Spring cleaning for the soul

Image by Mabel Amber, still incognito… from Pixabay

I’ve been on a huge spring cleaning kick the last few weeks. It started with catching up on regular cleaning after having been sick for a month, but it has gradually expanded into cleaning out drawers and closets and even picking furniture to get rid of.

I’ve already taken one enormous box to donate, and I’m sure there will be more. I’ve rearranged my kitchen to move almost everything off the countertops (a big change for me). Even the coffee maker now lives in a cabinet when it’s not actually in use!

As I’ve opened up empty space in the kitchen and elsewhere through this cleaning out process, I’ve been amazed at what a difference it makes in how I feel.

The extra spaciousness in my exterior world is opening up more space for growth, change, and possibility in my inner world, too. Before I even realized it, I found myself working on an inner spring cleaning at the same time as I worked on the outer one around the house.

In my outer world, my focus has been on cleaning things and deciding which things to keep, get rid of, or rearrange. Those questions inevitably bring up memories related to those things, the emotions those memories invoke, questions about my values, and decisions about what matters to me.

All of those sift into my inner world showing me areas that need a bit of dusting or cleaning out or rearranging. I find myself asking whether it’s worth holding onto a given resentment any longer or whether I really need to keep certain painful memories constantly on replay or whether a given belief I run up against is really serving me very well.

In my outer world, I’m tackling my natural pack rat tendencies head on and realizing that there are two things that play into my hesitation to part with things: the past and the future. Either I’ve allowed the fact that I’ve had something for some long number of years to make it feel as if it’s a part of my identity (and therefore must be kept forever just as it is even if it’s no longer useful or relevant) or I worry that I can’t get rid of something because there’s at least some remote possibility that I might need it sometime in the future.

It turns out that’s what drives so much in my inner world too.

I either hold old memories or resentments or beliefs or habits close just because they’ve been around for so long that I’ve started confusing them as part of my identity somehow or I think I must hold onto to them as some kind of protection against possible things that might come my way in the future.

In both cases, I keep forgetting to consider what matters here and now for where I am today.

William Morris once said, “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” I’ve been using that as a measuring stick to help keep me centered in the present as I’ve been doing this spring cleaning. Is this useful to me here and now in my current life? Is it beautiful in a way that is inspiring me here and now in my current life? Does this fit who I am here and now?

I started with that approach in my house and outer world, and I found that it helped focus me on the present instead of wandering off in the past and future. It’s helpfulness there had me translating it over to my inner world rather quickly.

Is that memory that I’m rehearsing for the thousandth time really useful to this moment? Is it beautiful in a way that inspires me to be the person I want to be here and now?

Is holding onto that resentment or guilt or shame useful here and now? Does it have beauty that inspires me to be the person I want to be in this moment?

Is that particular belief about myself or the world or another useful to me in this moment? Is it beautiful in a way that inspires me to be the person I want to be here and now?

Is this habit or pattern of responding useful here and now? Is it inspiring me to be the person I want to be in this moment?

It is, of course, rather easier to make these decisions just once about things in my house. Once I pack them up to donate or throw them out, they are gone. In my inner world, it requires that I keep choosing to let go of or shift something over and over again as old mental and emotional patterns kick in.

I’ve been so inspired by the open spaciousness and possibility created in my outer world, though, that it’s keeping my inspired to persist in this spring cleaning of my inner world. Each burden that I lay down as I let go of the unhelpful memories, thoughts, beliefs, habits, patterns, or emotions that I’ve been clinging to (often completely without awareness) is opening the same kind of space and possibility in my inner world, and that’s such a precious gift.

If you were to imagine spring cleaning your inner world, what might you be ready to let go of to create more space and possibility in your life?

What burdens might you be ready to lay down and leave behind? What shifts in focus might serve you better?

What’s helpful and beautiful to you in this moment in your life?

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