During the dark, cold days of January----possibly inspired by the “clean slate” of a brand new year-----I undertook a major clean-up of my office. Evidently, when I started this job many years ago, I thought every piece of paper I received was sacred. I was rapidly running out of storage space, so I began the process of cleaning, sorting, shredding and tossing. As the job progressed, a few things became apparent. First, I was probably about one ream of paper away from a visit from the nice folks at the Hoarders TV show. I had a lot of moments asking………Why did I save that?.....How long has that law been obsolete?……Whatever were you thinking when you saved that??? As I sorted, cleaned, tossed and carted off to the dumpster, I had an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and a new sense of organization. Coming to the office, opening a desk drawer or file drawer became a much more pleasant experience.
As I reflected on how cathartic this experience was and the benefits I continued to reap, it occurred to me that the same thing happens with our lives. The experiences we live through, some good, but often the more unpleasant ones, live on in our heads and our hearts. They add up and eventually become the “baggage” that we drag with us as we continue our lives. While the pleasant memories can bring happiness, the less pleasant cause stress, heart-ache and possibly additional unpleasant experiences to become more baggage. The baggage we carry may cause physical and emotional issues that negatively impact our lives. Future relationships can be affected by issues from past relationships. Anxiety, depression, sleep disorders and other emotional problems may come from unresolved past issues. Heart problems, weight issues, hypertension and autoimmune disorders can be caused or negatively affected by stress. If nothing else, unresolved stress can simply rob you of the ability to enjoy life.
January is long gone, which for many people like me, removes one stressor…..the gray, cold days…..but spring time is an even better time to “clean house”, literally and figuratively. The shine and sparkle of a freshly cleaned house is refreshing. The same thing can happen when we clean house in our mind and bodies.
“Don’t let the past wreck your future.” “Quit renting space in your head to him/her/it/them.” “Look forward, not backward.” All of this is well-meant advice, but not that easy to do without help sometimes. The first step is to figure out what is holding you back; once you know, you can formulate a plan to deal with the issue. Self-help books are available everywhere and sometimes can work for you. Professional counselors are available in a variety of fields as are group counseling situations and self-help groups, 12-Step and otherwise. If your issues include family abuse of any sort, Dove offers a variety of services in all of our offices. We are well-equipped to offer assistance to victims and their families with counseling, legal advocacy and many other services to help you “clean house” in your mind and heart. Our services are free, confidential and “you-centered” so we can help you recover from domestic abuse, whether it happened yesterday or twenty years ago. As you begin this “cleaning” process, remember to also take care of your body. Eat well, exercise, get plenty of sleep, and take time to do some fun things for yourself, even for just a few minutes a day.
My cleaning project took several days, but weeks later I still see the benefits daily. Cleaning your mind and heart will be a continuing process, but the improvement you experience will be well worth it. If we here at Dove can help with your cleaning project, please call us for an appointment. We will help you become the best “you” possible. Make yourself a priority this spring…….it will be so worth it.
Shelby County Coordinator
Domestic Violence Program