When Andy Warhol posited, “…everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes” was he thinking about specific days of the year, too? Believe it or not, March 2 was “National Old Stuff Day.” It’s a day to appreciate the difference between wonderful treasurers and worthless trash. It’s a day to declutter and make space for the new. With the vernal equinox occurring on March 20, let’s commence our emotional and spiritual spring cleaning today, starting with the safe disposal of the following unnecessary clutter:
Energy Vampires: These are emotionally immature people who suck the life out of you by requiring ultra high maintenance. Though some are well intentioned, they see themselves as superstars and you are acting in a cameo role. If a trip to the dumpster isn’t feasible because this is your boss or a close family member, then limiting exposure and boosting your immune system through mindful exercise or meditation are the keys to stopping the bleeding. The emotional bloodmobile need not stop at your home.
Other People’s Approval: Constantly looking for validation by other people is like tasting a glass of wine and asking what someone else thinks about it. Be confident enough in who you are to give yourself a pat on the back, especially when no one else will. Try a big hug for bringing your “A” Game in a pressure situation. If you’re generous with sincere praise to others, and they do not reciprocate, it’s time to visit the compost heap to make a deposit.
Over Committing: Saying yes to everything and everybody is a surefire way to reduce your ability to live a more tranquil life. The key to avoiding too many commitments is to recognize that you’re not responsible for solving everybody’s problems because your time is finite. Decide which people and causes you really need to be an advocate for, then go for it. For everything else, the yes trash gets put out on Wednesday night for Thursday pick-up.
Bad Habits: Do you have any bad habits, addictions or obsessions that act as headwinds, buffeting your development as a fulfilled person? Try to replace time now spent with Johnny Walker, Colonel Sanders or the White Dragon with outdoor exercise and the companionship of people who love you the most and have your best interests at heart. If you think you need the help of a professional intervention, you probably do. Check out local resources to find the right people who can help you haul this refuse to the dumpster.
Unrealistic Expectations: Say goodbye to all the “Haves” of the past…the should haves, the could haves and the would haves. Everybody makes mistakes, loses their way and drops the ball. It’s called life. You will never find your True North using a hand-me-down compass. It’s time you upgrade to a high tech GPS system, customized with your goals, destinations and desires. Take that old broken compass and place it in the recycling bin next to your 8-Track player, typewriter and Polaroid.
Placing Yourself Last on the To-Do List: There is a reason air stewards instruct you, in the case of sudden cabin decompression, to place the oxygen mask on yourself first, take a deep breath, then help those around you. If you can’t take care of yourself, how can you take care of those you love? Even if you are a family or professional caregiver, keep your own doctor, dentist and hairstyling appointments. Maintain your yoga, strength training and cardio exercise sessions. You can’t afford to have a major breakdown and be hauled off to the junkyard.
Bad Self Image: When you look in the mirror, who looks back? The Mr. Hyde with failed relationships, health issues and emotional baggage? Or do you see the accomplishments of Dr. Jekyll with the family who loves you, the home you live in and the job you excel at? Shatter that funhouse mirror and dispose the shards in the trash right now.
The Chains of the Past: Your ancestry is not your destiny. To accept the influences of your past as the sole determinant of your future is to reject recent successes, hard work and self-efficacy. The past has an undeniable vote on your present, but it does not get a veto on your future. Take the ballot boxes full of disappointing past election results and send them to the shredder.
This process of personal spring cleaning creates the space needed to grow and flourish. The risk of inaction is that you will become Old Stuff before your time. What will you discard? What will you fill the newfound space with?