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Making room for Change…

Psychotherapy — admin @ 3:14 pm

It’s January 6th, that time of year again when the Christmas decorations come down. For some there is a sadness that the holiday period is over and a dread of going back to work. For others there’s an urgency to get the decorations down and a desire to get back to routine. Most of us get fed up of the clutter of decorations, it’s more difficult to clean up and there’s a healthy sense of moving on with the New Year.
Now imagine that clutter all year round, every day. Imagine if you had retained all the material things you ever owned, never thrown anything out…think of all you would have accumulated, those things you no longer need but have held on to. It would surely result in many a ‘rubbish’ room where the door was closed over and the room no longer habitable. The attic would be top heavy with things, every cupboard full, every room cluttered, hardly leaving room to live and breathe. Would your current home hold it all? It’s doubtful.
If you’ve ever hired a skip and cleared your house you will understand how therapeutic it can be. Clearing out leaves more room in the house for furniture to be rearranged and even the introduction of new pieces that will enhance your everyday living, if you choose well. And there is an associated contentment that helps free life up for a while.
This analogy can be used to describe the mind, where we store all of our life experiences. The conscious part of our mind can be compared to the rooms that we consciously use in our everyday lives. We know them, we think about them. The unconscious can be compared to the attic or the basement where past memories and experiences are stored. There’s lot we shove up into the attic because we just need to get rid of it, we don’t have the time or energy to sort it first. Unfortunately it’s still there, still needs to be dealt with. Eventually it will come tumbling down.
Now imagine how cluttered your mind is if you have never looked at what its carrying, never stopped to empty out what is no longer of use to you, sorting through and letting go of negative clutter. Like the house, the mind becomes clogged, with no room for new experiences. Like the house, it too, will cease to have the capacity to hold everything and will eventually only manage to barely function. Freeing up your mind from things that bother you and the ‘stuff’ that keeps resurfacing, no matter how hard you try to ignore it, is like the house clutter. It will still be there until you decide to sort it for once and for all.
This doesn’t mean everything changes. Like the furniture and ornaments, there will be some good pieces that you treasure and want to hold onto. Sometimes, quite naturally, we are afraid to even think of changing things, in case it all falls apart. The awful reality may be that you are barely holding it together anyway. Change is always slow and often subtle. There doesn’t have to be a big ‘showdown’ where everything about you changes overnight. Like the hamster on the wheel that just keeps spinning around, we get into a rut. The hamster uses all his energy to keep doing what he’s doing, never lifting his head but he’s going nowhere. All he manages to do is exhaust himself. If only he could pause and get off the wheel he would notice that the door to the cage and to freedom has been open all along. He just didn’t notice it because he was so busy keeping going, for fear he would fall off. Similarly for us, often due to pressures and constraints of life, we don’t notice that there is actually a way out of the rut, a way to effect change in our lives.

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