Can You Hear YOU Now? Five Ways To Stop The Noise

by MARLA MAJEWSKI

5/2/2012

Have you ever considered what your normal is? When I was young, the norm was me quietly playing with my dolls as my parents fought. Their fights were always in the background, like the hum of an air conditioning unit you don't hear anymore. Day after day they argued - over money, my dad drinking too much, the broken-down cars that my dad liked to buy and never fix up, the endless projects he would start and never finish. There was always some complaint coming out of my mother's mouth, just in time for my dad to execute another infraction.

My normal was chaos. I lived in a messy house with clutter and dust. My mother collected UPC codes so she could enter contests. The entire basement was filled with them. My home was filled with disrespectful arguments and piles of dusty unorganized paper.

As an adult, I worked to recreate this normal. Early on, my husband would smile and tease me saying, You want to fight with me, don't you? He could sense my invisible dukes in the air. For me, life couldn't be peaceful or relaxed because I was uncomfortable in that state. I wasn't used to it. I'd never had it. So I had to create drama. I chalked it up to being feisty.

I realized one day that my childhood normal - the meaningless noise that I spent so much energy creating -- no longer served any purpose for me. With that one evolved thought, much mental clutter left my head. For the first time, I could finally hear me clearly. I could finally be quiet enough to articulate my true beliefs and thoughts on the life I wanted to create.

The noise that drowns out our inner voice and self-knowledge isn't usually from a sledgehammer in the street outside. It can be the busyness trance of moving from one task to another (or doing three things at once) with no moments to hear yourself think. It can be physical clutter or disorganized spaces that scream chaos and confusion even if we do have a quiet moment alone. It can also be the numbing out of compulsive eating, shopping, or Web surfing.

Look for practical ways to noise-proof your life in the weeks to come. Here are five quick ways to decrease the unnecessary chaos in your life:

1) Start with physical noise - messy spaces, unorganized drawers and closets, piles of paper that you haven't looked at in weeks or months. Set a schedule. Do one room a month, one closet a weekend, one pile a day. Give away items you don't use or have purpose for anymore. Trash things that are broken, worn, missing pieces, no longer fit in your home, or have outlived its usefulness. Put items where they belong and only have one place for them. If you now discover you have 10 brushes for your daughter's hair, store eight of them away until you need them.

2) Organize your paper - determine immediately what action is needed from every piece of paper that comes into your house. Start a practice to only touch paper once or twice. So if your mail comes in walk right to the recycle bin and deposit all the paper that you will not look at, or perhaps want to look at but know you won't have time or the budget this week. If a piece of paper does not have information on it that you require for some type of action, recycle it. Pay bills that come in immediately so you don't have waste mental energy trying to remember to pay it.

3) Streamline your processes - Like businesses that save millions of dollars looking at ways to do things more efficiently, becoming more streamlined in the way you handle your daily task can result in hours of available time, less physical clutter and more peace of mind. Look at everything you do and find ways to make it better, simpler, faster, or cheaper. Change to digital subscriptions for news, books, and magazines so you no longer have those items creating physical clutter in your home. Pay bills online so you no longer have to remember postage stamps or having enough checks on hand.

4) Notice your Drama - take note of when you are trying to create chaos. Some of it is self-imposed! Step back and assess whether the chaos you are trying to create is for the situation at hand or for another reason - perhaps you lived in a constant state of conflict, instability or change growing up. If you put the need for drama aside, perhaps you will find a sense of calm you have never had.

5) Make Space - even when our lives are full of mental and physical clutter we have an ability to look into our calendar and carve some space to focus on just you. Find that 30 minutes, an hour, or a full day to slip away from the regular routine to recharge and refocus. It is in these moments where you are not staring at the loads of laundry or choking on deadlines at work that you can really hear your truth.

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