Spring: Time to Declutter
I stood in my parents' garage surveying the remainder of my Surbiton flat. The table I'd invested in, the recliner chair I'd envisaged having in my old age, pictures filled with memories, the pots and pans I'd carefully selected. All had to go and it was heart wrenching but, at the same time, strangely liberating.
That was about 15 years ago and I realised that, holding on to past things was not going to be helpful as I ventured into my new life abroad. The little book that helped me through that time is Karen Kingston's ‘Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui’ I found it in yet another sort out recently, her website is at www.spaceclearing.com.
Karen's process includes cleaning physical grime, removing clutter and having a ceremony to remove predecessor energy. She describes clutter as stuck energy,
"Clutter accumulates when energy stagnates and likewise energy stagnates when clutter accumulates. So the clutter begins as a symptom of what's happening with you in your life and then becomes part of the problem itself because the more of it you have, the more stagnant energy it attracts to itself"
What is clutter?
Karen believes that we are connected to everything we own by fine strands of energy. In my case, as my life changed, the items I had previously valued had now become clutter. A simple test is whether the things you own fill you with positive energy or you feel some emotional indifference or draining in their presence. Karen identifies 4 categories...
1. Things you do not use of love. Things which are loved, used and appreciated have strong vibrant energies around them. Other things are just in the way!
2. Things which are untidy or unorganised. This is about striking the right balance between knowing where things are and being too tidy which she terms ‘energetically sterile'.
3. Too many things in too small a space. Apparently there is a relationship between the amount of room energy has to move and the ease with which its occupants can get things done.
4. Anything unfinished. Issues not dealt with at home are metaphors for issues not dealt with in your life. This equates to the coaching concept of tolerations. Living with tolerations drains your energy like water leaking from a faulty pipe.
Signs you need to de-clutter....
Some of the symptoms include...
1. You feel tired and lethargic
2. You tend to think about the past
3. Your body feels congested e.g. constipation, lack of vitality
4. You are over weight (This often has the same self protection theme as gathering clutter)
5. You're experiencing confusion
6. People do not treat you well. (You are not treating yourself well either as your low self value is reflected in your clutter)
7. You procrastinate or are easily distracted.
8. There is disharmony in your home
9. You are ashamed to invite people round
10. You feel like you life is on hold
Why do we keep clutter?
Here are some typical reasons, or should I say excuses!
I keep a few spares just in case.
Filling my home is part of who I am, it gives my home character.
I have to have one of these, everyone does!
I feel more secure and comfortable when I'm surrounded by my things.
I used to love this, now it's damaged I can't bear to part with it!
I inherited this from someone special
You can't have too many chairs
I'll save money when these come back into fashion!
Behind each of these comments is a limiting belief and some ‘wrong thinking' about the things in our lives which hold us back. A more helpful perspective would be to view everything as energy, it is just passing through this material state and these material things are just passing through our lives. We use them well, enjoy them and then let them go. As Karen puts it,
"Your body is the temporary temple of your soul. What you keep around you in the extended temple of your home needs to change with you as you change and grow, so that it reflects who you are..."
So if you're involved in developing your personal awareness, you can see each wave of clutter as sign of progression!
Preparing to de-clutter
Whist de-cluttering may seem like a physical process, I hope you’re now beginning to appreciate how it goes hand in hand with our emotional processing. It’s therefore beneficial for us to keep in mind both dimensions.
On the physical side, the first step is to review your home and identify the areas of clutter, rating them from small to large. Identify the areas that irritate you most and drain your energy. Taking the smaller most irritating items first, gives you more energy and momentum for tackling the larger areas. You will also need some boxes or bags for rubbish, repairs, recycling, transit (on its way to a new area that has yet to be de-cluttered) and ‘dilemmas’. The dilemmas box works well for me. If I can not decide immediately, I put the item in a box and then put it out of sight. If I have not thought of it or needed the item within a pre-arranged time (usually 3 months) then I need to let go, and this letting go feels much easier.
Did any of those clutter excuses ring a bell? If so you could find it useful to adopt a new belief which supports your de-cluttering process. First identify your limiting belief and then what you’d like to replace it with, finally make the new one easier to adopt by adding ‘allow’, ‘choose’ to or ‘open to’. For example ‘I’m comfortable when surrounded by things’ could become, ‘I choose to feel comfortable surrounded by only things I truly love.’
On the same lines is having a clear mental picture of what you want to achieve with your de-cluttering. Allow yourself to day dream and get excited about clutter free living. You might want to remind yourself of your goal with a saying or mantra such as ‘the space to be me’ or ‘making way for the new’.
The Right Time
We seem to have a natural instinct to clear things out in the Spring. But what if you’re in a country without this season or you’ve missed it already? What’s really needed is a ‘spring attitude’, a desire for a fresh start or new creation. As Karen Kingston, says ‘If you can find time to acquire clutter, you can find time to get rid of it!’
Concerns and fears are likely to come up once you start the process so what’s really needed is an acceptance of any challenges that present themselves, a willingness to move ahead and trust in the de-cluttering process.
To assess your clutter, try the following test, item by item, ‘true’ or ‘false’…
It lifts my energy when I think about it or look at it
I absolutely love it
It’s genuinely useful
If the answer to one of these isn’t true, what’s it doing in your life?
~ Schedule some time- either in a few concentrated sessions or regular shorter ones. Block this out in your diary, it’s an important appointment!
~ Get in the mood with music, singing and/or even dressing up!
~ Consider doing a swap with a friend to both support each other in your de-cluttering and to hold each other accountable.
~ Tackle a small area at one time- this will avoid any tendency to ‘bite off more than you can chew’ and give you a feeling of progress.
~ Substitute ‘won’t’ for ‘can’t’ to take back your power. For example, ‘I won’t throw out this present.’
~ Make quick decisions, you have the dilemma box for the items you want to give more time to. Handle each item the minimum of times.
~ Take photos of items that don’t meet the checklist but you want to remember.
~ Create displays (frame, put in cases etc) with items that give you happy memories.
~ Invest in attractive storage boxes, filing systems etc.
~ Be creative about recycling- it can be easier to let go when something has a good home lined up.
~ Set aside some quiet time to feel, explore and let go of any emotions that come up whilst you’re sorting.
~ Know that it’s safe to let go and there are no wrong choices.
~ Regard de-cluttering as a way of treating yourself.
~ Celebrate each success in a way that honours your progress
Clutter free living
Ideally we need to put some time into de-cluttering on a regular basis and at least do one major review a year. We can also stop clutter before it starts by thinking twice before we buy or creating a rule that for each new thing we acquire we need to throw something out.
Once we’ve tasted being clutter free it’s much harder to tolerate rising amounts of clutter in our lives. The simplicity that comes with having less stuff is both physically and emotionally rewarding. You’re left with an empty space, a blank canvas, possibility…. and it’s then the real fun can begin!
I hope this article has been useful to you. I'd love to you to use the comments section below to tell me about your decluttering experiences.....