Letting Go of the Clutter

snowy day

Oh the weather outside is frightful
But the fire is so delightful
And since we’ve no place to go
Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!

This was definitely the theme last weekend here in Dallas, and what a cozy weekend it was! Here in the south, it’s not often that a winter ice storm shuts down a giant city 3 weeks before Christmas, but that’s exactly what happened. So, I happily nestled in with my family to enjoy our respite from the bustle of life. I love being home, and I really love being home with no plans. So, I decided to make good use of this “found” time to finally go through some boxes that had been languishing in the corner of our guest room for almost 10 years (how is that even possible?!?).

So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday

out of clutter

Do you find it hard to get rid of things, like I do? Have you ever wondered why it’s such a challenge? I realize that things are simply things, but for me, I suspect that my difficulty in clearing the slate has to do with my preoccupation with both the past and future. I regard the past with quite a bit of sentimentality, and while nostalgia can be good in small doses, one can be ensnared quite easily in yesteryear. On the flip side, I hang on to way too many papers, coupons, notes, articles from magazines, etc. in the very, very off chance I might need them in the future. Silly, right? What all this says to me is that I’ve been spending far too much time living somewhere else besides the present. And life moves quickly enough without me looking the other way all the time.

Moment of Clarity

To get through my clutter purge, I mainlined an epic number of What Not to Wear episodes from my TiVo while I worked, and a slow epiphany occurred. As I watched countless women emerge victorious at the end of their style transformations, I understood how these women had allowed clothes (and, by extension, their limiting beliefs about themselves) to hold them captive from living a glorious life in the present. I also realized that I had been defining myself unwittingly by my relics from the past stuffed so unceremoniously into the corner. Not surprisingly, I have my own collection of bad clothes that I am weeding through, so no judgment here, you lucky WNTW ladies!

Tips for Letting Go

i dreamed my whole house was clean

If you’ve had trouble making positive changes in your life and getting them to stick, ponder Einstein’s definition of insanity for a moment: “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”  So, if you want new and wonderful things in your life, stop doing what you’ve always done and try a different way already! Here are my tried-and-true tips for tackling emotionally loaded clutter and making room in your life for unexpected blessings:

1. Prioritize Your Clutter: Creating a priority list is a great, painless way to begin purging your home, office, or life, but here’s the key: you must leave the house to make this list. Go anywhere —your favorite coffee shop, restaurant, or do what John and I did—create this list when you are hundreds of miles away on vacation, far removed from the emotional pull of your home. This helps create the psychological distance you will need to make objective decisions about what goes and what stays (see Step 2).

2. Create Emotional Distance: Observe your clutter through impartial eyes, and keep your feelings about it tucked away. Are you able to make rational decisions about what to keep and what to let go of? If you are having trouble deciding how you feel, you can ask a compassionate but objective friend to help you. If you’re like me and you prefer to soldier it out on your own, create your own filter and run each item through before deciding (see Step 4). If this is too difficult, be gentle with yourself. Maybe you need to “sit” with the idea of what you want to get rid of. Give yourself time to mentally cull through the items in question without requiring immediate action. This is an amazingly effective way to cut ties gently. Heck, it only took me 10 years! J

3. Find Your Starting Place: Find one significant but doable place to start. If your home office is consuming you, don’t take on the whole room in a day. Pick one stack of boxes in a corner or one cabinet or a single drawer—you will be able to feel good about finishing something (anything!) and if after that, you feel good and are ready to handle more, you can move on to another doable cabinet.

 4. Run It Through the Filter: Some decisions about what to get rid of are easy or will become easier once you go through the previous steps. However, when you come upon something that you are having trouble with, run it through your filter: In my current life, does this item serve me? Does it belong in the life (room, wardrobe, statement) that represents me now or who I’m trying to become? Does it make me feel happy, radiant, beautiful, amazing, and powerful? If the item doesn’t fit, then it needs to go! Why in the world would you hold on to something that made you feel anything less than joyful? Important note: If your item is a cherished treasure, you don’t have to toss it. But if it doesn’t belong in your current, everyday life, you must find a place for it. Tuck it into a special memory box, along with other precious pieces, and you’ll love being able to reminisce eventually . . . after you have streamlined the rest of your closet.

Whether you decide to give away, donate, or trash the clutter in your life, now’s the time for you to claim the peace and power that comes from living mindfully and on purpose. You must make room for your life to grow abundantly into the spaces that were once piled up with stuff. I can’t wait to see what’s around the corner for you and me—hold on a minute, let me just move this box out of the way . . .

Good luck!

Brooke

have nothing

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