What would it be like to start New Year with a clear head and a clear space in which to work and live? And I’m not just talking about physical space – but emotional and mental too. How about we spend this month, clearing our lives of some of the old stuff that doesn’t work for you any more so you can start 2011 with a clean slate?
First, it might help you to create an inventory of what you want to let go of and clear out of your life. Ask yourself – What baggage are you carrying – emotional (resentment/grudges/sadness), physical (body weight, clutter, stuff) and mental (old negative beliefs, old thinking that no longer serves you)? Write a list of all the things you’d like to let go of – the physical, emotional and mental.
For each item on your list, ask yourself, ‘What is the cost of the load?’ Are there any benefits to carrying this baggage? (Does carrying extra weight allow you to hide, does your clutter distract you so you don’t have to deal with bigger issues, does believing you’re not good enough keep you in your comfort zone?)
And finally, ask yourself – if you could find a way, would you be willing to let go of your load? Often, clutter, baggage can be a distraction from fear so by letting go of the distraction, you have to face your fear. But the good news is that you get to focus on what is really important.
My old coaching mentor Thomas Leonard, named as the founder of the coaching profession, always talked about creating a vacuum in your life so you can attract great stuff into your life. The ‘laws of the universe’, he said, could not stand a vacuum. If you create space in your life, you leave room for new stuff to get sucked magnetically effortlessly into your life. What a motivating idea!
So how do actually create this vacuum? Physical stuff? Get out the bin bags. Start small, one drawer at a time. Get yourself an egg-timer and give yourself 15 minutes a day to clear out one small space/shelf/handbag. When you’re clearing out, do it mindfully and with intention. “I’m letting go and creating space to attract a/b/c……into my life.” Don’t see it as a chore, but as something to look forward to.
Writing is a brilliant way to rid yourself of mental and emotional clutter. Dr James Pennebaker, psychologist and professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, conducted research that showed that short-term, focussed writing will enable you to let go of emotional and mental patterns that hold you back. Not only that but it will also beneficially affect your immune function, improve blood pressure and brain waves. (Try the exercise below)
Spend December, slowly clearing your head, house and soul so you can start 2011 with space and time to get on creating and attracting what you really do want into your life.
How to Clear Yourself of Emotional Baggage:
For four days, write about an emotional upheaval that profoundly affected your life and you feel that you carry round with you in the present.
• Write for 20 minutes a day.
If you end up writing for more than 20 minutes, that’s great. But you must still write 20 minutes the following day.
• Writing topic
You can write about the same event on all four days, or about different events each day. Choose to write about something that is extremely personal and important to you.
• Write continuously
Once you begin writing, write continuously without stopping. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar. If you run out of things to say, simply repeat what you’ve already written.
• Write only for yourself
You are writing for yourself and no one else. Plan to destroy or hide what you have written when you have finished. Do not turn this exercise into a letter.
• The flip-out rule
If you feel you cannot write about a particular event because it will ‘push you over the edge’, then don’t write about it. Deal with only those events or situations that you can handle now.
Many people can feel saddened or depressed after expressive writing, especially on the first day or two of writing. If this happens to you, it’s completely normal.
From Writing to Heal by James W Pennebaker (New Harbinger Publications, 2004)
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