Skill #47: Do Some Spring Cleaning

I get the bug every year about this time. The Spring Cleaning Bug. The pillow that falls in my face every time I open the linen closet, the pillow I would so casually crunch back onto a shelf without even a second thought, that pillow falling in my face, as of yesterday, caused groaning and cursing. Monday, when I couldn’t find the spice I wanted, I nearly dumped the whole spice drawer on the floor and started over again. Or that closet where I have extra picture frames, tools, tape, fabric, suddenly is unbearable to me. I walk around the house muttering under my breath about how much I hate that closet and how I seem to be the only person capable of cleaning out closets or keeping them organized. My husband usually pretends he doesn’t hear me muttering because if I am muttering I am not particularly rational or articulate. I start fantasizing about taking days off from work to clean out closets. I would call in sick, except I am the boss, and I don’t pay myself for sick days. Or spring cleaning days.

When you are not sure where to begin your spring cleaning, begin where you see the most dirt.

Cleaning out the unnecessary and re-ordering the necessary is a good thing, and I encourage you to do just that. But spring cleaning is not just for homes and offices. It is a good time to do some spring cleaning in our psyches, in our relationships, and in our marriages as well. Is there something that has been bothering you, the metaphorical falling pillow that you’ve been able to ignore but that will inevitably make you blow your stack one of these days? Or is there something that you walk around muttering about that really does need some attention?

If you are like me at all, you might spin around in circles wondering where to begin. Here’s a suggestion. When you are not sure where to begin your spring cleaning, begin where you see the most dirt.

Spring Clean Your Thoughts: Are you in a negative thinking pattern? Is the glass half empty all the time? Are you hearing critical and judgmental thoughts inside your head? With a little mindfulness and some accountability, you can clean up your thinking. Catch your negative thought and replace it with a more optimistic one. If your inner voice is judgmental, toward another or toward yourself, replace that thought with one of compassion, grace, and perhaps even mercy. file000386286733One year a client and I created a visual reminder to help rid herself of her inner critic. Every time she heard herself think or say a negative comment about herself, she wrote it on a slip of paper and put it in an opaque box. Her mantra was, “This thought is no longer a part of me.” Then on another slip of paper she wrote an antidote statement which she placed on her refrigerator. The process might have gone something like this: “I am so fat. I just can’t lose this baby weight and I can’t stand myself.” (This went on a slip and into an opaque box.) “I have just given birth to a beautiful, healthy baby. My body is amazing and I will treat it with the respect it deserves.” (This went on the refrigerator.) She reported filling the box very quickly the first week, after which she burned the papers in the fireplace. The next week the box was much less full. At the end of the month she was barely filling the box. She was reading and speaking aloud the positive statements on the refrigerator and cutting new pathways in her brain.

Cleanse Your Heart: Oh the yuck we carry around in our hearts. The unforgiveness. The desire for revenge. The hate. The shame. The fear. The disappointments. Our hearts are a great source of healing and energy, yet so often they are clogged with toxic emotions. Cleaning out our hearts is hard but worthy work. It may be the most important work you can do. If you need help with this, seek out a clergy person or a good therapist who isn’t afraid of spiritual issues. Practice forgiveness. Practice expressing gratitude and appreciations. It takes practice. And accountability.

Dust Off Your Relationships: Here at LiM2 we have written eight blogs about relationships skills. We know that the most serious problems in marriage, the ones labeled by John Gottman as The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse need to be addressed as early as possible in a relationship: Criticism, Defensiveness, Stonewalling, and Contempt. Try weeding these out of your relationships. If you can’t do it alone, ask for help.   Toxic relationships damage us on so many levels.

DSC_0113Wash off Your Play Gear: Play! Play alone. Play with friends. Play with your lover. Research shows that play is a completely different state of being. Playing together changes our brain chemistry, opens our hearts and accesses parts of ourselves and each other that are unavailable at other times. The German-Lutheran in me knows how to work and I can always find another work project that needs my time and attention. But playing is not an activity that should be low on my priority list. Or yours. A client said to me recently that she needed to “invest in play”. Amen. Invest in play.

Invest in play.

Rid Your Imagination Of Cobwebs: Your creative energy comes from the same place in your psyche as your spiritual energy. When we stop engaging the world creativity and spirituality, we feel quite dead inside. And bored. And boring. IMG_0632What are your dreams? What are you hoping for? Start taking steps to make those things happen. You can do something as simple as putting on some music and dancing around the house. Or you could make some music. Or some jewelry. Or write a poem. Or plan a great surprise for your lover. Or finger paint. Or stack stones. Or dream a new garden into being. Or…..the possibilities, of course, are endless.

Your creative energy comes from the same place in your psyche as your spiritual energy. Click To Tweet

I hope your Spring cleaning goes well, whether it is in your home, your soul, or in your relationships. Good luck.


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