We may not experience the cool breeze of spring in Malaysia, but we could always do with some good old-fashioned spring cleaning! Spring cleaning involves heavy duty cleaning and organising one’s home, but it can also be applied to our personal lives – clearing out the mental and physical blockages that are preventing us from being our best selves.
We tend to hold onto things that we know are bad for us, like grudges and unhealthy habits, because as taxing as they are, the familiarity of these negative emotions and behaviours provide us with an unlikely comfort. To overcome this fear of letting go, we must remind ourselves that it will allow exciting new ideas and opportunities to enter our lives.
Start looking into these areas of your life and remove what no longer serves you:
- Your physical space
Begin by decluttering your surroundings – your bedroom, wardrobe, desk. This clutter is one of the ways we overwhelm ourselves with things that don’t matter. Work is stressful enough, but a messy workplace, with stacks of paper covering our desks, will just add to our anxiety. Try these cleaning tips if you don’t where to start.
- Your body
Have you been filling your body with nutrients? Notice what gives you energy and cut out what makes you feel bad (bloated, uncomfortable). Revise your workout routine if it’s been too hard to follow and set smaller, more achievable fitness goals instead. If lack of rest and sleep has been affecting your wellbeing, here’s how you can improve your bedtime habits.
- Your digital devices
Unfollow, block, do what you need to do to create a safe and comfortable space for yourself online – it is where we spend most of our time. Go through your email accounts and unsubscribe from overwhelming newsletters, reduce the clutter on your desktop by deleting and organising your files – these also count as your workspace, so clear out any unnecessary stress and anxiety.
- Your mind
Release! Write down all your bad habits, negative thoughts you have about yourself and others, unhealthy attachments you have to people and things, and work on letting them go. It’s easier said than done, but by acknowledging your toxic and draining thoughts, it will make it easier for you to recognise and stop them.
- Your finances
Review your finances and see what costs you can reduce or remove, such as memberships and subscriptions, and what debts you can pay off. Get into the habit of tracking your spending daily with these steps. Money can cause a lot of stress and anxiety, so make sure you have a financial self-care routine as well.
- Your relationships
It’s easier to distance yourself from people online, but if a family member or colleague is bringing negativity into your life, set boundaries to protect your mental space. You can learn more about implementing boundaries here. It’s normal to outgrow people, like your best friends from high school, but make sure your current relationships encourage you to keep growing into a happier, healthier person.
See spring cleaning as an annual update rather than a chore. We are constantly changing and evolving, so it’s important to remind ourselves of what really matters to us now. It may not be the same as last year, and may be different next year, but it’ll provide you with the clarity and direction needed to live a happier, more fulfilling life!
Similar to the Yin and Yang, of how two opposites complement each other to make a whole, there is a shadow-side to everything in life – especially in ourselves. Everyone exhibits some form of toxic behaviour. We are only human after all. But what’s important is that we educate ourselves rather than ignore it and continue acting the same away. If you’re ready to be honest and accountable, to be a better version of yourself, we invite you to read on!
What are the common toxic traits?
Some common toxic traits include:
- Being Judgemental
Having standards and not settling for less is one thing, but if you find yourself judging someone because of tiny, minuscule things that don’t define their character – start acknowledging that and actively stopping yourself. Otherwise, it usually implies a hidden or open desire to control or change someone.
When something bad happens to you – are you quick to blame everything around you, including yourself? It’s normal to experience bad days, but when your mind only answers and listens in a negative tone, you won’t be able to appreciate anything in your life.
In a nutshell, to ‘gaslight’ is to invalidate and/or downplay other’s emotions. Gaslighting often occurs when you listen to counter and not listen to understand. Some examples of gaslighting phrases include:
- “Relax, why can’t you just take a joke?”
- “You’re being too sensitive.”
- “You’re crazy to think that!”
- “This is why nobody likes you.”
Using mental tricks for your own personal gain is considered manipulation. Examples of manipulative ways are:
- Guilting someone into doing something for you.
- Exploiting the emotions of others.
- Using the ‘I’m a victim’ card as an excuse.
- Being ignorant of others’ emotions and feelings.
- Disregarding the consequences of their actions.
If any of these sound familiar, it could be time for you to step back and start taking responsibility for your behaviour.
How can I improve?
The first step is to acknowledge your toxic traits and areas of improvement. This could be done by nurturing self-awareness. You can do this by:
- Being brutally honest with yourself.
Recognise and admit to your negative traits.
- Being curious about who you are.
Ask yourself, “What are the qualities I’m putting out there?”, “Why do I do something a certain way?”.
- Putting yourself in the other person’s shoes when in conflict.
Viewing the situation from the other party’s perspective will help you understand them better and manage your emotions. In turn, this will change your actions and lead to a better outcome.
- Reflecting on your emotions and actions.
Review your actions and emotions through journaling or mediation, and reflect to see if you can improve the situation in the future.
When you notice your toxic traits and begin the process of realising how your trauma affects your behaviour, you can start amending and improving your personality. However, if you continue to recycle your pain, the cycles of the same situation will happen again.
Psychologist Dr. Tasha Eurich offers a piece of advice, “Working on your self-awareness will put you ahead of 80 percent of your colleagues. It is the secret ingredient. Don’t put pressure on yourself to do it quickly – be open to what people tell you so that you can make a significant improvement.”
Start becoming aware of your own toxic traits, even if they’re ingrained in niceness. It’ll move you a step closer towards self-acceptance and self-love!