Closet Cleaning

I recently had tea with a friend and we were talking about how good it feels to get rid of clothes that don’t fit. You know those ones you’ve been holding on to, in hopes that you’ll lose that extra weight, or that you’ll shift the mama belly somewhere else. Or clothes that you can fit in but are uncomfortable. You spend all day pulling them up or down or sideways, thinking “at least I look good,” but in reality you are just creating discomfort and tension in your body.

Letting go of those clothes can be so freeing. Sticking only with clothes that spark joycan be even better. 

My friend said, “What is the music analogy here?”

Brilliant!

The analogy is all the music you are supposed to learn because someone told you it would suit you. Or trying to squeeze yourself, manipulate, and push/pull yourself into a fache. Or taking orchestra auditions because that is the path you see others taking. Same thing for young artist programs. Or learning everything you can about the auditioners, trying to shape and push and pull yourself into fitting their ideals.

It might be the voice of a wise teacher or coach, who steers you in the right direction so many times, but you know what? They’re human too, and give imperfect advice. Or they are trying to live vicariously through you. Or want your success to be in a certain way so that it boosts their feelings of worth and value.

So, what are the wrong size clothes of the performing and creative world that you are trying to make fit, but simply feel wrong for you? What are you trying to squeeze your way into? What kind of mental closet cleaning can you do to let go of some of these expectations that hamper you from being you?

Easier said than done, right? 

First step - identify what doesn't fit. When making decisions about work choices notice what sits well and easily in your body, or gets you excited, even if it is excited-scared. Notice what creates feelings of heaviness and dread. What are you doing out of obligation?

The next step of letting go of other's expectations? Well, that is life work, in my opinion. Not something one decides to do and it is done. Give yourself some compassion on this front.

It's one thing to know some of these things in your head. But it's another thing to internalize and feel it deep in your bones. Shifting to deep inner knowledge takes time and sometimes it might even cause some grief, or anger, or anxiety. "Why did we spend all those years following the advice of others? Why didn't I listen to what ignites my excitement? Why did I waste my time doing x, y, and z? Is it too late? I don't want to start over!" 

So once you recognize some expectations you want to let go of, the next step is giving yourself permission to express the secondary emotions that follow. 

Let me know how your mental closet cleaning is coming along. I'd love to hear from you and your experiences of letting go of other's expectations!