It’s Springtime (no matter what that pesky groundhog may have said), which means it’s time to open up the windows, breathe in the smell of new blooms (hopefully without launching into a sneezing fit) and pull the ol’ capri pants out of storage.

There’s a feeling of renewal in the air… of new beginnings and fresh starts. The New Year’s resolutions have all crashed and burned by now, but that’s a-okay because the warm air brings with it another opportunity to clean up and start over.

Suddenly, even people who hate to clean find themselves excitedly buying a new broom at Target and feverishly clearing out their closets.

Ahh… spring cleaning. It’s a wondrous thing. But today, I want to talk to you for just a few minutes about a different kind of cleaning.

Since spring is a time of new beginnings, there is no better time to clean out all that emotional and spiritual junk that has been cluttering up inside of you. You know what I’m talking about… the grudges you’ve been holding, the people you need to forgive, the regrets you need to let go of, the limiting self-beliefs that need to be kicked to the curb.

It’s all the junk that makes you feel tired, worn down, helpless and possibly even hopeless. And I say it’s about high time for it to take a hike, don’t you?

Now, I know just reading those last two paragraphs may have sent some of you into a full-blown anxiety attack. It’s not exactly a fun thing to do. After all… that is why you shoved it all down in the first place. But it is a freeing thing to do.

And that’s what it’s all about, right?

Feeling cleaner, lighter and freer? Not only in your home, but also in your spirit.

So, if you’re ready to get cleaned up and poised for your new beginning – here are some effective (even if they’re not so easy) tips to spring clean your soul.

To regret means to “feel sad, repentant or disappointed over something that has happened or been done” (Google Dictionary). Now right off the bat, you need to pay attention to something in that definition… do you know what it is? It’s past tense. You can’t regret something that hasn’t happened yet or is currently happening. You can only regret something that has already happened or been done which, in and of itself, is fruitless. If something is in the past, then you can do absolutely nothing to change it. No matter how hard you try. It was already over and done with. So, ruminating over it with regret won’t do anything except make you feel miserable.

Now, of course, there may be decisions in your past that you wish you didn’t make or things you did that you wish you could take back. But instead of regretting them – a wasteful emotion that only causes you turmoil – why not choose to learn from them instead and move on? Often, it’s from some form of misplaced guilt, where you believe if you just regret it enough, for a long enough period of time… then “they” (whoever they are) will know that you’re really sorry. Except, that too, is a lie. Half the time, the “they” you are imaginarily making amends to, doesn’t even realize that you’re walking around carrying all that weight. So, make the intentional effort to let go of regrets – whether they are over something you did to yourself or others – learn from the experience(s) and let it go.

Which brings us straight into the next tip – say you’re sorry. There will be some cases where you owe someone a heartfelt apology (I’m guessing they are already popping to mind right now) and for those, you need to put your big girl (or boy) panties on and just do it.

Again, this may not sound super fun, and it will require some humility on your part. But, you (and the other person involved) will never be able to truly move on, until you apologize. How you decide to apologize will depend on the situation – you may have to rely on the phone or sending a letter if they live far away from you. Although email and Facebook are okay, they’re a little on the impersonal side. So, try to avoid them or at least, only use them for the initial contact and then ask if you can speak by phone.

It doesn’t have to be super fancy or a long dissertation. Most of the time, the offended person just wants to hear you acknowledge your wrongdoing and offer a sincere apology. That’s it. Whether it leads to a mended relationship or not, you can rest easier (and feel lighter!) knowing that you took responsibility and did your part.

(Note: Please realize that this does not apply to anyone who puts you in danger. In those types of situations, write an apology letter as if you were speaking to them for the cathartic benefit, but then burn it or throw it away afterward. Do not put yourself in harm’s way.)

Just as you should reach out to others you’ve hurt and tell them you’re sorry, you need to extend forgiveness to those who reach out to you. It’s funny because this can be equally if not more challenging sometimes because we tend to want to hold on to our anger and our bitterness.

Except, guess who it’s hurting?

Yep, you. Refusing to forgive someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to suffer – it’s just not going to happen. Instead, all it does is fester inside of you where it leads not only to emotional fatigue but to physical ailments as well.

It’s time to stop holding on to past grudges and extend forgiveness. Remember, forgiving someone does NOT mean that you are okay with what they did or that it wasn’t wrong. What it does do, however, is release you from the imaginary prison you’ve had yourself trapped inside (I’m guessing, for far too long).

(Note: I would hope that this is obvious, but again, please do not reach out to someone that is dangerous in order to forgive them. Although it is indeed healthier for you to forgive them and move on, you can do so without actually speaking to them or seeing them. Again, you can write a letter to them – that you don’t send – or have an imaginary conversation with them out loud. The point is to get all those pent-up emotions out of you, so you can truly move on. Without putting yourself in harm’s way.)

This is a BIG one. And the good news is, it involves no one else but me, myself and I. Well… actually, you, yourself and… you. The slightly bad news is that this one requires work. But, it is SO worth it in the end!

We all have limiting beliefs – things we believe about ourselves that prevent us from going after dreams, taking chances or achieving goals. And 9 times out of 10, these beliefs are 100% false. Unfortunately, what begins as an occasional doubtful thought becomes an obsessive, repetitive thought until it becomes so familiar that it becomes a full-blown belief.

You may start out just doubting that you can be a public speaker… but the more you tell yourself that you can’t, the more you believe yourself. Until eventually, you are absolutely positive that you can not and should not be a public speaker, and the thought of it absolutely terrifies you. This might not be too big of a problem… until you get that dream job that you’ve always wanted and you find out that one of your tasks will be to give weekly presentations to the rest of the staff. Ugh.

This is only one example of thousands of possibilities – limiting beliefs can be about anything from our abilities and talents to our physical appearance or what others think of us. But, I’m guessing you probably already have an idea of what yours are and even if you don’t – it probably won’t take you long to figure them out.

So, once you know what those limiting beliefs are (dig deep!), you can start letting go of them by challenging them when they pop into your head instead of just mindlessly agreeing with them. Speak truth over yourself, fight them off with positive affirmations and if you’re feeling really brave, prove those limiting beliefs wrong by going out and doing what they said you couldn’t do!

Don’t worry if it takes a little while to undo them. It did take awhile for those thoughts to dig themselves into your brain, so it will take some time for them to get out of there too. But the more consistently and actively you “retrain your brain,” the easier it will become.

Last, but definitely not least, it’s time to start loving yourself. For who you are now. Not later, when you’ve lost the weight… not once you get your hair cut… not once you buy a new wardrobe or get a better job… NOW.

If ever there was something that you don’t want to put off until later, it’s this. The way you feel about yourself affects every single part of your life. It affects how you work, how you relate to other people in friendships and love relationships and most importantly, it affects how you speak to yourself every day.

Longing for a version of yourself that you used to be is pointless. Time has passed, you have changed, and that is okay. In fact, it’s more than okay. Because I’m guessing if you really took a moment to think about it, you’d realize that you’ve gained a lot of wisdom and life experience since back “then.” So, it’s time to stop being stuck in the past.

But, it’s important not to get too caught up with who you want to be in the future either. Although it is good to have goals and things to work toward, make sure that you’re not basing your worth or your self-value on achieving those things.

Love yourself for who you are right now – flaws and all. You are a work in progress. A perfectly imperfect human being.

Just the way you are.

Jenn Baxter is an accomplished author, speaker and freelance writer based in Charlotte, North Carolina. She has been published in numerous print and online publications and appears at tiny house festivals, healthy living festivals and private engagements across the country, speaking on the subjects of downsizing & minimalism, clean eating, healthy living and spiritual health. She is a regular guest on the NBC morning show Charlotte Today on WCNC-TV and has also appeared as a guest on several tiny house-themed podcasts including the Tiny House Podcast and Tiny House Canada.
In 2015, Jenn launched her website, Live a F.A.S.T. Life, based on her own experiences with clean living and downsizing into a 160-square-foot tiny house on wheels. She now teaches others how to make similar changes in their own lives through her online webinars and her e-course collection, De-Clutter, De-Tox, De-Stress. Her book, Live a F.a.s.t. Life: How Stripping Down & Cleaning Up Gave Me My Life Back was released in December 2017.