well we have to learn to ignore much, much, more whatever isn’t useful, helpful, important or fails to make us happy!
This is not to suggest we live in some ignorant, self-absorbed bubble where we shutter down to the very real pain and crisis in the world and do nothing, more that we are much more mindfully selective in that which we allow into our consciousness to hijack our finite resources of time and energy.
Learning to ignore what is unimportant, is actually a high self-value move, as you are prioritising yourself. You are setting a firm but loving intention for yourself that you will not be buffeted around like a rudderless ship by others whims, desires, dramas and distractions. Prioritising yourself and your energy isn’t selfish, it is vital, you cannot pour from an empty cup and the less use you are to yourself ultimately the less you are to others. By ensuring that you take care of yourself first you are able to support others from a genuine place that isn’t marred by a feeling of resentful exhaustion or irritated guilt!
The benefits of mastering the superfine art of ignoring, or selective focusing, are immense. Having a less noisy mind allows the subconscious to communicate more clearly to you important intuitions and richer understandings of situations. Less mental ‘noise’ equals greater wellbeing and productivity. When your mind is quiet it can produce solutions and see wider patterns within your life so that you can learn to act from a place of deeper efficacy. What’s not to love?
Yet knowing why we need to ignore is not enough, we also need to get clear on what we need to ignore and to that end here’s my Top 6:
The endless stream of celebrity minutiae – sure it can be interesting once in a while and a bit of light-hearted relief to switch off into a bit of escapism, but this stuff has got massively out of hand. It is designed to be horribly addictive and before you know it you’ve lost hours to some kind of Trashophile internet vortex and you emerge dazed and confused with little idea of why you did it but with an in-depth knowledge of how to achieve Kim K’s waistline in under 21 days or a sneaking suspicion that Taylor Swift probably wouldn’t want you in her ‘squad’. How many more toxic, shaming yo-yoing weight loss and botched lip filler headlines can we actually stomach? Paging Captain Obvious with this one but ignore it – relentlessly.
The compulsion to compare yourself to others – get ruthless with yourself on the ‘compare & despair’, we live in an abundant Universe – one person’s success does not detract from you realising the potential of yours, use envy as a window into a desire not a reason to deflate like a balloon in the presence of others who are where you would ‘like to be’.
What other people ‘might’ think of you – unless they are in your immediate circle chances are they probably don’t spend much time thinking about you at all! Of course it is human nature to want to be liked and accepted but not to the detriment of living in a self-constructed people-pleasing prison. Again, it is helpful to talk to and get the opinion and advice of others, not however if it is as at the expense of your own intuition. Even if others are ‘thinking’ of you, just as you are entitled to think whatever you want, so too are they, what others think of you cannot change who you are or what you are worth, unless you allow it too. Nobody will ever be as invested in your life as you, only you know what is best for you and that entails learning from your own choices, taking responsibility for them and if you do fail, at least you can learn from it full-heartedly, as opposed to blaming another This is your life to live and ultimately you are the person who needs to approve of your own choices, view other’s confirmation as an additional bonus.
Everyone else’s endless ‘stuff’ – I’m talking about drama here, of which there is also an abundance in the world which is very easy to get sucked into, and depleted by. Sometimes people don’t want to change their situation, they just want to talk about it, endlessly. There is a stark difference between this and the genuine support of others in life, therefore it’s important to pay attention to how you feel after spending time in an individuals company and if you are continually drained it’s a red flag from your subconscious that this situation is costing too much. In the words of Jeff Brown: ‘boundaries, don’t leave home without them’.
Your old stories about yourself – we actually fear what has ‘already’ happened, your subconscious is your inner protector and works on a ‘once bitten, forever shy’ basis so it can be really helpful to do the necessary inner work to let go of the old stories and accompanying negative self belief. It is also useful to acknowledge that whilst you cannot change what has already happened you are stronger and wiser as a result of having survived these challenges. The benefits of looking forward rather than back, of focusing on what you do want to happen and how you can support yourself in that, are enormous. With the 20/20 vision of hindsight we can see that often when we thought things were falling apart, they were actually falling into place. Build your trust in yourself and do what you need to do to kick that negative self-image to the kerb, for good.
The stuff you are powerless over – concerns can be split into three categories: firstly – the things you are in control of – i.e. what you choose to consume, who you choose to spend time with, what you choose to spend your time doing, secondly – the things you have some influence over such as a team decision at work and thirdly the things you are powerless over – e.g. someone else’s behaviour. Spending too much time trying to control, rather than influence, category 2 or any time trying to control category 3 is nothing short of crazy-making. Conserve your time and energy for what you can change, don’t force anything, allow others their own growth trajectory by staying in your own business as much as you can, do what you can to the best of your ability then allow it to be. Do this and you will reap dividends. The most powerful way to make a change in the world is to start with yourself and move outwards from there.
In essence learning to ignore what is not important is all about you deeply supporting yourself and allowing you to cleave to deeper wellbeing and peace. It’s about you creating space to access your own highly individual blueprint for success and live the most magnificent life possible.
I will end with a quote by the indomitable Bruce Lee who sums it up flawlessly: “It is not a daily increase, but a daily decrease. Hack away at the inessentials”
To your success!