A recent visit to the dentist didn’t go as well as I hoped. I expected a routine cleaning combined with an “A” from the dentist for maintaining proper dental hygiene. After doing an X-ray of my teeth, things took a turn when the doctor inquired about my flossing habits. I sensed there was something alarming from my X-Ray results. When I responded with, “hardly”, she proceeded to give me the results of the X-ray. She mentioned the word “calculus” of which I only knew from when I did mathematics. I discovered that just like in school, calculus is a problem in dentistry. Calculus is the buildup of plaque which eventually causes gingivitis or gum disease. If unchecked it can lead to loss of teeth. My concern grew as I listened to her words. The good news from the dentist was that the condition was at infancy and reversible with consistent flossing.
After an intense session of cleaning and bleeding, I left the dentist’s office vowing to floss as recommended. The hardest thing about flossing for me is doing it consistently. I need to fit it into my daily routine like taking a shower. I can openly tell you that fear of losing my teeth is now the driving force behind my regular flossing schedule. If the dentist’s goal was to scare me into flossing, she succeeded.
As I battle to continue flossing, it has occurred to me that there is another type of flossing that’s crucial to successful living. I call it mental flossing. It’s as simple to do as dental flossing but when we lack the intentionality that drives consistency, it can cause adverse effects to our mental output similar to plaque between the teeth.
I was convinced that as long as I brushed my teeth and used mouthwash, my teeth would remain healthy. Unknowingly, small bacteria from food particles between my teeth were forming and mounting an attack on my teeth. Only through flossing can I stage a preemptive strike against this assault.
Everyday we are mentally exposed to a myriad of things. With access to information carried in our palms, pockets, and purses we are not lacking in quantity of information. Information overload is the new reality today. We are equally not lacking in storage capacity. Research shows that the brain’s memory storage capacity is around 2.5 terabytes. That’s equivalent to one million GB! What we lack is the ability to disseminate and store quality information. The probability of “mental plaque” is high. We can refer to mental plaque as thoughts and experiences that lodge deep in our mind and if left unchecked corrupts creativity, fogs clarity, and disrupts the overall conditioning of our mind. It’s caused when we allow our past to hold our future hostage with negative, polluted thinking that spills over to negative self-talk. Conversations such as, “I’ll never make it, I always mess things up, I can never do anything right, I never have enough time, I am a bad spouse, I don’t have what it takes, life sucks, or I will never succeed” compromise negative self- talk. Here are three things I recommend for mental flossing that can fit into your daily routine to help remove mental plaque.
- L.I.G (Let It Go) – Let’s be honest, letting go can be hard. We consistently play back words people said or things they did that hurt but this only serves to magnify them, creating grudges while seeking opportunity for payback. Holding a grudge is similar to holding your breath. Hold your breath and try walking. You won’t get very far before you need to breathe. Holding grudges will cause mental paralysis. Agree to let go of worry, mistakes, regrets, and bitterness. They occupy valuable space and consume too much brain power that can be used to form and store ideas or capture significant moments. Let it go and free up some memory.
- T.I.O. (Talk It Out) – I have experienced first hand the power of being transparent and sharing burdens with others. People connect more through vulnerabilities. One of the greatest pleasures we seek in life is to be heard. When we talk it out we get a chance to express before we explode. It brings healing, peace, and keeps us off the ledge. A close friend or spouse can be a safe place to open up to about what’s eating at you before it consumes you. Talking it out is also sharing positive words and thoughts to encourage others. You will discover that as you share, you deepen your relationships. Prayer works great as well. I have discovered that talking to God is a good place to start. As a singer said, “Take it to the Lord in prayer.”
- W.I.D. (Write It Down) – With so much dependence on visual aids which I love using to enhance learning, writing has somewhat become a lost art. Writing down your feelings and thoughts in a journal has a way of giving you expressive freedom that you may not find elsewhere. Journaling is a therapeutic way of relieving your mind of weighty stuff. Attaching words to feelings, lowers agitation. Writing brings order to your thoughts and can provide a fresh perspective to a familiar problem. Additionally, journaling creates room for reflection which is a key part to the process of growth. Who knows, your journal entries can turn into a song, blog, or even a book to help others who are facing similar circumstances and feel stuck. Consider this: what you write now could be the very words that impact someone’s life in the future.
- R. I. U. (Read It Up) – Reinforce positive thoughts by reading material that will infuse your passion, build your faith, and inspire your mind. Reading is feeding. By reading, your mind, which is one of your most powerful assets, receives proper nutrition. Reading opens your mind to new possibilities through paradigm shifting moments. A paradigm shift is an “aha” moment. You can start this by reading a page or a chapter a day. Keep your mind fed.
I am inviting you to join me for a 7 day mental flossing challenge. Daily, use one, two, three, or all of the above techniques to floss your mind and maintain optimum mental capacity. If you are in, let me know by commenting to this blog with the words, “I am in” and let’s do this together. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to update me on your progress. I would love to hear from you and I promise to reply. I am also interested in learning other mental flossing techniques; please share in the comments section.