I don’t usually embark on the official spring-cleaning effort, but there are times when I have an urge to clean. Lately, I’ve been thinking about the clutter in my home, how it is blocking my energy and well being. I believe that things have the energy to them and if I’m not interacting positively with my things, I am creating negative energy.
I decided to create a laundry list of things to go:
- get rid of the clothes that were never right, or were right at one time, but no longer fit
- old videos – the machine was replaced with a DVD a long time ago
- books that I will never read again (this is the challenge for me)
- papers, papers, papers (like rabbits multiplying without me even being aware of it)
- old TVs, PCs and other assorted technology items that I will never use again
- old makeup, lotions, shampoos, samples that I may someday use, etc.
Right now I’m envisioning my home as organized and clean, surrounded with items I use or enjoy. It will take some time to cleanse my home, and I’m willing to do it in small steps.
Of course, I do tend to free associate, which brought me to my next logical direction…what about my mind. The stuff that is in it…how much can be discarded?
I decided it’s time to look in my ‘guilt’ closet to see what is outdated and just doesn’t fit anymore. We all have a ‘guilt’ closet where we automatically open the door and take out our favorite guilt thoughts. It’s hard to let go of our guilt because we have invested a lot of time believing in it. Guilt is like a comfortable old pair of pants that we wear even if it doesn’t look that great.
Whenever I say to someone that ‘guilt’ is a wasted emotion, someone chimes in quickly, “well you need guilt, so you don’t hurt others.” Yes, we do need an emotional mechanism in place that indicates to us when we have hurt someone, intentionally or unintentionally.
Yes, we make mistakes, and we can acknowledge what we did, make the best amends we know how, and let it go. Guilt stays because we have a difficult time accepting our mistakes and honoring our humanness.
From my observation, most of the guilt I carry and my family and friends invest their time has nothing to do with hurting others. It’s more about keeping us limited, small and living within our fears. If you don’t believe me, start going through your ‘guilt’ closet and evaluate each guilty thought you own.
For example, I want to go to the museum, but my friend is not that excited about this thought. In my repertoire of reactions, I quickly recognize two. One if we don’t go to the museum, I will be disappointed or may feel that I’m always doing what my friend wants. If we do go to the museum, I would feel guilty because my friend doesn’t want to do it. Where was I hurting my friend that warranted me to feel guilty? It’s really about fear…that she would be upset with me.
What about in the case of raising children as there are lots of opportunities here to feel guilty. I was invested in being the best mother, even if I didn’t know what the best mother entails. Anyone who has parented a child has a bunch of stories that can be showcased in a moment’s notice that proves we weren’t perfect….in comes guilt. What about the stories of listening and caring for our loved ones…do we open the closet to take them out?
If we all sat down and shared our images of a great parent, we will see that it is different for each family, community, and country. So what is real about our guilt?
I believe that we primarily use ‘guilt’ to camouflage our fears. If we feel guilty about doing something that is important to us, we are only guilty of having fear.
Guilt gives us a false sense of goodness.
How To Clean a ‘Guilt’ Closet
Since I’ve decided to work on my ‘guilt’ closet, I’m going to use some organizational tricks. Create three boxes: Keep, Throw Out, and Not Sure. Actually, in the physical environment, there is the 4th box ‘Donate.’ I don’t think anyone wants my donation, so I left that box out of this cleaning effort.
I planned to write down every time I feel guilty about something. Evaluate the feeling and decide which box it belongs in The ‘Keep’ box is where I will handle mistakes, make amends and then let it go. “Throw Out” box is for those guilty thoughts that I recognize are just not real and only there to block out the joy in my life. The ‘Not Sure’ box I will put in those ‘guilty’ thoughts that I’m not sure. After I put it in this box, I will make a date (within the next 30 days) to go back to the items in that box and decide if it is a mistake or can I throw it out. Keep returning to your ‘Not Sure’ box and slowly clean it out.
What about your “guilt” closet? Do you declutter it and let go of thoughts that no longer support your well-being?
Women’s Group Topics
Women know how to hone into the guilt factor. We find ourselves feeling “guilty” about anything. This topic is great housekeeping of your mind, and you can help each other be accountable for creating a foundation for “guilt-free” living.
Happy ‘guilt’ closet cleaning.
“To fully enjoy the ‘richness’ of our lives, we need to stop long enough to visit with ourselves.”
(By Pat Brill)
Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation, and Guilt to Manipulate You by Susan Forward & Donna Frazier
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