Last weekend, I very nearly fetched my Geraniums out of the greenhouse where they’ve been hibernating all Winter, but chose to leave them there for a bit longer and I am pleased I did so as we’ve had a couple of frosty mornings since! It is almost Spring and time for that annual ritual known as spring cleaning. I have rearranged my wardrobes, got rid of old clothes, tidied my drawers so that they no longer look like an offering to the God of rag and bone men and the massive pile of paperwork that I usually sit next to in my office has gone! It’s that time of year whereby many of us spring clean in our homes, offices and anywhere else there is clutter.
Today I’m writing about a different kind of Spring clean though. I wonder how many of us conduct an emotional spring clean with the same degree of vigour that we apply when we de-clutter our environment? Yes indeed, Spring is also a great time to get emotionally organised following Winter and the start of the year, a great time to get some clarity about the rest of the year ahead and make sure you are on track to make it as great a year as you planned when it began.
Think of when your computer or phone slows down and you have to purge some of the files on the hard drive for the system to run at optimal performance; I’m talking about doing the same thing with your mind and existing emotional content. When we hold onto anger, resentment and guilt it does not do us any good at all – we suffer as a result. Likewise when we worry about and fear things that haven’t happened yet. This gets in the way of what we are doing right now. That’s why spring cleaning is so beneficial, it enables some clarity, some space and an opportunity to feel rejuvenated, energised and inspired again.
So how exactly does one go about having an emotional spring clean and get mentally and emotionally organised and rejuvenated? Grab your mental mop and feather duster, because here are some ways to do just that….
1. Clean Up The Future:
To let go of worry and fear, we often benefit from more trust and acceptance. Trust things are happening just as they should. Recognise that breakdowns can lead to breakthroughs. Obstacles we face will allow us to learn, grow and evolve. Consider problems to be challenges and opportunities to grow, rather than catastrophes to worry or get anxious about.
Write down one thing you are facing today that you are worried about or scares you. Can you reframe it? How can you turn it around and see it instead as an opportunity for growth?
Read more about this here: Learn To Enjoy Life’s Problems.
2. Clean Up The Past:
Let go of the past through forgiveness. Forgive yourself and others. Begin to clean out anger, resentment, or guilt to make more room for an happy heart and open mind. Clearing out the negative thoughts will be easier when positive feelings give you the strength to let go.
Write down someone you need to forgive or something you need to forgive yourself for. How would it feel to finally let it go? List one action you can take today towards forgiveness. Remember that forgiveness is not condoning what other people did, it is about no longer carrying it around in a way that effects you detrimentally.
will help you to do this if you need additional assistance or struggle with this concept. Concentrate on the other points here for now. Here is a great article to help you deal with your past: Owning Your Life and Being Responsible For Who You Are Today.
3. Clean Out Mental Clutter:
This is at the heart of an emotional Spring clean. Our brains are not storage devices. They seek patterns and figure out solutions. When we write things down to get them out of our heads, we begin to recognise the clutter we hold onto.
Take 10 minutes to write a list of all the stuff you have in your head. Cross off the things you can’t control and circle three priorities. Schedule these in your calendar and have a plan of action for which you can deal with it effectively.
Imagine that by writing and taking action, you are freeing up space in your mind. Space that is now going to be spent being creative, enjoying life and being productive towards your main goals in life.
4. Commit To Pruning:
Prune your way to an emotional spring clean! What if this Spring, you gave yourself permission to lose the guilt about not doing it all? Could you say “no” to anything that isn’t a priority or that doesn’t fit your values any longer? Can you scratch off some things from your to-do list? Are some of your goals less relevant to who and how you are today that could be scratched off too? Can you prune your expectations of yourself to make space for revitalizing your energy for the things you really are sure you wish to commit to?
At the same time, let’s commit to being thankful for all the things we have made a purposeful choice to keep in our lives and express some gratitude about what we have. You can read this article to help you do that: Evidence Suggests That Being Materialistic Could Be Making You Unhappy – But Here’s The Antidote to That.
Relaxation facilitates an emotional spring clean. When you are relaxed and as a result of relaxing deeply, your choices and subsequent actions will spring into life from a place of objectivity, truth and well-being, and not as a natural offspring of anything negative or problematic – the Dalai lama, in his book ‘Destructive Emotions’ teaches that you ought not make life decisions or choices when you are ravaged by emotions such as jealousy or anger as you’ll not be able to make objective decisions; your actions will be driven by negative emotion and you may regret that later on.
Deep, progressive relaxation retrains the mind to use it’s natural ability by creating a beautifully relaxed body, mind, and emotions so that this work (of making good decisions, being productive and inspired etc) can continue, unhindered, in the stillness and continue thereafter by contributing to a more relaxed attitude. The magic of deep, progressive relaxation is that you awaken with a refreshed mind, body, and spirit-full of focus and energy.
Here are some ideas of how to do progressive relaxation while in a comfortable position for a good period of time:
a) Use your internal dialogue and simply tell yourself that each part of your body is relaxing. For example “my toes are relaxing deeper… and now my ankles… moving into my lower legs…” and so on.
b) As you work your way through your body, you may like to use a colour or light or imagined warming sensation and spread that through the muscles and imagine the colour (ideally one you associate with relaxing) spreading through the muscles as you reach each part of your body.
c) Additional cognitions. Richard Bandler uses the word “soften” as he relaxes parts of the body. He focuses on each muscle and then says “soften” as he works through, you might like to do the same.
d) You may imagine a relaxing sound moving through your body.
e) You may imagine the muscles limp, loose, dormant; maybe like a loose rubber band, or a rag doll, or whatever else you can imagine to indicate the relaxation spreading. I learned a great technique from a hypnotherapy trainer who suggested imagining the body as a candle and as the candle softened and got warm and liquid-like, so the muscles of the body got warm and softened and so on.
Ideally, use a combination of these elements. Bask in the relaxation you create, enjoy it and enjoy this time as well spent.
Here’s an article to help with this further: Using Self-Hypnosis For Specialist Relaxation.
To aid your emotional Spring clean, use mindfulness, use some solitary stillness, use some breathing exercises, just get to spend some time meditating in one way or another. It’ll help neutralize any problematic thoughts, it has a strong evidence base to suggest you’ll feel calmer and invigorated, and it’ll help you to put things into their true and correct perspective. That is, you’ll be able to let go of what you no longer need hanging around in your head.
One of the best ways to clear our mind is through deep meditation, visualising and idealising the way we want things to be.
Here is an article with some guidelines on how to use mental imagery to create positive future outcomes, even though it is aimed at sports, it can be appolied to any area of your life: Helpful Hints and Ideas For Using Mental Imagery To Enhance Your Sporting Performance.
You can also visualise mental clutter; thoughts, ideas, busy-ness and rumination, for example and imagine that they are ‘things’ and then let them float away, or cast them into a cast iron brazier and reduce them to dust or flush them away. Here are a couple of self-hypnosis techniques for letting go of unwanted thoughts, if you have a busy mind, you’ll love these processes, they’ll fuel your emotional spring clean:
a) True Letting Go Using Self-Hypnosis – Like Leaves On A Pond.
b) Torching, Flames, Burning and Getting Fired Up Using Hypnosis.
8. Simplify Where You Can:
Consider an overall emotional Spring clean strategy to simplify your life. Consider many of the points made here and put together a plan. Reflect on what gives you quality in your life instead of just quantity or more to do. Think about what energises you when you focus upon it, and focus upon it!
Likewise, overthinking or ruminating can create more clutter, here is a great article to help you as far as your emotional spring clean is concerned:
How To Stop Rumination and Overthinking Being Your Downfall.
9. Use Self-Hypnosis:
Of course! Here is a self-hypnosis process to help you have an emotional Spring clean. Enjoy:
Using Self-Hypnosis To Have an Emotional Spring Clean – there are quite a few other self-hypnosis processes included on that page also.
When it comes to having an emotional and mental Spring clean, the small steps you take each day can make a HUGE difference in your life as well as having a great big clearout all at once. Make it a work in progress as Spring draws closer and you’ll feel lighter and more focused when Spring is truly underway (and I finally get to bring my Geraniums out of the greenhouse!).