Cleaning Out for the New YearJanuary 6, 2012 • By Karen Kochenburg, LCSW Self-Care Topic Expert Contributor
Everyone talks about resolutions and starting fresh at the beginning of a new year. It is, in fact, an auspicious time to renew ourselves, symbolically and energetically. A fresh calendar year gives us a sense of hope and new-found control over the course of our life. Who knows what 2012 will bring? We want to be strong, clear-thinking, and psychologically ready to handle every challenge and emotion that comes our way! To meet this goal, I have targeted a few areas where old “stuff” tends to accumulate and I have provided simple steps to help you cleanse and prepare for all that the new year has to offer.
Piles of things, disorganized drawers, overflowing closets, bottomless storage spaces… these recognizable bastions of clutter drain our energy and steal our time. They are testaments to the difficulty of letting go of the past and fear of the future. Do you want to enter 2012 strong or afraid? Too much stuff keeps us mentally and emotionally stuck in the past and prevents us from growing and moving confidently into the future. The self-help maven du jour is Gail Blanke, and she offers easy advice on de-cluttering your life for mental, emotional, and physical health. Go to throwoutfiftythings.com and let yourself be inspired by her ideas. Then start small, with your kitchen junk drawer or glove compartment in the car. Remember to recycle and donate whenever possible to turn your act of cleaning-out into a work of service and support for the rest of the world.
Rather than writing out a laundry list of things you’d like to change about yourself and creating new year’s resolutions you are unlikely to fulfill, choose just one habit that, if you change it, will help you feel stronger and more in control of yourself. Energy focused on one meaningful target is a powerful force.
Hard things happened last year. You survived them and will continue to do so. You do not need to keep rehashing the challenges, pains, and annoyances you suffered. It is okay to release those memories by allowing them increasingly less brain space. When they come up, acknowledge them gently and say “I’m done with you now,” or, “That is over now.” Take a deep breath and clear your mind. Then move on to a new activity and allow your brain to shift away from the disturbing thought. You will find that the painful memories will resurface less and less often.
Find the lessons in the challenges from the past year and release the accompanying pain. Use the following sentence-starters in your journal: “I forgive…” or “I am willing to forgive…” or even “I am willing to consider forgiving…” Choose one and set a timer for one minute. Finish the sentence as many times as you can without editing or censoring yourself in any way. If you have more responses after the minute is over, go ahead and keep writing. When you have finished the sentence as many times as you can, go back and re-read your work. Choose the full sentences that stand out for you and decide which ones you can invite into your mental space to bring peace and release the old hurt. Write more about these thoughts and your new, freer mindset, or just spend a few quiet minutes envisioning how you will act and feel now that you are moving towards forgiving someone, something, or yourself.
The troubles of others
We all have our own challenges and it is critical that we do our own work rather than tackling the problems of others. We have been trained to believe that we should keep informed about what’s happening around the world by watching, reading, or listening to the news. It is horrifying and anxiety-producing and there is NOTHING we can really do about most of the situations presented there. Give yourself the gift of freedom from the pain, worry, and fear that accompanies the constant stream of “news” barraging us. If you choose, it is perfectly all right to cancel the paper, turn off the TV, re-set your internet start page, and change the radio station away from the depressing updates of the day. I promise the world will carry on without your close attention to every detail, and you will feel much lighter, calmer, and more optimistic. The items of information that need your attention and that you can actually do something about will find their way to you.
Sort your companionship: family, good friends, acquaintances. Decide who inspires, uplifts, energizes you and enhances your life. Those who don’t add value to your life either go on the acquaintance list and get less of your energy, or you stop contacting them altogether. Remember that, as adults, we get to choose our family. We can distance ourselves from even the blood relatives who drag us down and bring conflict into our lives. You also have permission to clean out your Facebook friend list. De-friend people who give you any kind of yucky feeling when you see their name pop up. Don’t mess around with blocking or unsubscribing, just take them off your list completely. Free yourself to populate your life with people you enjoy and let the rest go their own way.
Let go of the old to make room for the new! You can’t swing to the next tree while holding on to the old vine. Clear our your mental and physical space for peace and prosperity in the new year!
© Copyright 2012 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Karen Kochenburg
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.
JaydenJanuary 6th, 2012 at 11:22 AM
Seeing so many people make unrealistic resolutions is actually funny.They are not going to keep them up anyway.Why?Because they expect a date change to influence them in a revolutionary kind of a way out of nowhere.
How is making a resolution going to make you do things that you don’t now?You need to work on the factors that can help you achieve what you resolve to.And those steps and measures are mentioned here.A very very useful article.
sebrinaJanuary 6th, 2012 at 3:58 PM
sebrinaJanuary 6th, 2012 at 4:00 PM
New Years day is always a time for cleaning, literally for me.
I go through the house like a mad woman, cleaning up and cleaning out.
It is the perfect way to start the new year for me!
LonnieJanuary 7th, 2012 at 7:41 AM
good time for that proverbial spring cleaning but just a little early
MarcusJanuary 7th, 2012 at 2:15 PM
Generally I clean out my stuff before every christmas…It maybe something I have not throw out but have no use for,something broken or anything that is of no utility,I try and get rid of such things and I feel more relaxed after.
EddJanuary 8th, 2012 at 10:30 AM
For me this is about more than cleaning house.
It is all about cleaning up your life, and the messes and mistakes that we have made along the way.
But it does not have to be something that we only do once a year.
This cleaning up inside and out has to become a habit, something that we all do from time to time to make things right. To make life right.
victoriaJanuary 9th, 2012 at 1:27 PM
I try and ‘clean’ aspects of my life whenever I feel low or when things are not right.Its like tweaking the settings in your computer to make it work perfectly again,isn’t it? And to all those who do not practice such a thing- You need to start and there couldn’t be a better time than the new year.
LisaJanuary 10th, 2012 at 8:57 AM
I have I go through this whole ‘cleaning things out’ routine whenever I have a breakup.If it was anything beyond a short time relationship it can hurt to have things around.And throwing them out really does help get Orr things. I would digest the same for any negative memory. Getting rid of things related to such an experience is a sure shot way if you ask me.
wandaJanuary 10th, 2012 at 3:56 PM
Most of us like the idea or the concept of starting over, starting out with a clean slate.
The bad thung is that most of us are not able to carry through and do the things that we need to start truly afresh.
I suppose it is just too easy to slip back into those bad habits time after time.
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