In this month’s column, certified hypnotherapist Sam Grainger of Free the Mind Hypnotherapy in Norfolk encourages us to spring clean our emotions – as well as our physical space
I love this time of year. You start to appreciate the lighter nights; spring flowers are blooming and baby lambs appear in the fields. You feel a surge of energy and you may even think about spring cleaning. When you think about putting things in order, decluttering and freeing up space, we are often referring to the physical spaces that we occupy. The process of clearing out is quite cathartic and leaves you with a feeling of satisfaction. I like nothing better than a good cupboard clear out, or working through my wardrobe to see what I can deliver to the charity shop.
Why not extend this spring cleaning to your mental health and practice emotional decluttering. How do I do this, I hear you say? You need to recognize and respond to your emotions, particularly those emotions that we do not deal with in an effective way. These negative emotions are known as “emotional clutter”. Emotional clutter often lies under the surface where we don’t see it, or we internalise it and push it way down inside. This clutter has the greatest impact on our wellbeing. The emotion that lies under the surface is known as a secondary emotion, the emotion is linked to an experience.
Examples of this would be: resentment – “I do everything around here”; anger – “My boss does not appreciate me”; and anxiety – “I’m not good at talking to people”.
Take some time think about what is driving the emotion, allow yourself to feel and sit with this emotion. Then ask yourself these questions: What can I let go? What is no longer serving me?
Identify the negative emotions:
Write down the negative emotions that are cluttering your mind and find a way to respond to the emotion. The situation causing that emotion as passed, you may no longer have control over the situation. What you can control is your response.
Choose a different narrative:
Let’s take “I do everything around here”: OK, why not try communicating how you feel, it maybe those involved are unaware of how you are feeling. Instead try “I am feeling overwhelmed at the moment, and I would appreciate your help”. You have acknowledged your feelings and communicated this effectively with others. This prevents that build-up of resentment and negativity which as a negative effect on your emotional resilience.
Let go of what no longer serves you:
Often, we can fear letting go of something or someone, even though it is having a negative effect on our wellbeing. This does not have to be a major change or a negative experience. It is simply an acknowledgement of something/one is no longer right for us. It could be a relationship that is -one-sided, a change of career or simply reducing the amount of time you work to allow yourself more space. Although this can feel quite daunting letting go, it can also bring you freedom and relief. It provides an opportunity to allow something new to enter your life.
Create some space for you:
A new hobby you have not had time to pursue, a change of career, or maybe it’s something simple like having a regular massage, eating more healthily. Only you know what is right for you. Spending time on your emotions and wellbeing is time well spent.
There is so much you can do to spring clean your emotions. The aim is to get to a position of accepting what you cannot change, letting go of what is causing you to feel overwhelmed and allow space to enjoy your life with a positive outlook. This is not to say there will not be bad days and good days, the difference is the emotional reaction to those bad and good days.