Dear Dr. Paulette,
I’m trying to date and to create the relationship that I want but sometimes I feel stuck in the past and find myself thinking about what might be wrong with me in terms of attracting the right guy and about some of the things I don’t like about men from my past. How can I make a fresh start and move forward?
Not Yet Present
Dear Not Yet Present,
We’re here to learn from our past and hopefully to then let it go so that it doesn’t prevent us from moving forward. We also can carry around baggage in terms of our thoughts and feelings about ourselves that can stop us from fully keeping our heart open. So, it’s important to work on putting our past in its place so that we can be fully open to the gifts of our present and future.
Your question is timely because it’s now Spring- a time for rebirth, renewal and Spring Cleaning. And, we can all do this in our love lives. Today I‘ll give daters some ways to “Marie Kondo” their hearts. I’ll use the analogy of spring cleaning your house and closet. You can try these 10 steps below:
1. Feng Shui What No Longer Serves You- For most of us, when we finally go through the process of cleaning our closet, we find many things we’ve held onto that no longer suit us. Maybe the size or style is now wrong. When we can let those go, we make room for something new to take its place.
RELATED: Spring Clean Your Room
We may know this when it comes to our wardrobe but it’s also true of our love lives. You may be dating a guy who you aren’t really into or who treats you poorly.Perhaps you’re stuck in perpetual mourning about The One’ who got away two years ago and is now married. Whatever it is, it’s time to admit to yourself that this is not a fit and it’s time to make space for something new that will bring you joy.
2. Give “the Old” a New Context that’s Beneficial– When we’re cleaning our closets we often give away things that we no longer need so that they can serve someone else. You can give that item to a thrift shop so someone who needs it can benefit. You may gift it to a friend who will completely love it and give it new life. Such is regeneration and the cycle of life.
This can be true of your past loves and experiences as well. While you may wish an old relationship had worked out, you can choose to release that person emotionally and to wish them well so they can find the best relationship that serves them, instead of harboring bitterness and a wish that they are lonely. In turn, this gives you permission to do so too. Even if a relationship was a negative experience, by looking for the lesson, you can also give it a new more positive context. For example, if you were keeping noncommittal or selfish men in your life, you may discover your part in this. You may realize that you are often a pushover who doesn’t set boundaries, standards for how you will be treated or speak up for yourself. Once you realize this, it can completely change how you choose partners and what types of relationships you will create going forward.
3. Get Clear about What You Most Need and Why It Gives You Joy– When clearing your closet you may like a lot of things and many may hold history or sentiment for you. But you only have so much energy and space so it’s important to get clarity on what most serves you now and what ultimately brings you the most joy.
These are guidelines that work for your love life too. No one will have a list of 100 stellar qualities and you probably don’t either. But, it is reasonable to think about what things are most important to you and give you ongoing joy and life energy. For example, I usually recommend writing 5-7 essential qualities you want in a mate. They may be kindness, the ability to be romantic and loyal etcetera.
4. Love & Accept Yourself As You Are Right Now– We often buy clothes that represent a way we liked to be in a future self or hang on to relics from our past. How many of you hang on to those three pairs of cute jeans that are two sizes too small but you hope to someday get back into? And, every time you look at them you feel bad and tell yourself you are not okay as you are now. Most clutter experts recommend tossing the what ifs and keeping what looks good on you today.
Similarly, many single clients I have tell me they can’t date till they lose considerable weight and assume no one will like them now because they can’t accept themselves. While it is okay to want to lose weight and get healthy, I suggest you choose to love and accept yourself, today. This is the one thing we have for sure and even now there are so many things that are great about you. So, consider making a list of those right now great qualities. It will make you feel more loveable and attractive.
5. Make Time to Love Yourself Daily-Marie Kondo tells us how to respect and appreciate every belonging we keep. Likewise, we need to remember to respect and appreciate ourselves! We need to create time for our self-care and observe what other priorities and future goals are causing us to neglect ourselves—the source of everything. Choose to water yourself and your spirit daily with at least 40 minutes. Do things that center you, bring you joy and connect you with spirit. Each morning I take a 25-minute sacred bath. You can get 52 bath rituals to do for each area of your life in my book, ‘The Book of Sacred Baths,‘ published by Llewelyn.
6. Plant Intention Seeds that you Want to Grow- Our limiting beliefs reinforce old patterns and new positive beliefs direct new beneficial patterns. In terms of decluttering, we may tell ourselves, I may need this old thing later, which then causes us to hoard it out of fear. If we instead say, I am only making room for that which brings me joy, what you keep will be a whole different story.
You can notice what beliefs deter you or serve you in your love life too. For example, you may say to yourself, No man wants to marry a woman over 35 years old, which will stop you before you begin if you are 36! Or, you can say, I am vibrant, smart and beautiful and the right man will be so lucky to have me! Weed out the negative limiting beliefs and plant positive affirmations about you and your love life instead.
7. Do a Makeover– You can take what you’ve chosen and consciously create a vision of what suits you now. Most people like the idea of a makeover, especially if you can make use of the things you already have and love now!
In your love life, you’ve probably learned something about what has not worked but it’s time to flip that and to be inspired by what that next amazing relationship can do for you. So, make a vision board or collage and imagine how much joy you can bring into your life just by mixing in a few new elements into the next partner and relationship you invite in.
8. Tackle Categories, Not Rooms; Identify Patterns, Not People– When decluttering, Marie Kondo suggests finding all your jewelry and tackling that first instead of decluttering room by room. Then all the jewelry can all have a designated place and will be conscious and complete.
By this same token, instead of reviewing your relationships with each ex, consider your biggest unhealthy patterns and how they have repeated in your overall relationships. For example, maybe 4 out of 5 of your exes were emotionally and physically unavailable. Write in a journal about how each one played out this pattern with you and how you ignored the signs. Then get clear how you will choose differently next time and what clues of availability you will look for from the get-go. I have exercises on how to do this in my book, ‘Dating from the Inside Out: How to Use the Law of Attraction in Matters of the Heart,’ published by Atria Books.
9. Practice Makes Perfect: Once you have let go of what served you and consciously put the things you want in their place, Kondo says you won’t have to clean again! While I like this idea, I think most of us can just clean faster and in more minor ways because we have an overall process that works.
In dating, this means you may slip back into dating an unavailable guy but hopefully you will realize it a month in instead of taking two years! This is a huge difference in time and energy.
10. Get Out and Take Action– Your closet and apartment will not clean itself. If you leave it the same, you will feel the same.
This is true of your love life as well. Make a dating action plan and take consistent steps to joining online dating sites, writing people and going out. While winter is a time to stay in more, spring is a time to get out there and create.
I hope this is helpful. Remember, there’s no time like today!
I wish you the best in love,