Springtime often inspires us to declutter our homes and yards – and exposes the cobwebs and dust bunnies that have been collecting during the winter months. It’s also a good time to consider cleaning out our mental and emotional spaces: our thoughts and feelings.
Just as it feels good to walk into an organized closet or enjoy a sparkling hardwood floor, a mental spring-cleaning can provide a boost and a sense of relief and accomplishment. Here’s a mental and emotional spring-cleaning checklist to help you get started!
- Cultivate quiet time
Plan some alone time to take an internal inventory and identify what has been cluttering your heart and mind. Meditation, prayer, hiking and yogaare excellent examples of external acts that promote internal reflection and allow time to tune in to your inner world. Take a planned break from technology and spend time visualizing how you want to feel in your life and in your relationships.
Ask yourself: What can I clear out of my heart or mind that will allow me to become a calmer, more centered person?
- Jot it in a journal
Putting pen to paper and identifying your thoughts and emotions helps clear out your emotional space, make emotions seem more manageable and gives you a different perspective. You may not realize how cluttered your insides have become until you start articulating them. Next time you feel emotionally burdened, write it down. Keep a small notebook on hand in which you can practice identifying and expressing thoughts and feelings.
Ask yourself: What am I thinking about right now? What am I feeling right now? Where do I experience that feeling in my body?
- Give up a grudge
Releasing your grip on a gripe can free up emotional energy that you can then invest in other, more positive areas of your life. While having a range of emotions, including anger and hurt, is normal, letting those feelings take up permanent residence in your heart ultimately hurts you.
Ask yourself: Am I holding on to past hurt I could let go of? Why do I still hold on to this resentment?
- Offer an apology
If you feel unsettled about something you’ve said or done to another person, offer a sincere apology to clear the air. Even if it was unintentional on your part, a generous and heartfelt apology can remove unnecessary discomfort inside of you and repair damaged connections with others. I can attest to the relief that comes from taking ownership of a mistake or misstep.
Ask yourself: Is there someone in my life that, when I see them, I feel awkwardness about something I’ve said or done? Am I willing to apologize for my part in the miscommunication or hurt feelings?
- Forgive your faults
Often, it is easier to overlook other’s faults than it is to let go of your own shortcomings. Over time it’s easy to collect evidence for negative self-evaluations like, “I am never good enough” or “I’m always putting my foot in my mouth” or “See! I’m not good at relationships.” Dwelling on your past mistakes clutters the present and leads to self-critical thoughts and feelings. Humans aren’t inspired to do better by criticism, and this applies to self-criticism too.
Ask yourself: Is there something I do or say, or a trait I don’t like about myself that clutters my mind?
- Tell your truth
A willingness to be emotionally honest with those we love can deepen our connections and allow our loved ones to offer support and encouragement to us. If you are afraid that being more emotionally honest in your relationships will hurt them, think again. Not sharing your truth for long periods of time leads to emotional build-up that eventually erupts, causing further breakdowns in communication and relationship break-ups. The emotional eruption does far more damage to relationships than speaking your truth all along the way.
Ask yourself: When someone asks me how I’m doing, do I say that “I’m fine” even when I’m not?