Written by Writer’s Corps member Gussie Bryan
Spring is here, and you know what that means! It’s time to get moving, enjoy the outdoors and yes, clean up.
The task of spring-cleaning is daunting. It comes around every year, but it never seems to get any easier. Stuff has been piling up all winter, and we’ve gotten used to shutting the closet door and forgetting about the mess. I’ll deal with it later, you tell yourself.
Well, folks, the time has come!
Please do clean out your closet, but we’re here to talk about relationships. Here are a few steps to spring-clean your way to healthy, loving relationships this season:
Step 1: Open Up the Closet
I know it’s scary, but just take a deep breath and open the door – to your heart, that is. Before you start cleaning, you need to assess the situation. What kinds of relationships have you been letting into your life? Are a lot of them draining? Do they make you happy? Do you need more variety to find a better balance? That’s all this step is about – evaluation. No rash decisions, just checking out the scene.
Step 2: Make Three Piles
The next step is to get in there and sort through everything. When I clean out my closet, I make three piles – keep, alter, throw out (I usually donate, but for the sake of argument). What relationships do you love, and why do you love it? Are you holding onto a partner or a friend out of obligation and loyalty, or do you really care about the relationship? For the relationships in your life that are out-of-date or falling apart, can you do anything to salvage them? And for the things, or relationships that don’t quite fit – are they really worth the stress?
Step 3: Dust the Dark Corners
Once you finish sorting through everything, take the relationships that you are evaluating and start communicating with the people in them. Are there things that have gone unsaid? Are those things taking up space in your relationships? You might be one heartfelt conversation away from getting over a hurdle in your relationship or bringing clarity that things just aren’t working out. It’s time to be open, honest and humble. Apologize where you’ve been in the wrong. Ask for an apology where you’ve been hurt. A clean conscience makes for a healthy foundation on which a relationship can grow and prosper.
Step 4: Fold and Color-Code
Ok, maybe color-coding is a bit extreme, but it does make for strong visual appeal. The point here is to consciously organize the relationships you keep close to your heart. Perhaps some people in your life need more boundaries than others. It’s important to know the difference and keep a clear understanding of their role in your life so you can protect your heart.
Step 5: Step Back and Love What You See
I love this William Morris quote – “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” The same goes for your relationships. Welcome and nurture relationships that are beneficial and beautiful. Clean out the ones that aren’t, and step back and love what you see.
Think about this project as a way to protect your heart. It’s a process that takes effort and careful attention. But at the end of the day, a healthy heart exudes love and joy, and I think we could all benefit from that.
Happy spring cleaning!