Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D.
It’s almost upon us. Spring cleaning. That yearly activity where many of us do heavy duty cleaning, organizing, and perhaps this year with “coronapocalypse” upon us, disinfecting every area of our homes.
Whether, as some suggest, this yearly cleansing is connected to the Persian New Year, the ancient practice of Jews thoroughly cleaning their homes for Passover, the Catholic church cleaning the altar before Good Friday, or early 19th century American cleaning during March because of the warmer weather allowing open windows, deep cleaning at this time of the year is firmly planted within our lives.
Spring cleaning, however, isn’t only something to do within the walls of one’s home. For many in marital distress, emotional Spring cleaning is a wise thing to do as one moves through divorce. A recent analysis found that divorce filings climb in January and February, peaking in the Spring. Facebook data analysts found a spike in breakups in the Spring and Summer. Some believe it’s related to more sunlight that brings clarity and better vision, energy, optimism and hopefulness – for something better in life.
So how do you handle this emotional Spring cleaning going through divorce? Here are 5 steps to spring forward, with a clean, fresh start, breathing easier – yes, it can be done.
- It’s Spring, so enjoy fresh air. But how can you do this if you’re carrying around stale air? Get a grasp of the heavy self-disturbing emotions, the damaging and destructive ones that you’ve been lugging around behind you. This requires that you acknowledge your old out-of-season thinking. How else will you know what you need to toss out?
- Throw away the junk. It’s time to sweep out old downbeat patterns and discouraging thoughts that no longer serve you that weigh you down. You wouldn’t keep an old torn and tattered coat? It’s time for a new wardrobe of more constructive, self-affirming emotions. Angry? Who says s/he MUST or OUGHT to behave in a certain way? Sad? Have you lost something or are you actually gaining something more valuable? Anxious? Are you predicting some awful outcome or can you clear your lens to see that at worst it’ll only be difficult and likely to be much better than you imagine. Beating yourself up is yesterday. Pack it up, put it in that trash bag and move forward.
- Now that you’ve made some room, it’s time to rearrange your belongings…your emotional belongings. Box up those hurts, the real pain, and take them out to the side of the road. Can you replace anger with healthier frustration? What about replacing sadness with just some healthy, reasonable, understandable down time? And anxiety? How about substituting normal concern? Get it? Replace unhealthy with healthy, swap ugly old furnishings in your mind with brighter colors around your life that’ll enliven you, fill you with healthier hope and energy, minimize your self-disturbance and leave you with more uncluttered space for happiness and fulfillment.
- Share some of what you’ve got left after cleansing out all of the negative. That’d be you! That’s right, share you. Don’t spend time alone, share it with others who thrust you forward in life. Those who drag and weigh you down? That’s what the trash dump is for. This will help you see divorce doesn’t have to be an “alone experience.” From your compassionate family law attorney, positivity coach, wonderful and true friends and family, there are many who may have been in the back of your closet – it’s time to bring them all forward in your life. Decide that you’ll not live through the rearview mirror and watch what appears in the windshield.
- Celebrate your Spring, emotional divorce cleaning. Ahhh, look around. See and feel the new you? Sure it’s still tough going, but doesn’t it feel only that, just tough, not impossible? With this new Spring cleaning, you realize that you never have to drag back what you tossed out. You don’t let what s/he did be an excuse for you to live with what you no longer want. Divorce, handled well means you recognize you never settle for where you are in life.
Spring cleaning is a time to let go of the old. When it comes to cleaning through the process of divorce, during the Spring or at any time of the year, your new, healthier mindset leaves you free of self-pity, of poisoning your future and able to move to better days, better relationships and a better life. Carrying around the old trash, focused on disappointment, angry, fearful, leaves no room for a new, beautiful, bright spring.