Federico Stevanin took thisThis time of year is associated with new beginnings, spring cleaning and rebirth. Why not embody the spirit of the season for some transformational personal growth? Here are some exercises to help you let go of what no longer serves you and welcome in the new. 

1. Pivot. Identify a limiting belief that you have long held. You know–that repetitive negative self-talk? We all do it, although our messages differ. What thought keeps getting in your way? Once you find it, deconstruct it. Is it absolutely true? Or somewhat of an illusion? Have you automatically believed it for so long that you hadn’t stopped to consider the absurdity of it? For example, if the thought is, “I can’t cook,” ask if that is actually the case. Of course not. Then, replace that thought with something affirming, such as, “The more I cook, the better I get at it. People always love my Potatos a la Pete.” The next time you hear that testy old voice criticizing you, pivot to the positive thought.

Invitation: Write down the limiting belief on a scrap of paper. Prepare to release it for good. Then, with enthusiasm, burn it or tear it up. Next, write down the positive antedote to that limiting old noise you’ve been buying into too long. Post that loving thought in your kitchen window sill until it sinks in.

2. Release. Ever hear someone tell their victim story one too many times? They whine through their misfortunes like a broken record, finding significance in their wounds. Do you have a story that is holding you back? Maybe you only tell it to yourself, but even so, the more you tell it, the more power it has. What beliefs have you constructed based on what has happened to you? For example, “My sister is the outgoing one. Everyone loves her. I’ll never be popular.” Dismantle the belief a bit. Does the fact that your sister makes friends easily really stop you from having more than enough friends as well? Think of the friendships you do have and be grateful for them. Notice that maybe you are socially quite satisfied, when you think about it.

Invitation: Take a walk to a designated spot and allow yourself to think about this story one last time, with the knowledge that you are done with it when you reach your stopping place. Dislodge it. Unravel it. Begin to let go. When you arrive at your sacred spot, which could simply be a mile marker or a tree, release it in your own way. (Shake it out, pick up a stone to represent the story and throw it as far as you can, send the story up to the skies with a sweep of your arms…whatever feels right.) Then, on the way back, anchor in your positive outlook and newly found freedom. Notice how it feels to be you without your baggage. Do you feel lighter? Carefree? Hopeful? Run!

3. Restart. Are you holding a grudge? If so, you guessed it–you are only hurting yourself. The negative energy it takes to stay mad at someone else is self-defeating. Accept that people are imperfect and make mistakes.  To feel some freedom, choose someone to forgive and release judgment against them. While you’re at it, find something to forgive in yourself as well. For example, if Ted never returned those Prada sunglasses he borrowed, realize that maybe your next pair suits you much better. Then, forgive yourself for your part in your misery. Did you fail to remind or confront him? Have you made a similar mistake with another friend and forgotten to return something? Did you neglect to follow your gut about lending them in the first place. Own up. Learn something. Let it go.

Invitation: Take a page to write about what upset you and why. Give yourself one more chance to feel angry. Find the message in it. What can you learn about yourself from this experience. Then, go ahead and forgive. In this example, perhaps you might write, “I forgive you, Clayton, for hanging onto my favorite pair of shades.” Then, take it a step further and forgive yourself. As in “I forgive myself for clinging to negativity for so long. I realize I need to communicate more openly when someone takes advantage of me.” Finally, shred or recycle the whole shebang and be done with it.

Here’s to a fresh start and plenty of new space for goodness and love to flow!

PS You know that restart idea that occured to you as you were reading this? Do it!