I kept putting away an empty box
I was helping my son put away his toys the other day, and found myself putting away an empty box, that had once contained a toy, back on the shelf.
I caught myself as I set it down.
I opened it to make sure it really was empty.
Just a box, nothing in it, taking up space on the shelf.
No purpose, no contents, no emotional connection and yet, for months – because this wasn’t the first time I’d put it back- I had been leaving space for it, and replacing it on a shelf, in an already too-full toy room, in a place that definitely could have been used for something else. Something he actually uses, enjoys or even needs.
He clearly didn’t need it. I folded it up and threw it in the garage for recycling pick up.
And it got me thinking.
No – It didn’t just get me thinking, it was an epiphany.
What other “empty boxes” do I keep, not in my house, but in my mind?
What “empty boxes” are filling up space that could be better used?
I thought about it and realized my mind is actually FULL of them. I mean I’ve got a collection of “empty boxes”.
I am keeping shelves full of unnecessary feelings and thoughts about myself and my life, that serve no purpose, but I’m so used to keeping them there, to the place they hold, to the familiarity of them, that I’m actually afraid to let them go. Will I recognize myself if I were to change all of those things. Would I still be me?
But most of my “empty boxes” are negative things. Negative and often hurtful feelings and thoughts about my body, my worth, my abilities. If I were to get rid of all of them, and replace them with positivity, could I possibly be a better me?
We hold onto negative, unnecessary thoughts, feelings, experiences so tightly. We make room for them in our minds. We bring them up, use them as fuel to our fire, excuses and validation.
But are those thoughts & feelings serving us, or hurting us?
Chances are, if you look inside those “boxes”, there is nothing helpful within. Even more likely, there’s nothing inside.
Are we just comfortable with the arrangement? They clearly aren’t serving us, so why are they still there? Why do we keep them?
We have become so used to our negative thoughts that they actually feel comfortable. Even the way they make us feel is familiar. It’s not good, but it’s familiar.
We are so comfortable and familiar with our empty boxes and their presence that we don’t see them, or the effect they have on our lives.
This may sound a little out there, maybe too abstract, so here’s an example from my own life.
One of my empty boxes was my attachment to my weight. I have this memory of being a young teenager and deciding that a certain # on the scale would mean that I was skinny, and therefore attractive. I weighed more than that at the time, I weigh more than that now, and aside from being extremely ill or extreme dieting I have never been that weight. So needless to say I have never been that weight and happy. The weight didn’t translate to happiness, and I knew it! But I still kept that idea in my head. I had to consciously accept the thought, note it’s wrongness, and dismiss it. I had to admit to its existence, and then I could see that it was untrue, and completely unhelpful!
What happened after that was really incredible.
I had cleared that big heavy (but empty) box out of my mind. And I could see myself more clearly because of it. My worth and value no longer correlated to the number on the scale. I am good regardless of the number, in fact I no longer know the number, because it doesn’t matter. I can see the good things about my body and my self without even considering what my weight is.
Are you keeping a spot in our mind for an empty box? For multiple empty boxes? Chances are that they serve no purpose, but they’ve been there so long its just habit at this point, to use them to fill up the space in our minds.
Is it because we wouldn’t recognize our own minds our own selves, without them? Have we allowed our “empty boxes” to hang around so long that they have become part of our identity?
This is a scary thought.
But it’s not irreversible.
And you will still be you, without the empty boxes. In fact you’ll be a more free, confident and happy you.
Imagine who we could be, and the things we could do, if all of our insecurities were gone.
That is who we are without our empty boxes.
It won’t happen over night.
It will take time, some of them are new and we can identify them easily, others have been there so long it will take some clearing before we can even see them, let alone recognize them for what they are.
So start today. Let go of the thoughts you don’t need. Let yourself be you without the negativity.
Let’s make room in our minds and our lives for happiness, new skills, confidence, strength, accomplishment, all the things that create Self Love.
I want my kids to know the fun loving, silly, carefree me. And I can’t be that if I’m worried about whether my belly jiggles, if my dance moves aren’t cool, or whether I have the right kind of butt for this year’s trends.
This will take time, and effort. We are totally overhauling our mindset.
It will be worth it.
- Search your mind for an “empty box”
- Look inside, understand what meaning it has
- Decide if it’s hurting or helping
- If it’s hurting, or not helping, let it go
- Fill that space with something positive (memories with your family, something you LOVE about yourself)
- Repeat until it’s all good
This will be a life long practice, because we are constantly affected by our daily experiences and interactions. But as you continue to practice this elimination of negativity from your life, you will get better and better at it. You will learn to discern what’s worth keeping, or even worth noting.
Eventually negativity will fly right by you. You will get so good at recognizing unnecessary thoughts and feelings that you will see them coming.
I’m not there yet, I’m still working on it. I will be working on it forever. I am okay with that.
Being conscious of this habit is a great start.
Wanting to change it is a great next step.
Taking action in the best way I know possible means I’m not going to live under the rule of my fears but instead face them head on and grow as a person, and as a mother.
I really hope you come on this journey, too. We will grow and learn and expand our minds, once there is space to do so.
It’s time for spring cleaning.
Bye bye Empty Boxes, no room for you here.
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