Home Heart Healthy Tips It’s time for emotional spring cleaning. How to declutter your heart - South China Morning Post

It’s time for emotional spring cleaning. How to declutter your heart - South China Morning Post

9 min read

It is that time of the year again when people go through the annual ritual of spring cleaning, clearing out the old to make room for the new and ushering in a fresh beginning.

This recurring tradition is practised by most cultures, with people customarily cleaning their houses during springtime or at the end of the year.

This is not only a way to get their home in order, but also a symbolic gesture to demonstrate their willingness to embrace a new year with hope, confidence, commitment and maybe even a certain degree of courage.

The phrase “spring cleaning” is also used metaphorically for any kind of heavy-duty cleansing. It may be something tangible or even intangible, such as delving into the emotional aspects of a relationship to rid it of bad elements.

Emotional spring cleaning can be likened to detoxing to maintain and improve physical wellness, because it involves purging all the things that are poisoning your psyche and inner well-being.

So how do you get started?

The fundamental goal is to flush out negative elements to make room for positive ones. During the process of cleansing yourself emotionally, you also need to input positive feelings such as love, hope, and vitality to empower your emotional space.

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For people who are in a committed relationship, emotional spring cleaning is about taking a good, honest look at life with your partner to see whether anything needs fixing. This can range from minor tweaking or repairing to clearing out “broken items” such as unresolved issues, negative sentiments or misunderstandings.

And maybe at the end of it, you might even see a need for a complete overhaul or something more dramatic like starting off afresh. Whatever the outcome, you must be brave enough to tackle and confront it.

During the cleansing process, you must first look at your partner with total honesty to see whether they are making sufficient and positive contributions to keep your shared emotional space in a healthy condition.

One guiding principle is that a good partner does not only have a big loving heart, but also shows kindness towards you and others around you. I always believe that how a person makes others feel around them shows a lot about their true character. And no one can deny that a warm and kind person always draws people towards them, which is one crucial quality of a truly good partner in life.

This exercise allows you to check the emotional inventory of your relationship and evaluate what needs improving and what needs to go. Sometimes, you may discover things as simple as annoying habits or a lack of intimate times together. But other times you might uncover much more serious marriage issues resulting from years of neglect. That is why it is so important to do this kind of inner spring cleaning regularly.

For single people, you can take this spring cleaning opportunity to clear out negativities such as anger, fear, guilt, jealousy, insecurity, and any emotional baggage from previous relationships that have been haunting and poisoning your emotional well-being. Remember, you do not have to tackle it on your own: you can speak to friends, close relatives or counsellors about it and then start rebuilding your self-confidence to pave the way for new relationships in the coming year.

Do not cling on to unhappy emotions or people who are the source of such feelings

Letting go of bad feelings can take time for sure, but while you are working on that it might be helpful to introduce some nice emotional elements into your life to dilute the negative ones. You can start the new year with expanding your social circle, hanging out with different types of people beyond your regular social network and making new friends. This way you can be distracted from any undesirable feelings and ultimately be able to offload them and carry on with a positive attitude.

For single people, take this time to renew connections with the world around you, be active both on a personal and social level, and spend quality time with your family and friends. When you are surrounded by people who love you, the caring feeling is contagious and this will make it easier for you to give and receive love.

It does not matter whether you are single or attached – you need to regularly declutter and detox your heart and emotional space. You need to get rid of destructive thoughts and sentiments as well as bad vibes that are harming your emotional house, like cancer cells spreading and destroying your inner well-being.

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Welcome to the new year. Do not cling on to unhappy emotions or people who are the source of such feelings, and don’t let them get in the way of your long-term happiness. Ready yourself with an open heart and energised attitude so that you can embrace the exciting romantic adventures that await you.

Luisa Tam is a senior editor at the Post

illustration: Marcelo Duhalde

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