Letting Go of Clutter
Something which commonly comes up for people struggling with clutter is the idea of letting go. Releasing the physical stuff from our home and our life has all sorts of emotional meaning attached to it, and means also releasing a lot of emotional clutter from our mind.
That’s got to be a good thing, right? If we know it will be good for us to let go of the emotional clutter associated with the physical stuff, why are we so reluctant to do it? What’s holding us back? If we understand intellectually that getting rid of physical stuff will free us up emotionally, why do we experience such resistance?
Fear. Our ego wants to protect us, and for some reason one of the things it really wants to protect us from is change. It’s intentions are good, it just wants to protect us, and it’s good to have it there to make sure we stay safe in the traffic. But sometimes we need to recognize that we are experiencing a fear of change, and make a conscious choice to take action anyway. Susan Jeffers’ book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway is one I highly recommend. If things don’t change, they’ll surely stay the same.
And what has to change, of course, is our thinking.
Whilst there are practical decisions to be made about how to physically remove the stuff from your home – charity pick up of large items, small items dropped at charity shop or bin, trips to the rubbish tip, council hard rubbish collection, garage or yard sales, eBay and so on – the main work to be done is all in your mind. It’s all about you being able to make the necessary decisions, and addressing the mental barriers which are holding you back.
Of course there are a variety of mental barriers to getting rid of your clutter, but the one I’m focusing on right now is the fear of letting go.
For some people, merely becoming aware of the resistance caused by fear of change is all that is required. Awareness is a powerful thing indeed. Taking some time to just think about it is work well worth doing. Here are a few ideas for thought processes which can help you shift the habitual way you have been looking at your clutter:-
- Imagine you have been given warning to evacuate your home due to an impending natural disaster, and you have a limited time to select a limited amount of items to save before abandoning the rest. Make a list of the items to be saved, and imagine that you are now out the other side of the event, the abandoned items are gone and irreplaceable, and see how it makes you feel. Does the idea that you had no choice but to let go of them make it easier to accept?
- For clothes and bathroom items, imagine you are going on an extended holiday for about two months. You will be traveling to different climates, will be attending formal events, parties, and activities which require practical casual clothing. You will be swimming. There will be romantic evenings. You must be prepared for every possibility. You have a decent but limited amount of luggage, which will be unpacked into the wardrobe and drawers and bathroom cabinets of your nice hotel when you arrive – which are a reasonable size, but not enormous. You have one hour to pack. What do you take and what do you leave behind? Everything you take, of course, has to fit you right now. How does that idea affect how you feel about the items you would be leaving behind?
- Imagine you have won a new fully furnished home ready for you to move into. It happens to be an appropriate size for you and is furnished to your taste of course. What would you take with you and what would you leave behind? Part of the deal is that whatever you leave behind will be dealt with for you, disposed of, and you don’t have to think about it. All you have to do is tell the removal company, who will be doing the packing for you, what stuff to pack and where it will be going in the new home. Can you spend some time imagining this really happening, and the decisions you would make, and how it would feel? Use whatever works for you to get the details clear, including the feelings, whether imagining it like a movie, hearing conversations in your head, or writing it down.
Something which came up in my coaching material which worked for me recently, was to take myself twelve months into the future, then look back to today and notice three things. What have I started, what have I maintained, and what have I ended. (I’ll go into this in more detail another time). Having decided upon my answers, my task was to have a go at my wardrobe and let go of anything which did not fit in with the person I am twelve months into the future. Although I thought I had it pretty together in this department, my clothes sorted by category on matching hangers all facing the same way and so on, I managed to shed two large garbage bags of things I didn’t feel were right for me any more, having just done this exercise. It’s not complete, as there is a current project to shed about 6 or so kilos of weight and a few things I still love will be able to be zipped up when I achieve this, but it felt great.
Allowing yourself to take incomplete action, to make progress with a de-cluttering project without the need for it to be perfect or complete, gives you more freedom for movement. An idea I’ve been thinking and talking about a lot lately is that it’s not necessary for all the details to be worked out before you act. You can take action without all the information, without all your ducks lined up, without being entirely sure how you will proceed. The fear abates and the path becomes clearer AFTER you have taken action and made a start.
Finally for this article, is the idea that letting go of clutter can also mean letting go of a poverty mentality. The freedom you experience as a result of the letting go can allow you to function so much better that you are able to create more opportunities for yourself, more money, more productivity. When you can see the possibilities of what you can achieve when you are operating at a higher level, the mentality of lack is something you can release along with the physical stuff. You can choose to feel confident that you can provide for yourself, that you will have enough, that you are whole and complete and that you have everything you need within you right now.
Having physical stuff within sight and taking up your attention is distracting, depressing and energy draining. Any action you take towards clearing out your clutter is a step towards having a clearer head, feeling lighter, feeling free, feeling more powerful, more capable, more enthusiastic. Think I’m exaggerating? Go fill a bag or a box and move it out of your home right now and see how it feels.
A final thought – a suggestion from the lovely FlyLady – that you imagine the “stuff” singing you the song: “Please, release me, le et me go”. Letting it be funny makes it so much easier and lighter.
- Blogging ( 1 )
- Feminist stuff ( 2 )
- Goal Setting & Achieving ( 4 )
- Internet Marketing ( 2 )
- Mental Health ( 1 )
- Motivation ( 6 )
- Organization ( 51 )
- Parenting ( 4 )
- Personal Image ( 2 )
- Physical Health ( 2 )
- Pregnancy and Birth ( 5 )
- Relationships ( 2 )
- Running a Home ( 4 )
- Self Esteem ( 4 )
- Social Skills ( 1 )
- Spiritual Health ( 1 )
- Time Management ( 1 )
- Weight Management ( 0 )
- Work Productivity ( 0 )