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Spring Cleaning for the Soul



With it being spring time, we begin to think about tasks around the home we have put off all winter: cleaning out the garage, washing the windows, and the like.  What we don’t commonly think about is taking time to clean the clutter we have accumulated within ourselves over the previous year.  Just as spring ushers in the rebirth of flowers and new life in nature, so too can we usher in new health and a rebirth of purpose.

Spring is the perfect season to take the time to evaluate those beliefs we are holding which serve to hinder our progress in the new year, as well as those relationships which are healthy and those which we cling to out of a  feeling of obligation, no matter the amount of drama they bring with them.

So how do address these feelings?  How do you clear out the cobwebs and clutter you have built up?  There are several ways, but you must be willing to be honest with yourself when doing so.

One of the biggest things we hold with us, which is also one of the most damaging, is the failure to meet the expectations we placed on ourselves in the past year.  Whether it was that new job that you planned to start, new relationship you thought you would have, or whatever you expected to happen in the past year: the fact it hasn’t doesn’t mean you are a failure, it means you had one; there is a huge difference.

Reevaluating those goals is the first step.  First, think about those goals you set over the past year and ask they are still goals which you wish to achieve.  Next, think about the magnitude of the goal you set.  So often we seek to set a large and lofty goal, which makes accomplishing it almost impossible.  Just as with any journey, there are steps which must be taken, and setting a goal is no different.  Look at the goal you set: is it something large, and if so, did you take the time to figure out what steps you needed to take to reach the goal?  If the goals are still something that you wish to do, then sit down and figure out what steps you have to take to reach it.  Then take those steps.

With respect to relationships, just as with your personal goals, a reevaluation must be done.  Understandably it is hard with friendships, work relationships, and romance to look at the other from a 100% logical perspective, as there will be some emotions.  Those emotions, though, can help you logically look at the relationships in your life.

You may wish to go one by one, but there may be some groups, such as co-workers and bosses, which you may wish to lump together.  Take a look at each individual or group and ask yourself, “what are the emotions I feel where they are concerned?”  Here is the tricky thing: we try to label some emotions good and some bad, but in fact no matter the emotion, it can be either.

Whether you feel anger, sadness, jealousy, or joy the reason behind that emotion is what is most important to examine.  Do you feel happy when around someone because they are always doing things for you or because they, as a person, make you happy?  Do you feel anger at work because you don’t get credit for the work you do or because someone else is better at the job?

How you answer these questions tells you how you should react to the situation, should you say “see you later” if it is less than positive?  Not always.  If there is abuse, in no way should you say maybe I can fix this. But in many other situations, such as with friends and work relationships, more effort can help improve the situation.  In other cases, yes, it is okay to say this relationship isn’t healthy and it isn’t needed.  Cutting a person or situation out of your life doesn’t mean you don’t care, it means you care enough about yourself to demand better.

The most important thing to remember is that growth is a process, not an immediate change.  Just as an acorn does not become a mighty oak overnight or simply by willing it so, growth for us as individuals is quite the same. Each day we have the chance to grow or to wither, but unlike with plants, withering can be a process for growth in humans.  So often we have set such lofty goals that we don’t realize the progress we have made or what else we have accomplished.


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Justin Nutt, LMSW, LAC

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