Northeast Wisconsin
  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • May 2014
Written by  Phyllis Kasper, Ph.D.

Clearing mental clutter

In the spring, we clean out the closets and the garage and clear the old twigs and leaves from the lawn. While we’re at it, what about clearing out the mental closet? There is a lot to be gained by starting to clear out old beliefs, attitudes and habits one at a time. You’ll be amazed at how much can be gained with this simple procedure.

Take a little time to reflect on small changes you could start to make today to be happier and healthier. You might already be attuned to something you could change, like drinking healthy green tea instead of coffee. Or, if the idea of tea makes you say, “Yuck, I love my coffee,” bring the coffee down to just one per day. Make it the tastiest organic coffee you can find at the right time of day so that it is a real treat to savor.

You might already know that your episodes of road rage add to your own stress level and don’t get other people to drive any better. Letting go of road rage will make you a happier and safer driver. A few years ago, I noticed that my habit of hoping that guy that cut me off would land in the ditch set me up for a negative day in general. I would walk into work feeling indignant, self-righteous and looking for a fight. So I replaced the negative habit with a short prayer for that wild driver. Just a little Buddhist prayer: “May he be healthy, happy and safe from all harm.” It still doesn’t change the other driver, but it takes me into work or my home in a better mood.

Speaking of road rage, did you know that after 9/11, serious incidents of road rage greatly increased in the New York area? Therapists trained in energy psychology techniques volunteered to do free workshops and therapy on road rage. The main techniques used were TFT (Thought Field Therapy) and EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). Both of these involve tapping or gently rubbing on a few of your acupuncture points and are very effective. The idea is to be prepared, so that that you can use a short, simple version of a technique that won’t get in the way of driving. One way to prepare is to learn to find the “tender spot” on the left side of your chest. Before getting into the car, learn to find it by pressing firmly with two fingers all around the left side of your chest. You’ll probably have no trouble finding a spot that is more sensitive, if not, just rub in a large circle. Either way, as you start to feel angry, rub firmly in a circle on the left side of your chest and tell yourself that you fully and completely love and accept yourself with all your problems and limitations. It’s not about the other driver; it’s about you feeling okay with yourself in a stressful situation.

If you feel clueless as to what small change would make a difference, dare to ask someone else what they notice about you. Another approach would be to simply observe yourself throughout a day and notice what habits could be changed. A common problem might be using words like “always” and “never” against others. Make the change as an experiment and see what happens. This reminds me of the case of the man who made friends with his wife’s cat. He made a strategic decision to make his wife happier and decided to make friends with her cat without telling her. The result was all three of them being much more relaxed at home and his wife feeling that he truly loved her. Experiment and see what happens. You have nothing to lose but a bad habit. 

Dr. Phyllis Kasper has expertise in anxiety disorders, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, peak achievement, biofeedback, hypnosis, EMDR, cultural diversity and pain management. She can help you use personal empowerment to unleash your best you! Call her at 920-693-2250. Visit for a free download of a hypnosis sample. She is available at Healthy Connections, 510 E. Wisconsin Ave. in Appleton, 920-257-4601.

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