Cleaning Out the Closets of Your Mind

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(Image: Double Daffodils and Pink Giant Hyacinths from my garden)

I love Spring. We pull our grumpy winter selves out from under the blankets and back out into the sunshine. If you’re like me, you shed the old stuff from closets and drawers to make room for the new. This morning I noticed a ragged old sweat shirt I’ve had for about ten years. It once belonged to a heather purple jogging outfit I thought was pretty stylin’ back then. Gawd knows what happened to the pants.  Why have I kept it so long if I never wear it? No idea.

There are other closets that need to be cleaned out now and again. Preconceived notions of people or things need to be reexamined. Ideas I thought were outlandish or just plain wrong in my youth have a different hue when I study them with wisdom coming from life experience (okay…age if you want to be a stickler).  Some certainties I once believed were unshakably accurate, have changed as the world has changed.

Take a Step Back: One of my biggest personality flaws is taking for granted the people in my life never change. I have friends I may not speak to for months if not years (Not making the effort to stay in contact with loved ones is another personality flaw for another day). We get together for dinner or a chat. In my mind, no time has passed and this person sitting across from me hasn’t had any life changing experiences. I don’t consider they may have grown as a person.

This flaw came back to bite me about a year ago. I was on travel for the day job and made arrangements to meet with an old friend of mine who lived in the area. Her life had dramatically changed and because we hadn’t been in touch, I was caught off guard by this new person I no longer knew. We muddled through an awkward dinner. I’m sorry to say, my friend and I haven’t spoken since.

Friends and family are precious. I don’t own them. They don’t sit on a shelf waiting for me to pick them up again. I consciously make the effort to take a step back and reexamine the people I think I know.

  • Listen: I turn off the “I already know everything about this person” record in my mind and I listen to what they’re telling me
  • Let Go: I consciously make the effort to let go of my pre-conceived notions of this person.  People change. Sometimes for the good and sometimes for the not so good
  • Respect: I respect the change in this person and treat them accordingly. If they’ve changed into someone that isn’t good for me, then I respect myself by taking them out of my life

Final Thoughts: There are some things I will never get rid of like my tattered old writing sweater. Sure, it’s seen better days, but it’s comforting and still of value. Other things will never go out of style or become threadbare: integrity, honesty and hard work. These things should be worn proudly and never be tucked away or thrown out.

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