I have spent some time de-cluttering this summer. At one point I decided to tackle one of the most challenging areas, I stepped into the garage and started looking around trying to figure out where to start. It wasn’t long before I grew overwhelmed and sad. I also grew angry. How could I have allowed such a mess? Admittedly, I began feeling sorry for myself and thinking I just cant do this! I pulled my wagon up to the door and told myself “Snap out of it. Just start with throwing away one wagon full at a time.” I filled my wagon and as I pulled it through my patio. I was struck by the contrast of the beauty in my small herb garden area just on the other side of the wall from that humongous mess. I thought what a great analogy for life. So often we have areas that need work and other areas that are going great. Whether it is in our physical, emotional, or spiritual lives we more than likely have some cleaning up to do somewhere.
For me I had some emotional messes that required my attention. For many years I thought I could overcome some of these messy areas of my emotional life by looking away and focusing only on the positive. I spent my efforts investing in building a life by only focusing on happiness, joy, paying attention to the good, and staying positive.
I lived many years with the belief that time heals all wounds, until the last few years when I hit some extremely challenging circumstances. During this time the messes from my past had built up and they became roadblocks preventing me from overcoming my challenges. Many of these old beliefs about myself, life, and others had perhaps served me at the time. Now they were getting in my way. So going back to the analogy, I was no longer able to shut the doors of the garage and park my cars outside, sit on my lovely patio just on the other side, pretending things were fine.
Focusing on the positive is often a good thing. But, it was time for me to be more courageous and begin the process of healing past traumas and pains one wagon full at a time. Like it or not I was going to have to clean out the garage. This type of emotional cleansing is hard and takes a lot of work. Because our physical, emotional, and spiritual bodies are so tightly integrated this has profoundly impacted my entire being. I believe it has helped me build a closer relationship to my Heavenly Father. It has also helped me improve my physical health. Clearing out the trash through healing has opened up space in my heart for greater love, confidence, joy and true peace.
Shawn Achor, who wrote the book The Happiness Advantage, says happiness is “the joy one feels striving for one’s potential.” I love this definition because it means we can be going through really painful things but still experiencing joy if we are moving toward our full potential. Many can go through life never investing in clearing out the garbage. But, in order for me to reach my full potential I had to invest in cleaning out the filth to increase my capacity for growth. I had to face those limiting beliefs holding me back.
This is the journey I have embarked on. As I said, it is hard and uncomfortable. Elder Stanley G. Ellis gave a talk in the October 2017 conference entitled “Do We Trust Him? Hard Is Good”. He reminds us that “Regardless of the issue, hard can be good for those who will move forward with faith and trust the lord and His plan.” As I have taken a step back and looked at each trauma or pain I have come to realize Heavenly Father continues to hand me the same lesson again and again until I truly learn and act on the learning. As I learn I have come to see the gift in every hardship. As I have enlisted the help of my Heavenly Father to take action and began to trust Him and myself, I have began to grow a greater capacity to forgive, to love others, to live authentically and to feel joy in striving toward my full potential. As I share parts of my healing journey and the tools and techniques I used, it is my hearts deepest desire to help others to grow, thrive, feel joy, and move toward their full potential.