Spring Cleaning Your Mental Space!

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life’s about creating yourself.”
George Bernard Shaw

Spring began officially on March 21st, however if you have friends and loved ones on the east coast they may not be feeling it right now.  My parents live in Ohio and woke up to four inches of snow on Saturday.  Whether it is spring outside or not, we have the opportunity to do a little spring cleaning of ourselves in our mental space.  By that I mean what’s going on internally for us.  Do you have a little dirt on your internal windows or cobwebs in corners of your mind?  This blog will focus on a couple of areas that you might want to focus on for internal spring cleaning.

As we picture cleaning out the areas where we might collecting unwanted dirt and debris or maybe something is stuck due to lack of use, let explore how we find ourselves in these situations.  Fear is the first thing I think about when my clients are stuck.  Chip Conley in “Emotional Equations” has an equation for this: joy=love-fear.  When you think about it fear can be what holds us back from experiencing love and then joy.  You cannot live in both places at once, so you eventually have to choose one!  Sometimes fear creeps into our lives in quiet ways and we are not even aware of it.  I am going to review several ways that fear creeps in for you to think about along with ideas for cleaning it out!

Comparing yourself to others
Cobwebs collect in the corners of our minds when we compare ourselves with others. Feeling like we are not good enough or comfortable with who we are, we look for ways to compare ourselves to others. There will always be some people who have it better than us and others who have it worse.  We may think that comparing may make us more determined and competitive yet it can often leave us with feelings of inadequacy which may cause us to give up.  In fact, Marshall Goldsmith in “Triggers” suggests that looking for others who are worse off than us may have the opposite effect of motivation and may cause us to not take action towards goals.  It’s a no win situation, focusing on others’ success and not our own success can result in big cobwebs in our mind that limits our ability to drive for our own success.  Focusing on you is the only path forward.

Allowing others to create your identity
Again, author Marshall Goldsmith in “MOJO” shares how junk accumulates in your mind when others craft your identity.  The only place you have power is in your own creating of your identity.  When you live from a remembered, reflected or programmed identity you are being held back from exercising the personal power you have available to live with “MOJO”.  You are living your identify from others’ expectations and judgements, packing away their “junk” in boxes that are full of repetition of negative perceptions about yourself and your abilities.  Many times this junk is in boxes where it is hidden but still has a big impact on you so take a moment to think about what identity you want for yourself and how you might begin to create that identity.

Allowing tolerations
I have talked about tolerations in previous blogs.  For a refresher, tolerations are a coaching term for things that irritate us/nag at us because they need to be done, removed, or changed, yet we ignore them.  Tolerations left unchecked can drain us of the vital energy we need to be at our best.  When these drainers accumulate in our lives they create a level of exhaustion that wears us down.  They are the little things in life from drippy faucets to negative relationships.  A great question is to ask yourself why you are allowing them in your life at all.  We often believe the effort to clean them out takes too much energy yet allowing them space takes energy as well.  We also may not be able to clean them out completely so we just ignore them.   Not every toleration can be removed yet with a plan we can find a smaller space for it in our lives.

Waiting for the time/situation to be perfect
Waiting for the time or situation to be perfect is the thin layer of dust that collects on our furniture.  We remove it frequently, but it returns almost as quickly as we remove it.  This focus on the perfect timing or situation blocks our energy and keeps us form setting and reaching our goals because it becomes a perennial excuse in our lives.  Wayne Dyer in “Excuses No More” considers expectations around timing to be a major excuse in our lives.  As you clean house in your mind, make sure you eliminate the timing excuse as many people find out in the twilight of their lives that there really is an finite amount of time and if not now-when?  In this vein, make sure that you give yourself permission to make mistakes-forgive yourself and move on.  All of us are working to improve some area in our lives and we need to be gentle with ourselves.  When the dust returns, remind yourself to just gently remove it.

Free yourself from “shoulds”
Now as part of our spring cleaning efforts, it’s time to give the clothing away that now longer serves us-the “shoulds’ in our lives.  Is our path based upon what we should be doing or what we want to be doing?  I have found that behavior change starts with a strong “why” and if that “why” isn’t our hearts desire then we really need to examine whether it still works for us.  “Should” clothing is too small, looks out of date, and doesn’t connect to what we are dreaming about.  Much like creating our own identity, leaving “shoulds” behind is a tremendously freeing exercise.  Either you are or you aren’t-it’s as simple as that.  Allowing ourselves to live in a “should” environment only produces guilt and serves to keep us stuck. Energizing our heart’s desire takes us more positively into our future by freeing our energy to move positively in the direction of our dreams.

Take baby steps-but take action
Clean the one thing you have been avoiding cleaning in your mental space.  What is the one minor change you can make to take action that doesn’t drain your energy and builds your momentum towards your dreams?  Think about classes that might stretch and grow you, people you need to meet and enjoy, habits that take your toward your dreams and let your kite of joy fly high this spring!!

To your success!

Dr. Peggy