The Art of Relating

Christine Kniffen, MSW, LCSW

Spring Clean Your Life

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Well, it’s that time of year when you need to sit up and start to do some Spring Cleaning in your life. However, I am not talking simply about cleaning out your garage. Instead, I am referring to dusting off and organizing those old goals for your life that have gotten pushed to the side for far too long. Do you still think about goals you had from several years ago? Do you wonder why you haven’t acted on them yet? It’s probably that there is simply too much clutter going on up in your head. Through the years you have probably thought about improvements you have wanted to make in many different areas.

Do you want to find a great relationship? Do you want to go back to school? Do you want to try and change careers? Do you want to have the tools for better time management? Do you want to get that home project finally started? Do you need to try to repair your relationship? Too many end-goals remain half started or never started, with different feelings and intensity attached to each. It’s no wonder paralysis has set in when it pertains to the “self-improvement” realm of life. However, the real tragedy is that it is keeping you from directing your life and living out your true happiness, as only you can paint on the canvas. There are three big areas that I think are especially important as a focus for attention when starting to spring clean your life. These include the state of your home, your relationship (or lack thereof) and your productivity.

As they like to say, first impressions are everything. What do others see when they come to your home? Do they say, “Wow, this is a great place”, or do they say, “This girl must really be stressed out and overwhelmed”? There are a gazillion books out there pertaining to clutter and how to get organized. But, it’s much more about the emotional stuff supporting the behavior, which needs to get flushed out so one can move forward and finally see tangible improvements in this area. Studies show a correlation between the clutter and one’s state of mind or mood should we say. Those diagnosed with true “hoarding” are likely suffering from other issues such as untreated anxiety, OCD or depression. You have also heard people say that your home is your sanctuary. It is supposed to be a place where we feel protected, comforted and relaxed. This way we can let go of the days stressors and re-energize. A home filled with clutter is in no way relaxing. Instead it is a heavy burden, slowly bleeding your energy. It is also a convenient excuse to badger yourself with negativity regarding your capabilities and efforts. Nothing about this is positive and it does weigh very heavily on your mood and sense of well-being.

The next big area that should be addressed when attempting to spring clean your life is that of your relationship. If you are currently in a relationship, then it’s time to clear out dysfunctional ways of relating and reacting to each other. It’s time to get some new tools for better results. Time is wasting. Do you really want yet another year to go by and still not feel properly “connected” to your partner? It doesn’t take forever, if both individuals make the effort, to see real progress in the communication area. With a little time and dedication, you can feel the relationship stress begin to melt away and feel the empathy and understanding begin to return. If you are not in a relationship currently, you still have plenty of spring cleaning to do. It’s time to get a whole new perspective on relationships and find out what must be present for true happiness and success. If you want to make an improvement just in time for spring romance, then you will have to get on with it and take some action. It’s time to say out with the old habits, fears and behaviors and in with the new attitude, hope and direction when it comes to the relationship area of life.

Lastly, I would like to talk about the third key area to focus on when you are ready to spring clean your life. It’s all about your productivity. This is what we refer to as work, but I think that the satisfaction comes from feeling that you are somehow making a difference. It doesn’t mean you have to be working for a struggling non-profit to feel productive. It’s about knowing that some good comes from what you do. Unfortunately, fear gets its nasty grip on us and we doubt that creating that kind of living is even possible. Therefore, too many people are just going through the motions and not really getting to experience fulfillment from what they do. This third key area in life is often one of the last great challenges for people. It involves pushing through the fear and doubts that are keeping you from designing this type of work life you want. It’s all about rearranging priorities, getting honest with yourself and seeking out things and people that are supportive of the path you choose.

Change sometimes comes quickly and sometimes it comes slowly. There is nothing wrong with the latter, if the momentum of the wheel continues to keep pushing forward. There is no time like the present to spring clean your life. Your new motto should become “Out with the old and in with the new”. It’s time for new ideas and new attitudes. Let go of the fears, assumptions and messages from the past. Make the decision to clean up these three critical areas of your life. If you begin to take charge and spring clean your life you will start to feel better almost immediately.

Christine Kniffen, LCSW is a Relationship Coach and Therapist. For a free consultation call 314-374-8396.