In the last few weeks, I’ve really felt the urge to purge. Not in the nauseating sense, but in the decluttering one! I believe the overwhelming push has been fostered by the start of 2017 – the beginning of a new planetary cycle after the last nine year one completed. 2017 is a “one” year and it is this year that we are setting up our lives for the work we are going to be doing in the next nine both practically and energetically. I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions, but this January felt different. Have you felt any shifts?
Let me take you back…
The second half of 2016 really felt like I was dragging my feet through mud – energetically speaking. So. Damn. Heavy. I felt spent, utterly exhausted and weighed down with nothing much left in the tank. My body felt tired, my creativity was practically zero and I was just going through the motions. However, my mind was often racing, sometimes finding it hard to sleep with plans, do-to lists and random thoughts running over, and over as I would try to settle for the night.
I kept dragging my feet, doing the bare minimum around the house to keep it clean and reasonably orderly. Those precious hours at home after work was when I cocooned myself into a protective and nourishing wrap of tea, books and Netflix in an attempt to preserve some precious energy for the rest of the week and to distract me from my own racing thoughts.
Weekends were spent catching up with friends and family because, of course, they are my priority over cleaning the garage of spider webs and random renovation tools, sorting my clothes racks or organising the seemingly-endless spice stockpile I seem to have collected in my pantry. I had stuff in boxes from when I moved house twelve months prior that I hadn’t even unpacked!
In retrospect, there was an accumulation of objects all around me but only a fraction of them held ongoing value to my life and the rest were just – there. Weighing me down. However, the thought of sorting through, organising and decluttering was way too difficult and even a bit stressful! Laziness, procrastination or sentimentality would get the better of me.
Why bother decluttering?
I wondered why I continued to hold on to clothes and accessories I hadn’t worn since the 1990s and stuff I hadn’t used for years. Every dress I own I remember when I wore it, where I wore it to, the great times I had while wearing it and the people I was with at that time – like my black and purple strapless dress, worn out to dinner with my best friend when we celebrated graduating from our Intensive Care nursing training course. Some of these objects were tangible connections to events in my past that I don’t want to forget. Other items were quite frankly vectors for triggering really painful memories of a horrible past relationship that I really would rather forget.
I believe that items do carry resonating frequencies of emotions and energies imprinted on them over time by the people they are near. For me, that means I can be instantly transported back to that time, place and feeling both good and bad, and relive it over again. For others, perhaps it triggers memories of those good or bad times, or of the people associated with it. Or maybe they are completely unconscious to any energetic effects on them but feel stuck or weighed down.
Decluttering and clearing out that which isn’t enhancing my life was looking better and better. After all, why would I consciously choose to hang on to things that were holding me back, weighing me down and taking up space?
Fast forward to January 2017
I was on holidays and sheltering indoors from the brutal Australian summer temperatures (think cracks opening up in the ground because it’s so hot and dry). One day I felt the distinct urge to take a strategic approach to decluttering and for the first time in a long time, I just knew I was ready. This is what I did, and what could help you get started if you are feeling the urge to minimise and declutter too.
- I chose my bedroom to start in, as it was the room I spent the most time in and seemed like a good sized area to start in, and not too overwhelming.
- I decided to tackle one rack in my wardrobe at a time, as that seemed more achievable to declutter in smaller sections. My goal was to sort through each section and make three piles: to keep, to throw away and to donate.
- I sorted through each individual item and made a choice. The hardest but equally liberating part was figuring out what to let go of. For each item, I assessed its condition and asked myself honestly “What purpose is this serving me now?” I paused and waited for the answer. Sometimes it was distinct, and for me mostly come by way of a feeling. Othertimes sentimentality resisted letting go of some items, and my logic had to counter.
- I took the donation pile I had sorted to my local Lifeline store and after the last box was taken in by the volunteer, I breathed a large sigh of relief! It was the same when I pulled my bin to the kerb for the weekly garbage collection full of unwanted things from my room.
What I learned
The longer I decluttered, the more accomplished I felt. Looking at the piles of belongings I was going to donate made me feel great, not sad or regretful like I thought it might have. The relief and lightness I felt when I finally threw out and donated my decluttered stuff is attributable to these three reasons:
- Acknowledgement that the item no longer served a purpose for me and it was ok to let it go
- I consciously made a decision to ‘cut ties’ with the item, therefore releasing it energetically from me
- I saw and felt the huge space of potential that had opened up to me again – both physically and mentally
There were several items that I donated that held good memories for me, and they were the hardest ones to decide on. But what I realised during that process was that my memories are always going to be mine, and I can recall them anytime I like. So, instead of holding on to a dress I’m never going to wear again, I’ll just call up my best friend to reminisce about the time we went celebrated our graduation!
“I consciously made a decision to ‘cut ties’ with the item, therefore releasing it energetically from me.”
Decluttering shouldn’t just be a once off thing. I plan to step back and evaluate the objects I’ve gathered over the previous three or four months and repeat the process. Each time I do it, I know it will be quicker and less laborious as I won’t be starting with as many items. It’s even made me see future purchases in a new light! But that is probably a whole other post!
The power of decluttering to open space for creativity and growth in your life is immense. So much so that for the first time in a long time I have started writing creatively again, and the ideas just keep coming! I feel a vitality and an excitement about getting creative that I haven’t really felt since I was a child. I’m so grateful and happy I listened to those gentle nudges from within to tidy, sort and cleanse. I now see the process as necessary and welcome, not a chore!
Yes, there are decluttering experts!
Since space clearing, downsizing and decluttering have been high on my radar recently, I have come across some people who have dedicated their lives to helping others to clear, declutter and minimise stuff in their lives. I’d highly recommend you check them out if you need some help to get started in your decluttering
Marie Kondo is Japanese expert in tidying and decluttering who has made her passion into a successful career. She designed her own approach to tidying called the KonMari Method which is practically oriented and easy to follow. She really gets into the nitty-gritty of the items you have in your home and her philosophy on how objects can affect your body, mental health and abundance really resonates with me. I am going to incorporate her method in my next round of decluttering.
Best friends Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus shed their corporate and hoarder lifestyles some years ago to become embrace minimalism. Their philosophy is to “live a meaningful life with less stuff” and to share their experience with millions of people worldwide through their books, website, documentary, podcasts, TED talks and conferences they speak at.
“Love people. Use things. The opposite never works.” – The Minimalists
What I really like the most about The Minimalists is their honest and uncomplicated approach to sharing their ideas and the genuine desire to help people improve their lives by minimising stuff. They acknowledge that minimalism is a continuum and it does not look the same for each person. The main method to achieve minimalism (however that is for you) is to ask yourself “Does this item add value to my life?”. If it doesn’t, rehome it or throw it away. The Minimalists emphasise the importance of focusing value not on things, but on experiences with people and places.
By Lisa Kotz