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Spring Cleaning your Feelings

Have you ever been through a period of change in your life and realize that you really need/want to clean out your closet so that your clothes better represent who you are or what you do? Clearing away clothes you don’t wear anymore or will never realistically wear again, can feel so cathartic and can reflect changes happening on the inside.

Our healing process is a lot like this process of cleaning out your closet. Imagine that each item of clothing is an experience from your past, a feeling, a judgement about the moments in your life that shaped you. Moments that were too much at the time that they stuck to you like that sweater that sits in the back of your closet that you NEVER wore!

The process of clearing out clutter can look and/or feel like a volcano erupting. A mountain of clothing pulled out from all the hiding spots. (I thought you said you were cleaning up!! Says an unwelcome voice) Some items may be easy with one look, to let go of. But chances are, it’s more tricky than that. You must try it on, see if it’s worth keeping.

Each time you try on an item of clothing, you are reminded of things that you wouldn’t remember just looking at it. The feel of it against your skin reminds you of a smell or a sound and that gives you a greater understanding of its place in your life and then it begs the question, how does this memory/shirt serve you now?

Did you hold onto that shirt for fear of hurting someone else’s feelings? Maybe you felt ashamed for spending too much money on those pants. The sweater for that job you no longer have. Those shoes that were supposed to stretch. A watch, remember those? Maybe you held on to that underwear ‘just in case’, or because of a fantasy that one day I will… (Now we're in a wormhole, I thought we were in a closet!)

Healing our body is the same. When we don’t process our feelings in the moment, our bodies store and collect the remembering of moments that were too much to deal with at the time; too demanding physically, mentally or emotionally, that we put them in the back of the closet thinking that we could just store them there forever. Well, guess, what? Eventually you run out of room for all those feelings and then when something new happens the body goes into a state of overwhelm which means that you are more likely to just ‘lose it’ or to completely burn out. Hence, the MOUNTAIN of clothes in your room.

Unfortunately, this could mean that there’s little room for the clothes that actually fit you well or room for what could fit you in the future. (This analogy may not work for walk-in closets.) And considering that our bodies and our needs are always evolving, we need a wardrobe that suits us now and going forward. We need to keep what works and let go of what doesn't serve us.

When we start to heal, what we are doing is creating a feeling of more spaciousness, more capacity for the challenges coming our way. It's not a simple process, you can't just will yourself healed or deep breath all your junk away. Instead, it's the deeper inner work; dealing with our feelings, reaching out to others, setting boundaries, and developing better communication, practicing compassion--we create a pattern of resilience in our nervous system that gives us more options for dealing with stressors as they appear in the future.

The mountain of clothes shrinks, the clothes themselves have less charge and it becomes easier to clear away each time you try.

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