The Hallmark Channel Countdown to Christmas movie series is premiering, stores are stocked with the latest and greatest toys that will be on every child’s wish list, and radio stations will soon begin to play Christmas carols, greeting us with holiday cheer each time we reach for the dial. The holiday season is almost upon us, which means that soon, many of our homes will be bustling with family, friends, and loved ones, gathered from near and far to celebrate the season.
While I am sure that many of us plan to engage in the usual chores of wiping down, straightening up, and throwing out before company arrives, this year, let’s also take some time to reflect on the underlying message that is sometimes held in the always daunting process of cleaning.
Sure, this is often the time of the year when we clear out all the cabinets in preparation of mass volumes of ingredients to be stocked, vacuum in all the forgotten corners, and find a home for the rogue sock that we found behind the couch that has, presumably, been sitting back there since Valentine’s Day, judging by the smiling hearts that adorn it. But shouldn’t anticipation of the “most wonderful time of the year” be about more than just clearing the physical spaces around us in an attempt to impress others? Shouldn’t we also be cleaning our minds, getting rid of all the clutter that has accumulated, and finding hope in the refreshment of our very selves?
Thus, I present to you – Self-Cleaning!
No, this is not an infomercial for a blender that has the capacity to clear out the gunk that remains after you use it without you having to lift a finger. This process of Self-Cleaning is like pre-holiday cleaning, but much more fun, and meant to bring you back into alignment with who you truly are so that you can love and revel in the upcoming holiday season with a renewed sense of purpose and meaning.
If you’re unsure of how to get started in your self cleaning practice, that’s okay. Together, we’re going to move room by room through ourselves, nourishing the things that belong there, and getting rid of the things that do not. Here’s how…
Entryway. Our entryway is how the world sees us – how we present ourselves to every person we meet. Of course, we know that outward beauty is not as important as what lies within, but we do need to make sure that no matter what, our entryway is welcoming to others.
Consider how you treat someone new when you first meet them – say a family member brings an unexpected guest to a holiday dinner. Would you accept them willingly into your life, or would you first put them through a series of tests to determine whether or not they were worthy enough to remain in your presence? What if that person was different from you in their ethnicity, background, or social status?
If you feel like others may be intimidated by your entryway, consider why this may be, and challenge yourself to grow.
If you feel that you are often slow to accept others because you have a difficult time accepting yourself, stand in front of your mirror and practice loving affirmations and kind speech to yourself. If you know you are wary of interacting with a certain group of individuals because of their differences from you, volunteer for an organization that will allow you to spend more time face-to-face with people who are different, and find common ground with them.
Kitchen. They say the kitchen is the heart of the home, so that means the kitchen of ourselves is literally our hearts. Hopefully, we have hearts that are concerned with being kind, welcoming, generous, and caring. But perhaps your heart is in need of some tidying.
We all accumulate some dust upon our hearts as a result of moving through our days, trying to do our best to love all and to be successful, so cleaning up by removing all the extra weight of our lives that are not serving us is needed. Here, we need to get out the spiritual Windex and clean our hearts to restore them to their purest forms – transparent, loving, and open.
Dining Room. Now, we move into the part of ourselves where we dine with others. This dining does not necessarily mean we need to eat literal food with other people, but rather, it represents our ability to form community with others and grow in our relationships.
Are you ready to share yourself with others? You can make sure by declining to engage with people and communities that nourish you in ways that are not meaningful for your growth.
Much of the encouragement that we receive from our culture, whether it be through standards of conventional beauty or lifestyle give us opportunities to spend time with others eating only empty calories – we don’t need them to thrive.
Instead, we need to turn to the people and things that fill us with happiness, peace, and contentment. In the long run, we’ll find that the time spent with them is the food our minds really need.
Bathroom. Each of us struggle with things privately. What are you struggling with today? What problems and worries do you not want the world to know that you are dealing with? Now is the time to remove them.
Feeling troubled will add nothing to our lives, so it’s time to unburden our shoulders of our personal challenges. We can accomplish this task by finding someone that we trust, like a family member, friend, or therapist, who will understand our struggles and accept us anyway. When we let others remove the weight we are carrying, we lose the need to hide our pain.
Bedroom. What clutter do we have in our lives that is keeping us from finding rest and care? Maybe you feel like we have spread yourself so thin that you just don’t have time to take things slow and relax. Or maybe you think that because the other rooms of yourself have become so messy, you would feel embarrassed to take a break. Whatever the reason, it needs to be cleared out!
When we take time for self-care and focus on exactly what we need to thrive, we find light and renewal. We all deserve to focus on ourselves and take a break when we need it, regardless of the tasks that lie ahead of us. When we are restored, our work will be refreshed, and we will be of higher aide to others when they need us. So go ahead – take that bubble bath, eat that square of dark chocolate, or go to that yoga class – not only do you deserve it, you need it to thrive!
Living Room. How do we express love in our lives? If you can’t remember the last time you told someone close to you that you love them because we were distracted by the pile of laundry that needed to be folded or the bills that needed to be paid, a change if focus needs to happen.
Of course, I’m not suggesting that we forgo all of our responsibilities in favor of spreading love to everyone we meet on a non-stop schedule, but I am encouraging each of us to show others that love is alive and well within us. Clearing away the things that have separated us from this truth will bring increased enthusiasm (and love) into our lives.
Garage. This may be the hardest of all the rooms of ourselves to clean. This is the catch-all for the things that had nowhere else to be placed. Is that a grudge from the sixth grade sitting over there in the corner? No judgment – just asking.
Cleaning out our garage isn’t easy, but it is so needed. The items here are the things that we just cannot let go of, no matter how many times we’ve tried to push them out of our mind and into a dark recess where no one can find them.
It’s time to own up to all of that junk.
Spend some time in your garage, letting go of all the things you thought were impossible to move on from. You likely won’t clean out this space in one day, and that’s okay. It’s here that you will learn and practice forgiveness of others, and of yourself.
Forgiveness might mean that you need to accept an apology from someone who never actually apologized to you after you had been hurt. Or it might mean that you need to apologize to someone else for your own behavior; that someone may even be yourself.
Whatever type of forgiveness needs to be extended is okay to admit, remember, there really is no judgment here! But this process will only work if each of us chooses to embrace it with our whole self, and feel renewed in our own power as we box up the tangle before us and move it out of ourselves for good.