Helaine Z. Harris, MFT
Spring has sprung! Now is the time to clean house, not only outside, but our inner house as well. This is the place where our emotions, attitudes and beliefs reside - you know what I mean, the place inside us from which we run our entire lives. Now is the time to take an inventory of all your behaviors and patterns such as negative self-talk, unproductive thinking and words we express, and all that baggage of emotional past experiences. This requires sorting out, just like when we physically clean our environment. What do we want to keep, to throw away and to give away.
In the Christian tradition, Lent prepares people to clean out prior to celebrating Easter. In the Jewish tradition, one month prior to Passover, everything is cleaned out. Many of the major religions talk about the necessity of purifying to make room for a rebirth, resurrection, mating in springtime, a spiritual awakening or enjoying a playful spring recess. This certainly is a time to refresh from the inside out.
Think in terms of your body being your Inner Temple and your home being your Outer Temple. Let's continue with cleansing your Inner Temple.
1. Center Yourself: To decide what to keep of your values, beliefs, memories of past experiences, messages you were taught, and behaviors in which you engage, it is wise to quiet yourself and take a few moments to meditate. Allow the silence to be your teacher. Have your journal by your side to record your thoughts and progress. Then ask your inner self - or better yet, your Higher Self - "Which behavior patterns and emotional reactions are not serving me now?" Then listen inside. Some of you receive images, words, statements, a sound, or a moving picture to represent your answers Write and write, without editing or questioning. Just bear witness to what comes through you.
2. Now that your list is complete, notice what emotions and reactions occur. Separate your list into sections, if you desire. For example, some categories might be: Negative Self-Talk, Excuses I Make, I Can'ts, Procrastination Areas, If only's, Excessive Emotions like Anger, Resentments I Hold Onto and you may find it best for you to create your own categories. Be aware of how your buttons get pushed.
3. Make a list of positive messages, emotions and responses you would rather experience in your life. Include your list of what you could do to feel more empowered. These might be in the form of affirmations or choice statements.
4. You're ready to create a new goal list. Perhaps two to four goals for each emotional issue you wish to release. Decide on which emotional baggage you want to release or shift first. Number the rest of the negative beliefs or reactions that emerged so you have the order of what you want to deal with when ready.
5. Select the method or technique you wish to use to release these old reactions. Some of the best methods for releasing negative emotions are EFT, Self-hypnosis, Reichian work, and if it's one of the biggies connected to the fear and anger of abuse, EMDR may be the method of choice, in which case it's important to work with a therapist. For some issues, like everyday anger, it might be a cognitive method such as, "Count to 10 when I get angry before speaking or doing something." Or, "I will write in my journal until the emotion subsides."
6. Decide on a time frame for working with each emotional issue. Remember: since releasing negative emotions are not like doing a physical housecleaning item, your time frame needs to be flexible. Be gentle on yourself.
7. Notice the underlying fears, concerns or issues that arise as you change your behavior. Then you may need to address these aspects as they come up.
8. Evaluate your progress. You may choose to evaluate weekly or monthly. You decide what works best for you. Are there tangible differences in your behavior?
9. Create a Win List every time you do something positive toward a behavior change.
10. Reward yourself by a simple pat on the back. Or, find another way to reward yourself that feels good inside. When I've worked on and accomplished something that is personally challenging, I reward myself with a break and talking to a friend. How can you reward you in a meaningful way?
Here is a positive choice statement that might work for you. Try it - you might like it.
I choose to totally and fully take charge of my emotional reactions and behavior patterns. I delight in my new, positive beliefs and behaviors as I open to a joyful and magnificent life!
Helaine Z. Harris
Helaine Z. Harris, MFT