Spring Cleaning

Published in Womeninc, February 2008
by Diana Gabriel

“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the life that is waiting for us.” –Joseph Campbell

This is a time of year when many of you spend time pouring over seed catalogs and gardening magazines, dreaming and planning for the next season. Others dream and plan for that summer vacation get away. But how many of us take the time to reflect on where we are in life, dreaming and planning where we want to be and what we need to do to get there? Many people live on auto pilot, existing by default rather than being awake, intentional and in choice about their lives. But if we stay in the safe and known and that is a place of mediocrity, what price do we pay?

We all know people who stay in dead end jobs or loveless marriages. We live in spaces where we feel stressed, confused and anxious. Even the thought of leaving the boundaries of what we know can paralyze us. It takes courage to wake up and take stock of our current life situation and live intentionally and with gratitude. In making that choice, it is possible to experience a peace and calm we never imagined.

So while you are doing your other types of planning, think about the following: What do you need to let go of? Why is it hard to let go of things that no longer work? What would it take to do a deep spring cleaning, from the inside out, with your entire life?

Start by examining what inspires you, what your needs and values are, and what gives your life meaning and purpose. Look at which relationships serve you in a reciprocal manner and which do not, and consider which engagements, involvements, and assignments are fulfilling and life-affirming, and which are empty busy-work.

Then go through everything – your belongings, attitudes, ideas, obligations, commitments, habits, goals, dreams – asking, does this still fit? Is this aligned with my current lifestyle? Is it flattering? Pleasing? Does it continue to serve and nourish me, or does it drain my energy? Perhaps there is a self-limiting or destructive pattern that needs to be released, or maybe you feel compelled to pursue a dream that requires letting go of the work you’re currently doing. Look critically but gently at all these facets of your life, and think about what voices you have in your head that might keep you from pursuing your dreams.

The goal of this exercise is for you to identify the unnecessary “things” – physical or emotional – that you are hanging on to, that no longer serve you, and to identify what blocks there might be to you pursuing greater meaning and purpose in your life.

“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar” –Thich Nhat Hanh

Practitioners of Feng Shui teach that everything is energy, and everything brings that energy to our space. For example, a light that is burned out brings “burnt out” energy to our space, while a precious item glows with loving energy. Keeping things around you that are no longer useful, that are broken and unfixable, or dirty and disorganized blocks the flow of energy. When we do the type of thinking described above, and clear out the inessentials, we make space for ourselves to grow and expand into the void that is left, filling it instead with things that are life-giving and which provide meaning and purpose.

Sometimes we need someone objective to assist us with the sorting process. My best friend moved to a new home and is down-sizing considerably, something she finds difficult to do. She was able to accept help from several people who have gifts in this area. Even though she has been intentionally working towards this for over a year with her coach, and she knew it was the right and best move for her, she still found it easier to sort through her life “things” with another person’s support.

Change can be hard, but you don’t have to do it alone. Who might you solicit to be your advocate or champion as you make the courageous changes necessary to live a life aligned with meaning and purpose? You have a right to be surrounded by only those people, places, and things that add something positive, of value and are aligned with your greater purpose. With support and conscious choices, you can live your life just a bit larger than you are living it now.

Make it your goal to let go of a bad habit, an old resentment. Purge, clean out, throw out, refuse, release, distill and streamline all of your attachments at the same time – a deep spring cleaning of the soul that honors everything that brought you to this point, today, and allows you to create a life anew. As the things that block your perception of your best self dissipate, you will enjoy the present-day vistas that emerge! Celebrate all that is possible, and let go of the rest.

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