Easter, whether you celebrate it as a religious/spiritual day, is a reminder that Spring is here and it’s time to take stock. For Christians, it is a time to celebrate the resurrection of Christ after his suffering and death on the cross. It is a time of deep reflection. And it’s time for “Spring Cleaning.”
Remember when we used to do “Spring Cleaning?” Perhaps you still do. Every piece of furniture was moved so every inch of the floor could be cleaned, curtains were washed or sent to the dry cleaners, rugs were removed, hung on the clothes line (remember those) and the dust beaten out of them. Everything was polished and shined, the winter bedspreads were replaced with something light for summer. Nothing was left unturned or unwashed.
For all of us, it is a time to reflect on who we are and what kind of new beginnings, resurrections, are needed in our own lives. We have come out of the heavy, cold and gray days of winter. Flowers are blooming, trees are getting their leaves. Everything is becoming new and fresh again. Nature is having its annual resurrection. All around us we are reminded that we have another chance to get it right.
There are a few things we need to do, however, to make the most of our new opportunity—to capitalize on our own personal Spring Cleaning.
Forgivness. This is the equivalent of taking all the furniture out of your internal house. Take a look. Ask yourself:
- Am I holding a grudge against anyone?
- Am I angry with anyone?
- Is there anyone in my life that causes me to feel negative emotions when I see them or think of them?
- Am I angry with myself?
If you answered yes to any of these, take time now to let it go.According to Fred Luskin, a noted authority on forgiveness, there are nine steps to take:
1. Know exactly how you feel about what happened and be able to articulate what about the situation is not OK. Then, tell a trusted couple of people about your experience.
2. Make a commitment to yourself to do what you have to do to feel better. Forgiveness is for you and not for anyone else.
3. Forgiveness does not necessarily mean reconciliation with the person that hurt you, or condoning of their action. What you are after is to find peace. Forgiveness can be defined as the “peace and understanding that come from blaming that which has hurt you less, taking the life experience less personally, and changing your grievance story.”
4. Get the right perspective on what is happening. Recognize that your primary distress is coming from the hurt feelings, thoughts and physical upset you are suffering now, not what offended you or hurt you two minutes – or ten years -ago. Forgiveness helps to heal those hurt feelings.
5. At the moment you feel upset practice a simple stress management technique to soothe your body’s flight or fight response.
6. Give up expecting things from other people, or your life , that they do not choose to give you. Recognize the “unenforceable rules” you have for your health or how you or other people must behave. Remind yourself that you can hope for health, love, peace and prosperity and work hard to get them.
7. Put your energy into looking for another way to get your positive goals met than through the experience that has hurt you. Instead of mentally replaying your hurt seek out new ways to get what you want.
8. Remember that a life well lived is your best revenge. Instead of focusing on your wounded feelings, and thereby giving the person who caused you pain power over you, learn to look for the love, beauty and kindness around you. Forgiveness is about personal power.
9. Amend your grievance story to remind you of the heroic choice to forgive.
The practice of forgiveness has been shown to reduce anger, hurt depression and stress and leads to greater feelings of hope, peace, compassion and self confidence. Practicing forgiveness leads to healthy relationships as well as physical health. It also influences our attitude which opens the heart to kindness, beauty, and love. http://www.learningtoforgive.com/steps.htm
Self Assessment – This is the equivalent of scrubbing and polishing.
- Take a look at your strengths and weaknesses. I almost hate to bring this up again – and I’m sure this won’t be the last time. But assess strengths and weaknesses. What are your really good at and what do you love to do? Focus on these. Make them even better or use them even more. Note your weaknesses. It’s important to be aware of them and make improvements where you can. The point here is to become aware of who you are.
- Assess your beliefs. Yes, again. What do you believe that are your beliefs? Those you’ve examined and made a commitment to? Not just what you have accepted because someone told you to believe that way. In the case of religious beliefs, have you examined them, and with an informed mind and open heart, accepted them fully? Or do you just go through the motions because this is what you’ve always done or were told was the only way? Ditto for political stands. Are you a Democrat or Republican because your dad was and his dad was and his dad was? Isn’t it time to make an informed decision for your self. Go through the major areas of your life. You may need to gather more information, do some serious reflection, and ask a lot of questions before you formulate a statement of what you believe.
- Goals, Desires, and Dreams Do you know clearly what you want and what you need to do to have it? Have your goals, desires and/or dreams changed? What are they now? Did you write it down and put it in a place where you can be reminded of what your goals, desires, and dreams are on a regular basis? The old saying, “Out of sight, out of mind” applies here.
Self Approval – this is the phase of putting everything you’ve cleaned back into your very clean house. When you finish you stand back, smile and say, “Ohhh, this is good. This feels soooo wonderful. MMMM. Fresh and clean.” You probably sit and enjoy it and for days or weeks, you feel good about what you’ve done. Do this for yourself.
When you’ve dropped the old baggage of anger and disappointment through forgiveness, have a clearer picture of who you are, what your strengths are and what you believe, you will have your own personal resurrection, a new beginning, a fresh start.
About the Author
Irene Conlan is the owner and editor of The Self Improvement Blog. Now retired, she has a Master’s Degree in Nursing, a PhD in Metaphysics and a love for helping others.