This is the time when many of us think about the renewal of spring. This means the ripping apart of the house looking for dust bunnies and old items to get rid of. It's a smart and healthy thing to think about having a cleaner home - but did you ever stop to think that this could also be a great opportunity to apply a similar process to your head and the way you think. An orderly clean physical environment is important for good health and an enjoyable life, but an orderly and supportive mental/emotional environment is even more important!
Here are some strategies for doing your internal spring-cleaning.
- Ask "Do I still need this?"
There are lots of things we do or think that have just become habits. They were useful at some time in our lives but may no longer be necessary, or worse, be holding us back now. It's always a good idea to see if things still fit in your life the way you need them to. If they don't, give yourself permission to let them go and try something different. It's important to replace them or else you'll default to your old ways when you're not paying attention.
- Look for hidden dirt (damaging beliefs).
When you're cleaning, it's not enough to get the obvious dirt. You need to find the hidden stuff too. This is also true for the way you think. We all have things we do or think that's based on some faulty beliefs. These are so deep that we often think of them as "true" and "just the way things are" if we are even aware of them at all. You need to ask yourself WHY you think or do the things you do and see what the supporting belief/philosophy is that's driving that. I recently realized that I have trust issues. Once I realized that, a lot of my behavior and way of seeing the world made sense to me. Now I get to work on doing and seeing things differently.
- Remember it takes energy to keep it clean.
After you clean your house, you have to maintain the clean. The same is true for changing the way you think. Once you make the decision to change something, you then have to remind yourself daily (even hourly or several times a minute sometimes) of the new way you now think and behave. Be patient and gentle with yourself. It's not steady improvement. It's more like a baby learning to walk. You're going to fall down a lot, but if you stick with it and don't beat yourself up you'll be established in your new way after a while.
- Expect chaos.
If someone comes to your house when you're in the middle of cleaning, it's going to look like a chaotic mess. When you're cleaning your head it's no different. Expect to feel a bit chaotic and out of sorts. Your relationships and routines will also be in flux. Even the positive new stuff you're doing is going to feel "weird and wrong" but stick with it. It feels worse before it feels better - but it will eventually feel better!
- You don't have to do it alone.
Many people ask for or hire help when they’re spring-cleaning (and/or to keep things clean). This is also a good strategy to use when you're spring-cleaning your life. A good professional that you trust and feel safe with can help you make and maintain the change you’re looking for.
I'm doing two online classes coming up in the next couple of months to help with this. One is on beating your burnout, stress, and depression. The other is improving your communication and relationships. My team and I also provide one-on-one support if that’s more your thing. If you would like information on these please send me an email (info@DrGanz.com) with "class" in the subject line and ask to be put on the list for information. You can also call my office and leave a message 780-428-5433 (LIFE).
And remember, you don't have to wait until spring to do some “cleaning”. You get to improve you're life any time you want. So, good luck with your "spring-cleaning".
By Dr. Ganz Ferance