As I’m sure you can guess from what I’ve keep banging on about ( 🙂 ), a huge part of Self-Change is re-framing our Mindset and the decluttering process is not just about clearing physical space, it’s about mental decluttering also.
“Don’t let it rent your head” is something my Mum said to me a long time ago, and what’s happened to us in our past can very literally “hold us back” in that past and that story. When I spoke about simply observing feelings in the letting it go meditation, the emotions we feel are often driven by our stories, and the top tactic for dealing with the ones that linger is forgiveness.
Mental de-cluttering can be very difficult – Lifting the memories and beliefs that shaped our current thoughts into the light of objectivity, feeling them and then asking “Does holding onto this experience serve me and my higher good?” can be very hard indeed, as our amygdala is usually telling us (very loudly) that holding on to the memory and all that entails is the “safe” thing to do.
However, as Anaïs Nin said: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom”
Mental de-cluttering is something that we do again and again – yes, there are big pieces of the past that come up when we think about this the first time we do it, but mental decluttering and forgiveness is like an onion – it has layers. There is always more to de-clutter, always more to forgive, and we always feel better for working through the (very easy) process. After all, hanging on to the more toxic memories that drive our lives through pain, resentment or anger is like “eating poison and harming ourselves, yet expecting the other person to die.”
In the same way as when we physically de-clutter our stuff (and I recommend reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A simple, effective way to banish clutter forever by Marie Kondo – an excellent physical de-cluttering system ) we de-clutter memories and experiences by topic, with a focus on “Love”, “Money”, “Work”, “Siblings”,”Parents” or any other life topic that we feel is “renting our head” – naturally there is always cross-over, but don’t let that stall you. If you don’t think a memory would fit in where you want to do the work right now, then leave it for later.
The actual process is easy – Allow yourself some time, pick your topic, grab pen and paper (because writing activates both sides of the brain) and start writing out emotional memories on the chosen topic. Include anything that still has an emotional charge – anger, resentment, embarrassment, shame, etc and write a short paragraph on each memory as it comes up. Keep going until you can’t think of anything else, aiming for between 20-100 memories.
Don’t get stuck or over think it, you may end up with pages and pages, or just a few lines. The memories that are “missed” this time aren’t yet ready to be forgiven. Just like cleaning out the wardrobe usually takes more than one go, emotionally charged memories that are driving current behaviours often hide behind each other.
Once you have the list formed, and you are ready to start forgiving (It’s perfectly fine to write the list and then leave it to one side for a short while if you need to do so) read the first memory, then take a breath and say out loud “I forgive you, I’m sorry, thank you, I love you.” and then physically cross the memory out with your pen. Repeat the mantra for each item on the list, crossing them off until you reach then end. You can then discard the list in whatever way you see fit; rip it up, shred it, burn it or just chuck it in the recycling.
Why these words? Because they release you from carrying the emotions – it’s not at all about the cause of the memory, be that a person, organisation or circumstance. And whilst remaining engaged in the exercise, you don’t even have to mean the words that you are saying all that much. Remember, the Limbic brain doesn’t have “words” it has “feels”
Energetically, “I forgive you” is acknowledging the memory and the emotion, “I’m Sorry” covers forgiving ourselves for carrying the emotion for so long and clears any residual entanglements around the event (It’s not about “apologising to the other person”, there is no condoning of past grievances or victim blaming here), “Thank you” is about appreciating the lesson it taught you, even if that lesson was hard to carry or had negative consequences at the time, and “I love you” seals the deal, wrapping up the experience and energies with love and releasing them.
You may well feel some resistance to doing this (I know I have in the past) because letting it go is very, very scary. However, know that doing forgiveness work on the past will change your future life, so leave me a comment about what you are forgiving, and we can start working on connecting those dots!
Catch you next time!