Changing Places Workshop - Clearing Background

ComplexThis part of the workshop is complicated and extremely useful. These concepts apply to all of life. If you understand yourself, you will have an easier time navigating all of life’s lessons and challenges. We all make assumptions about ourselves, our abilities and how we compare to others.

Those assumptions build the stories we tell ourselves. These stories shape our realities, in terms of our homes, jobs, and relationships (with ourselves and others).

People tell me that when they start working this part of the clearing process, they mold and shape their lives.

The process of examining yourself can be overwhelming. But this is a different experience of figuring out you. When you are physically sorting through your belongings, you are actively doing something, and at times it is rote and routine

You look at and touch or hold items, some of which you may not have looked at for a while. Each item has energy you can feel. Each has a story. Those stories change over time, as we re-remember what we were doing when we acquired these items. Remembering an emotionally-charged event is a different experience every time you look at the item.

But before people start sorting, it’s important to understand the background of this clearing process as a helping, coping and useful tool. This can be a transformational process.

Brain science explains why we get blocked when we decide to clear out a house completely or clear clutter. The limbic system is the emotional center of the brain. This area is not wired for language. This may partially explain why you are unable to describe your feelings when overwhelmed. Research also shows that the functions of feeling and processing emotions are spread throughout the brain. Brain science is complicated.

Neurons are the basic cells in the brain. They talk to one another when they pass information from one to the other. When neurons talk to one another, they are wiring together. The more they wire together, the stronger their connections are. Their connections create pathways that get stronger with use. “Neurons that wire together fire together” describes that relationship.

“Use it or lose it” also describes that relationship. If you want to create new skills, you have to practice over and over and over for a new skill to become a habit.

When we get overwhelmed with details, emotions or the enormity of situations, we freeze. The amygdala gets stimulated, and strong emotions prevent us from thinking, acting and following through with decisions.

When we freeze, we don’t believe that we will live through the situation

But, if we take slow deep breaths and calm ourselves down in the face of the situation, and we take small actions that move us forward, then we see that that we are strong and capable and can overcome blocks. This realization strengthens our confidence and changes how we see ourselves. Situation we once labeled as “crisis” can be transformed into tests.

As we change ourselves in terms of how we see situations, we change how we see the world. Abraham Maslow, Ph.D. created his Hierarchy of Needs – an explanation of the human experience, broken into five tiers:  survival, security, belonging, self-worth and self-actualization. The tiers are shaped like a pyramid with survival on the bottom.

Once you can see which one you are in when you are in various situations, you can start to understand what your main issues in life are and where in the pyramid they fall.

Grief is an important part of the clearing process. The five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depressed, acceptance) are like an onion. You peel them away as you process situations, and as you peel away more layers, you delve deeper and deeper into the grief

At a certain point, grief transforms itself, and you move from feeling the bereft, deep hopelessness to a lighter, loving feeling of connection to an essence of wisdom and learning

This is how I’ve experienced my grief over the years. I have faced a lot of loss, and now see the phases and layers of the grief process. Some parts of the process are of grief as itself and are not connected to the loved one who has died, or the memories of long-ago events that suddenly surface and take over very existence with their intensity.

There is more to this section of the workshop, but this gives you a broad overview. Some people decide they want to locate a counselor for help. It is essential that you listen to yourself and follow your wants and needs for assistance to move through difficulties.

Sources: A User’s Guide to the Brain John J. Rately MD (2001), Emotional Intelligence Daniel Goleman (1995).

Read the last blog entry for the nuts and bolts of clearing homes.

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