Yesterday’s post introduced the idea that perhaps changes that struggle to take flight may, in fact, be due to a personal baggage problem; a tendency to hold on to stuff that has become outdated.
Old stories, resentments, traumas, perspectives, perceptions, beliefs. These things all mix together in ways that influence our behaviors, often in ways we don’t realize. Yet they can have a profound impact on others as well as on our ability to successfully transition to change.
This stuff at some point was probably quite useful to us; however, it has since become a burden and needs to be cleared out in order to make room for the new.
A balanced approach to creating space for change.
Today, two concepts will be introduced; one based on the very tangible act of physical decluttering, the other focusing on decluttering from an emotional standpoint.
Most of the time, preparing for change requires some physical preparation, and also some mental and emotional preparation. But we rarely synchronize our efforts so that our physical and emotional-mental states operate concurrently.
We think about what we need to do and then do it, instead of thinking about what we want to accomplish and why, while also engaged in the act of accomplishing it.
For example, clearing out email to create Inbox Zero is great, but clearing out email to make space for receiving new client email is even better. Creating intention around the purpose for our actions results in alignment in a way that just doing the physical exercise for a short-term outcome won't achieve.
Let's take a closer look at our two approaches for more detail on how this works:
1. Physical decluttering.
Making space is nothing new when it comes to physical decluttering. Many of us refer to this as Spring Cleaning, or Cleaning House. But it can be a daunting exercise, especially when we are in the midst of preparing for change.
Decluttering certain aspects of our lives can result in a physical sensation of lightness. This sensation feels great and offers us a real experience from which we can appreciate the space that has been created.
How to declutter physical space for change.
2. Emotional decluttering using timelines.
In a previous post I introduced an exercise by which we listed our previous experiences and included an assessment of whether each experience was a good one (+), a bad one (-), or a combination (~ or +/-). We also identified lessons learned. The experiences could be based on a specific context, such as jobs, relationships, weight, locations, or they could be all-inclusive.
For purposes of the theme on Focused Reflection, where this exercise originally appeared, this was enough. However, taken a bit further, it can be an excellent tool for decluttering historical emotional baggage to make room for change.
Here's what to do:
1. First, make sure to read the post, Using Timelines To Understand Our Patterns (In 5 Steps), and follow the instructions for creating your preliminary timeline.
2. Once you’ve created your preliminary timeline, do the following (note, this might look easier than it actually is):
Sometimes it is difficult to accept certain situations or people, but accepting and ourselves and own actions, even if we’re not thrilled with them, can heal counter-productive and damaging judgments and insecurities we've placed on ourselves. Doing this also allows us to open ourselves up to new experiences feeling more aligned and whole.
Consciously detaching from certain experiences and letting them go are integral parts of this exercise, and some of our deeper experiences will probably require more time and practice than others to completely remove their influence.
3. Once we’ve created space by decluttering old emotional baggage, we will need to shore it up or it will likely be refilled by some of the stuff we just let go of.
This happens because we have created habits of thinking that inadvertently invites our old stuff back in. One way prevent this from happening is to imagine filling the vacated space with bright light and positive emotions, resulting in a barrier for old baggage to return.
4. It is okay, and even preferable to complete this exercise in increments.
Work on the easier experiences first if you’re facing a busy schedule, lots of socializing, and/or a need for a lot of physical, mental or emotional energy.
The deeper, heavier experiences, those that create negative emotions or otherwise bring us down, can have the greatest impact; however, they will also require more energy and space to complete. These are best reserved for nights, weekends, and when we know we’ll have some time alone to allow ourselves to sufficiently process.
Eyes wide open.
There you have it! As also holds true with focused reflection, some of these exercises take time and the courage to be open and honest with ourselves.
The benefits, however, can be very impactful, creating a sensation of openness and lightness, putting us well on our way to accepting the new into our lives.
Coming up…creating physical and mental movement to attract movement in our change.
About the Author
Megan Rounds, Ed.D. is owner and principle perculator of perculcha, llc.
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