Spring Cleaning (Part 3)

Okay.  I’ll flatter myself for a moment and think that you’ve read my previous posts.  Perhaps you’ve changed which products you use to clean, and maybe you’ve even started to declutter a small corner of your home.  But there’s yet another dimension to this idea of spring cleaning, and this one is by far the most difficult: your mind.

We all have beliefs.  I’m not talking about religion.  We have beliefs that range from “Marriage isn’t stable” to “I always get what I want” to “I’ll never succeed at this” and everything in-between.  Some of these beliefs are from external influences, and some are from our own experiences.  Some of them are true, but many of them may not be.  Of those that are true, there may be many that we wish were not.

So, I challenge you: pick one or two of your beliefs that you no longer wish for your life, and clean them out!  Get out of that relationship, take that new class you’ve been wanting to, learn that you can manage money, love yourself!

I want to offer a few exercises that may help to articulate your beliefs, and whether or not you wish to keep them.  These are all adapted from books by the marvelous author Louise Hay.  If any of this resonates with you, you may want to pick up a copy of one of her books – You Can Heal Your Life is an excellent place to start.

1. If “I hate myself,” “I’m not good enough,” “I’m not worth it,”or “I’ll never be loved,” are thoughts that you have or beliefs that you hold, this is the first thing that must go!  Do you really want to go through life hating yourself?  Has it helped you?  Has it gotten you the life you want?  Are you enjoying the life you have?  Louise Hay says that you can make incredible changes in your life simply by looking into the mirror and saying, “[name], I love you.”  Try it.  I know that when I did, I found it hard to do.  Say to yourself throughout the day, “I love myself.”  Just try it.  If hating yourself isn’t helping you at all, then maybe, just maybe a little love might make a difference.

2. Eliminate the word should from your life.  Finish the following sentence with as many things as you like. “I should…”

When I make this list, it looks something like this:

I should:

…do the dishes

…vacuum my room

…go to bed at a decent hour

…read books instead of surfing the internet

…exercise more

“Should” has negative connotations.  If we are saying we “should” do something, we are probably not doing the thing we should do.  Therefore, the thing we are doing instead of the thing we should be doing is bad.  Very bad.  And there’s a sense of shame, too, an underlying thought that says “If only I were a better person I would be doing this.”

So, take that list.  Replace the phrase “I should” with the phrase “If I really wanted to, I could…”

Let’s look at some items from my list with both versions side by side.

I should exercise more.

If I really wanted to, I could exercise more.

I should go to bed at a decent hour.

If I really wanted to, I could go to bed at a decent hour.

For me, the second version helps motivate me.  It eliminates the sense of shame, the thought “I’m a terrible person because I’m not doing this” and pushes me straight to the thought, “How can I make this happen?”

3. This last activity is a bit more time-consuming.  Take several sheets of paper.  Across the top of each, put a different heading.  Here are some of the headings I suggest, although you are free to find others: Women, Men, Love, Relationships, Work, Money, Health.  Under each heading, write down what you think.  Give yourself a few days to do this.  I was shocked to find that under the “Money” heading, I wrote “I will never have any” and “I have no idea what to do with it or how to get it.”  This was a major clue to me that I needed to learn more about managing money.  I started a spreadsheet where I tracked all the money I made and all the money I spent.  It was a great exercise for me – and just knowing where my money was coming from and where it was going made me feel stronger and more independent.

Maybe you’ll find that you believe work is tedious and not something you can find joy in.  Maybe you think that great health is out of your reach.  Maybe you’re totally healthy and balanced.  I don’t know.  Chances are, you have at least one or two negative thought patterns.  I challenge you to identify them and their causes (my negative thoughts about money came from hearing society and family members tell me constantly that someone in my career field wouldn’t make it financially), and to eliminate them from your thoughts.  Replace them with positive, loving thoughts toward yourself.

4. Listen to this wonderful sermon given by Father Greg Schenden of Holy Trinity Church in Georgetown, Washington D.C.  It’s from Independence Day, and he talks about freedom. Listen to it and ask yourself “Do I feel free in my life?  What is holding me back? Where do I feel stuck or trapped?”  Just food for thought.

Happy Spring, and happy cleaning!

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