Dr. Deb’s Mental Health Vitamin: Cleaning out your internal closet
By Dr. Deb Wade
GCU Vice President, Counseling and Psychological Services
While I was knee-deep into cleaning out and rearranging a closet recently, many thoughts began to run through my mind. Maybe you can relate. Let’s see …
When is it time to clean out the closet?
- When seasons change: My mother always told me, “You should not wear white shoes before Easter or after Labor Day,” and I have been obedient to that statement my whole life. Different seasons certainly require that one makes changes. But what about seasons of life? For example, married couples may go from getting to know you … to child-rearing and career-building … to activity overload … to empty nest … to golden years! Those “seasons” certainly require change, growth, renewal, patience and resilience! Sometimes we just have to hunker down and adapt!
- When clothes no longer fit: We might have clothes that we’ve hung on to hoping that “one day, I’ll fit back into those jeans.” Sometimes, we realize that clothes we have no longer “fit” the stage of life we’re in (think of your old football jersey or maternity clothes). Ultimately, it’s time to get rid of the things that no longer “fit.” Life? As we go through different stages of life, it may be time to “throw off the old rags” and embrace the new stage of life with gusto!
- When the clothes are hopelessly out of style: OK, I finally did get rid of all those clothes that had “shoulder pads” in them! And I also got rid of those bell-bottom jeans because they are so outdated (I probably will see those return to being in style soon). But what about our lives? There are times when who we were is no longer appropriate for where we are. Becoming a Christian may mean that we need to throw out our old ways. Becoming a parent may require that we throw out some “me” activities and embrace some “we” activities. Changing career paths may require throwing out old behaviors and adapting to new tasks and ideas. Sometimes we just need to “get with the times.”
- When there’s too much junk: Purge and downsize; doesn’t that relate to our lives? I personally need to get rid of some junk, and maybe you do, too. Ridden with guilt? Feeling shame? Negative? Materialistic? Boundary-less? Let’s take inventory and throw out the junk!
Yes, that exercise in cleaning out the closet certainly can be laborious! But cleaning out our internal closets – old traits, behaviors, choices, vices – actually will feel really good! Achieving a clean internal closet just helps with all facets of good mental health! And the bonus? God has a heavenly eraser – it removes the stain, leaves no trace and doesn’t tear the paper!