By Susie Ekberg
Q: Why do I suddenly have an overwhelming urge to declutter? I’m like a squirrel before winter, and it’s driving my family a little nuts. What gives?
A: Apparently YOU give…away a lot of stuff right now. And that’s a good thing! I think the first thing to remember is that if you get close to your family’s stuff, they may start to get nervous; worried you might throw out their precious “stuff,” so if you DO have expectations that they join you in your mad frenzy of de-stuffing your abode, be sure to be respectful of their fears, and don’t expect them to join you in your fevered pitch of activity.
I’ve found that inner turmoil is translated into an intense desire to order my outside world. The stronger my urge to organize and declutter my home, the more internal change is going on. As within, so without. We sometimes think of spring as the time we declutter, aka spring cleaning, and I think it has a lot to do with our hibernation for those 5 or 6 months (depending on where you live). We go within – within our homes, within ourselves, and we contemplate, and stay a little quieter. When spring comes, everything starts growing again – it’s all new growth, and we feel it within ourselves, as well. I’m not talking about the LITERAL spring (although that’s true, too) – I’m talking more about that spiritual spring cycle we go through.
If you think that your life is always supposed to be moving forward, moving fast, being productive, acquiring things, more more more, you’ll get burned out and filled to the brim awfully fast. Life is a series of back and forths, of creation and destruction, of moving forward and of being still.
If you’re in touch with your own inner flows, you’ll be able to locomote optimally on this physical plane. If not, well, good luck! You’ll probably experience a lot of crashing and burning, fatigue, feelings of being overwhelmed, stalling and running in place.
When we’re not in rhythm with our natural energies, everything (and everybody) around us suffers. So I like it that you’re going with your natural rhythm that is now saying, “CLEAN! Get rid of the old stuff to make room for the new! You don’t need that old thing anymore!”
It’s a great time to evaluate your current life and take stock. What no longer suits you, what no longer fits? If you take the time to keep only what resonates with who you are right now, you will be harmonious with your environment, and that will also help you be the best that you can be.
I’m not talking about a professional organizer-type operation here. I’m talking about a casual walk-through of your home with a discerning eye. Are you holding onto that dusty poster from high school? Really? Really? It’s okay to let it go.
While you’re reading this, I want you to make a fist – close it really tight. Now try to pick up this newspaper. Kind of hard to do when you’re holding on so tightly, isn’t it? It’s the same way with life. When we hold on to anything too tightly, unwilling to let it go, whether it’s thoughts or people or things, we limit ourselves as to how much (and what) we can hold and receive. Now open your hand. Just keep it empty. Now grab the newspaper. Easy, right? From the open hand standpoint you can now hold and have anything you want. Think “open.”
Apply this open hand principle to your belongings. Just because you’ve always had it isn’t a valid argument. Just because someone gave it to you isn’t a valid argument. Do you really WANT to own and have this thing anymore? If the answer is no, consider giving it away, or if it’s unfixable, throwing it away. Can you extend your current decluttering energy to people, situations, and thought patterns as well? Oh c’mon, let’s try, shall we?
Think of the friends you most frequently spend time with. Think of them one by one. Are they kind, supportive, respectful, affirming? Or negative, energy-sucking, back-stabbing and crabby? How do you feel when you’re with them? That will be your clue.
If they don’t resonate with who you are now, you may want to back off and start by spending less time with them. Gradually you may find them drifting out of your life all on their own, feeling somehow that the friendship has changed, and that you’ve moved on.
Do you find yourself constantly critical, negative, saying yes when you want to say no? Honestly look at yourself (or ask a trusted friend or loved one) and see if there are any behaviors you’re interested in changing, then brainstorm different ways of being in the world. You might want to try the experiment I did a few month’s back of being a consciously kind driver (man, that was tough!) for a week or a month. Or you might try saying no to all requests for help for a week. Or you might try writing down 10 things you’re grateful for each day, or not saying anything negative for the next two weeks. Start small and see how you feel. Lighter? Happier? More peaceful? You might want to keep up your mental and emotional decluttering.
I’m really proud of you for starting your decluttering like this, but I’d add another thing: don’t keep adding anything new unless you’re SURE it resonates with the new you. Otherwise you’re just perpetuating the vicious cycle of excess, and that’s not especially helpful. I made an interesting discovery a few month’s back when I stopped and looked at what I felt drawn to buy a lot of. Here’s the short list: blank journals, pens, blankets, food, and books. If I look at the symbolism of those desires, I can see a very basic part of who I am – someone for whom writing is very important (journals and pens), someone for whom comfort and nurturing are important (blankets and food), and knowledge (books).
Once I figured out that I was simply acting out of those basic feelings, I no longer needed to buy a surplus of those things. I acknowledged those deep desires, and for now those urges have been quelled (although probably buying an excess amount of food for the pantry may be the overflow of my pioneer heritage – you never know when a blizzard could strike – even in July).
Declutter when you feel the need to declutter. Live with what IS when you just want to BE. Buy something if it is REALLY important to you and your life. But above all, I urge you to get in touch with what you want and need to do, then respect those feelings and work WITH them, not against them. See what magic develops in your life when everything is in harmony – it will be a magnificent symphony of YOU-ness, and that’s always a beautiful thing!
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