Sue McRitchie talks... spring cleaning

As we enter spring and shake off the slough of winter we begin to think about renewal; new life and rebirth.

As we emerge from the dark mornings and long nights we could begin to contemplate the awakening garden, spring cleaning and planning anew for the coming summer.

The essence of a good spring clean is to get everything out, to refresh it, make it wholesome and jettison that which is not.

However, what I want us to consider with this article is not a refreshing of the kitchen but rather an internal spring clean; a renewal of oneself.

At the moment I am reading a book which focusses on what is called the ‘shadow’. This term has been coined by many therapists and refers to the part of ourselves which we either consciously or unconsciously keep hidden from others and, crucially, from ourselves.

As Johnson says, we are a mixture, “The persona is what we would like to be and how we wish to be seen by the world, the ego is what we are and know consciously to be the shadow is that part of us we fail to see or know”*

As with the eponymous good ‘spring clean’, in the renewal of ourselves we have to get all the elements out into the open and refresh them. We also have to make decisions about what can be integrated to ensure that we create a wholesome finish. Including, importantly, the ‘shadow’. The ‘shadow’ side of us can be impacted upon by the negative messages we unwittingly carry around with us, some since childhood. Statements like:

  • you’re clumsy

  • you’re stupid

  • don’t get too big for your boots.

I wonder what are the messages that you are carrying around? Might it be a good idea to find a way to put them down? How do those messages negatively impact on your thoughts or behaviour towards yourself or others?

One way is to spend some quiet time thinking about your day, your interaction with others and the less than positive ways you have acted with others or negative messages you give yourself. Once identified, consider whether such thoughts or actions have been useful and whether they have given you what you wanted or have they just brought unhappiness and pain. If it is the latter then they are the ones to focus on. Look for evidence which challenges the long held belief or message and how we might choose to change it and embrace this time of renewal.

We all have a ‘shadow’, it is not its presence which is a problem - all things need to balance light and dark - it is the ignoring of the shadow which is most harmful to ourselves and possibly others.

*Owning your own shadow. Johnson, Robert.A. HarperCollins Press (1991)

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Written by Sue McRitchie BACP (Accred), MSc, Dip.Couns.,Dip.Add.,Adv.Cert.Sup.

Sue McRitchie MSc., BACP Accred. has over 25 yrs. experience of NHS, Statutory, Voluntary and Private organisations with specialisms in addictions, systems and couples

As practitioner and senior manager she has worked with management boards, multidisciplinary teams, supervisees and individuals/couples seeking to enhance their way of being.… Read more

Written by Sue McRitchie BACP (Accred), MSc, Dip.Couns.,Dip.Add.,Adv.Cert.Sup.

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