“The best way to find out what we really need is to get rid of what we don’t.” ~ Marie Kondo
Spring officially arrives on March 20th. Anybody ready? I don’t even have to look at the calendar. I know the earth is warming up when I get “spring cleaning fever”. I applied my annual, springtime urge-to-purge to my closet this year. I removed every item of clothing and spent hours trying on each piece. I made three piles: keep, get rid of and alter.
The process allowed me to finally let go of years of accumulated belongings. Some decisions were difficult, like the beautiful, dusty pink blazer that I bought when my daughter was three. She’s twenty-five. It was time. It wasn’t serving me and was taking up space in an overly crowded closet. When I was done, I felt lighter in spirit. I knew exactly what was in my closet for the first time in years. There was so much room. Deciding what to wear was simplified. The clothes now hanging in the space were ones I truly loved, fit me well and were a reflection of the woman I am today. It felt amazing!
So amazing that it got me thinking. What if I applied this same technique to my thoughts? What if I dumped all of those pesky, negative thoughts from the past on a piece of paper and had a good look at them? What if I used the same three pile criteria to my thoughts: keep, get rid of and alter? So I did.
Cleaning out my mental closet took more effort than clearing out the physical closet, but the results produced an even greater sense of freedom and clarity. I let go of the shame around a high school incidence. I didn’t stick up for myself during a “mean girl” incident and would emotionally wince whenever the memory surfaced. Nothing about this memory, or the negative thoughts surrounding it, was serving me in my life now. It was high school, for goodness sake. I would never let myself be treated like that now. This memory evoked the feeling of being “less than”. I let it go.
I went through a divorce when my children were still in grade school. I went from stay-at-home mom to working mom. This was a huge adjustment for my children. I had stockpiled a mountain of guilt about how this affected their lives. The guilt stemmed from the thought, “I wasn’t a perfect parent”. How useful was this in my present life? My children are grown. I don’t know any perfect parents, regardless of their marital status. I changed this thought to: “I did the best I could. Not baking cookies from scratch did not ruin my kids’ lives.” Phew! Altering that thought felt much better.
I kept going until my mental closet felt spacious and organized. I extracted the good, altered thoughts for a better fit and threw out any thoughts that I had outgrown or weren’t useful.
I think I’ll go buy some tulips to celebrate. Happy Spring!
Be You. No Apologies.