Hi friends, welcome to April! Spring is officially here, which means three things: beautiful blooms, lots and lots of pollen, and a renewed obsession with Marie Kondo! Many of us do associate this time of year with an opportunity to organize our closets and deep-clean our homes, and as much as it sucks to do it, the feeling of lightness you feel after the stuff’s been donated, the windows washed, and the floors scrubbed is pretty amazing.
As I sat in my closet waiting for the energy and inspiration to begin my decluttering project a few days ago (i.e. heavily procrastinating) I started thinking about how valuable an exercise this would be for my mind. Thanks to the type of work I am in and the countless self-help books I’ve read, self-development seminars I’ve attended, and yoga trainings I’ve completed, I feel that my mental “home” is pretty clean. However, just last week I experienced something that made me realize that all of the personal work I described above has been a little like cleaning my house by stuffing all the things I don’t want to see underneath the bed – valuable and a great start, but not quite thorough enough.
If you read my last newsletter, you know I was feeling a little overwhelmed in Feb and hoping for less drama and more rest. Well, the Universe listened (as it tends to do!) and I found myself with a wide open agenda last week – two private clients cancelled for different reasons, our friend offered to take Lucas to the rodeo so Dave and I had an entire Saturday to ourselves, and things at the studio ran so smoothly I almost worried my phone wasn’t working! So what did I do with this sweet, incredible gift of free time? Busied myself with things that certainly did not need my attention, stressed about what could go wrong at the studio, and felt guilt, guilt, guilt for not being more productive.
Compared to the high-strung, self-critical perfectionist I was in my 20s, I really have come a long way. Primarily through the practice of yoga, I’ve learned to worry less, love myself more, and trust that things will turn out as they should without me needing to control them. Nonetheless, I can see that some of my old patterns of thinking – like associating busyness with productivity, resting with laziness, and personal care with selfishness – are still there, lurking in the drawers of my mind. I have dramatically redesigned my life to give me the breathing room I craved when I was working at ExxonMobil, but I haven’t completely purged myself of the limiting beliefs that don’t allow me to fully enjoy the new space I’ve created. Until I truly detach my sense of worth from external accomplishments and redefine success as a state of being instead of doing, I’ll never be quite free.
This pregnancy has also let out some of my most deeply hidden demons. I had an eating disorder (and exercise addiction) in college, and seeing my body grow and change in ways I cannot control has been challenging. I have made such progress over the years in terms of eating for nourishment instead of a specific number of calories and feeling comfortable in my own skin, but the voice in my head telling me I am only attractive if I am skinny has been getting louder and louder. There are several things I can do to manage these emotions until Baby is born, like hanging out with other expecting mamas, buying prenatal clothes that make me feel beautiful, and reminding myself that this is just temporary. All great things to do, but again, a little like applying a fresh coat of paint to a wall instead of actually removing it to let more light in. If I truly want to savor not only my pregnancy but all of the stages of life in which my body will change, I’ll have to go deeper than that and unravel my attachment to a specific physical appearance.
So many of us have the best of intentions when it comes to cleaning up our act so that we may find the happiness we seek, but we tend to keep our efforts on the surface. We may improve our diets, take up yoga, switch jobs, end a toxic friendship, and limit time on social media, but we’ll only find temporary relief if we don’t roll up our sleeves and scrub out the misconstrued truths we carry with us. That’s why our problems often seem to follow us from place to place and relationship to relationship….it’s not them, it’s us!
This month, I invite you to Spring clean your mental real estate. This exercise starts with simply becoming aware of your triggers and (lovingly) asking yourself if there are any hidden beliefs in the nooks and crannies of your mind that are driving your response (hint: you’ll know you’ve hit on something worth exploring further when the magnitude of your reaction is disproportionately bigger than the trigger itself.) I recognize this might not seem like the most appealing activity, but I promise you that once you’ve cleared at least some of the baggage you’ve been carrying with you over the years, it’ll be so worth it!