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"Spring Cleaning:" Beyond the Closets and Yard Work (Guest post by Michelle MacGregor)

I love this time of year! Spring is showing itself in different ways now; more sun, birds, buds and blooms, new life, warmer temperatures, and typically more “love is in the air.” It’s a season of new beginnings, anticipation, and hope of what’s ahead. It’s also the time of year for cleaning “stuff” out; the closet, the garage, the overgrown yard. We get the urge to organize and do some heavy-duty cleaning. The spring is a fresh start. While many new relationships form in the spring and even college campuses are known for the “ring by spring” celebrations, what about the relationships we’ve been in for awhile? They aren’t new and could use a little cleaning up, a little renewal. Over time, relationships certainly go through a variety of phases, but regardless of what phase we’re in, our important relationships deserve our deliberate attention. Consider this reality: relationships are simply a collection of thoughts we have about the people we’re in relationship with. Our relationships with others are dependent on our thoughts about them and determine how we relate to them. If our thoughts about another person create the relationship we have with them, is it possible relationships can be renewed by a little spring cleaning of the mind, so to speak? Just like we go through our closets and clear out items we don’t use or need, our minds require the same kind of cleaning out as well. In my closet, the dresses that look terrific on me, I’ll keep wearing. Those that don’t fit or work for me need to go! In my mind, the thoughts that help me, I want to keep. The thoughts that don’t, I can get rid of or replace. Let’s apply that to our relationships and remember 3 important realities: 1) How you feel about anyone is always determined by how you think about him/her. What we think about others determines everything we feel about them. Love, comes from loving thoughts. Anger, from angry thoughts. Excitement, excited thoughts. Disappointment, you get the idea.

2) What’s in between you and the person you are in relationship with is all of your thinking and all of their thinking. You have to know each other’s thoughts in order to really connect with each other. 3) You can manage your expectations and help determine your own relationship satisfaction. Our relationship satisfaction is always determined by our expectations, which is why in our most important relationships we must examine those and keep them realistic and helpful.

So what do you do with all of that? You seek to strengthen your connection in a fresh, new way. Here’s a process I find helpful: 1) Take a full inventory: know what you’re thinking about the one you care about. The best way to do this is to grab a pen and paper and get it out of your mind. Write his/her name at the top of the page. Then put all of your thoughts down. Give yourself 5-10 minutes and get to writing. One sentence-thought at a time. Don’t edit, change, or judge your thoughts. Include them all; positive and negative. It’s amazing what you discover when you intentionally focus on what you think about a person. 2) Look at your list and ask yourself, “How do I feel when I think that thought?” Each of those sentence-thoughts will create a feeling for you. It’s fascinating. Write that feeling word down, too. What do you notice? Are there any patterns? Are there thoughts and feelings you didn’t know you had? Good ones? Bad ones? 3) Examine your expectations, that “rule book” you have for him/her. What are they? Jot them down. Keep writing. Does the important person in your life know you have them or are they in your head and unspoken? Notice the use of the words “should,” “has to,” or “needs to.” Consider if it’s realistic or necessary to hold that expectation. Sometimes it is. Sometimes it doesn’t have to be. Just like cleaning those items out of the closet, we have to pull our thoughts out and make some decisions about what to do with them. Some good questions to ask yourself: 1. Is this thought-feeling combination helping me? Determine which ones bring positivity and love to the relationship. 2. Have I been keeping this thought longer than I need to? Determine if your attitude is bringing stress or negativity to the relationship or there are areas of needed forgiveness. 3. What should I do with it? Determine if you should keep it, let it go, or replace it. As you do the work of taking a look at your own thoughts, feelings, and expectations, celebrate the ones you love and bring you joy. Enjoy thinking them over and over and share them with the person you care about! As you discover what’s been weighing you down or creating pain and needs to be shared, be courageous and bring those up to talk about what’s going on for you. This kind of vulnerable conversation does wonders for reconnecting hearts again! 5 Things You Can Do For Your Important Relationship:

1. Create your own 30-Day Relationship Renewal Challenge. Each day for 30 days do a little activity, write a note, create a special moment, carve out a little extra time. Get creative. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture, just something to let them know you love them and think good things about them.

2. Write an “I’ve been meaning to tell you” letter. The act of writing it out feels amazing and actually giving it to the one you care about feels even better! Here are some sentence starters for you:

I admire you for ____________ . I’m thankful for _____________. I remember when ____________. You have shown me how and I’m grateful. I love you because _________________. One of my favorite things about you is _______________.

3. Plan a special meal together and commit to talking to them only about their favorite topic(s). What a great time to learn something more from them, see joy on their face, and seek to appreciate new things about them. During the conversation, be ready to ask questions about that topic to keep them talking about what they love!

4. Offer a most sincere, heart-felt apology to them where you know they need it most. Spend time considering the old, unhelpful thoughts you’ve held onto that you know have created conflict in the past. Tell them you’re sorry in a way they will believe you.

5. Share a private thought you have about yourself that will reveal a little more of your heart to them. Vulnerability in relationship is so important. Sharing who we are with people we love creates more love between us.

It’s springtime. It’s a great time to take inventory, clean out, keep what is beautiful and good, and let go of what’s not worth hanging on to.

It’s a new season of anticipation and hope of what’s ahead and it’s going to be good.

“Michelle MacGregor is a Life Coach, serving individuals and couples in all areas of life, work, and relationships for their greatest levels of emotional, relational, and performance health. A particular focus is helping others break free from The Performance Trap: Stop People-Pleasing, Overcome Perfectionism, and End Procrastination. Get a free, downloadable copy of The 7 Realities of Life to Know and Understand at Measured Lives Coaching and Care.”

Thanks for posting on the website’s blog, Michelle!



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