As a young child, whenever I was sick my mum would clean my room and say, “you’ll feel better after I’ve tidied everything away,” and I did!
Even to this day I always feel better when my house is clean and organised.
It is a well known fact that our surroundings affect us. Take a moment to acknowledge how you feel when you go to the beach, or for a walk in the hills. Recognise what emotions surface when you enter your office building or a dentist surgery.
How do you feel when you are in your own home? Calm and content or chaotic and claustrophobic? The objects you have on display not only tell others a lot about you, but they can also lift you up (because it is something you like and treasure, it is colourful, it is modern) or they can pull your mood down (because it was given to you by someone you no longer like, or it is dull and not to your taste).
It is said that what we surround ourselves with affects the way we view ourselves. We accumulate more and more stuff, maybe to show off how much money we have, or because ‘everyone else has everything’. One of the biggest growing businesses in our modern society is that of ‘storage rental’. People have so much ‘stuff’ and not enough room that they actually pay money to have it stacked in empty boxes for years.
Maybe we attempt to fill an emotional hole in us by buying more things, but research shows that it actually has the opposite effect. With more things, we become more stressed, we have more to look after, more to clean and store, more to pay for. The more we have, the less we become.
De-cluttering can be an emotional experience for many people because for them it’s about letting go and that can be difficult. Yale University researched this topic – why is it so hard to get rid of clutter? They discovered that the part of the brain that registers pain, is the same area that lights up when we get rid of things.
When humans lived in caves, everything they had was essential for survival. People would be reluctant to give away a weapon or a pot because without these things their life would be at risk and less comfortable (no protection and no vessel to cook). Our brains are still wired the same way, however, this version of fear is no longer relevant because we have an abundance of stuff, no matter how much we give away we will always have our most basic needs met.
Ohio State University Psychology Department conducted an experiment to see what promotes human attachment to things. Students were told to hold a cup for different amounts of time, and then asked to bid for the cup. The student who’d held it for the longest period of time bid the most money. He felt the most attached to it, even though he didn’t really need it.
It can be difficult to clear out things that you think you may need again someday. But beware, this could be a form of fear at work. If you haven’t used it for over a year then you are unlikely to need it again. This is actually a negative affirmation, you are basically saying “I have enough now, but I won’t have enough in future.” Scientific research has shown that what we believe, we achieve. This could become a self-fulfilling prophecy! If you are keeping something for that eventuality then you could be affirming a lack of abundance, so let it go!
If you don’t love it and you don’t use – it’s clutter. It’s taking your time, energy and effort. It may be a trigger for old associations that you are not consciously aware of, and if so it is pulling your energy level down. Let the clearing out process be fun, not a chore. This is not just about your stuff, it’s about your life, your emotions, your surroundings, your future. Create a vision of what your life can be like without emotional clutter. Everything in your home should propel you to your new future.
Clear out with intention. As you push ‘stuff’ into bags and boxes to give away, crush all negative emotions with it. Feel empowered as you take control and get rid of the things that are blocking your path. Transform yourself as you transform your wardrobe, drawers and garage. Enjoy a new sense of clarity and confidence.
You can start this process as an inner journey: close your eyes, breathe deep, exhale relax and let go, feel your muscles relax, shoulders relax, forehead relax, tell yourself that it feels good to let go, allow thoughts to drift and flow, know that all is well, let a warm wave of relaxation flow through you. In your mind’s eye go around your home. As you explore the first room; be aware if anything makes you feel hot or cold? Angry or sad? Excited or nervous?
Allow your intuition to expand. See the room tidy, organised, fresh and free. Feel these in yourself, your life, your relationships. What you are doing here is telling your subconscious mind how you want things to be, you are now the master not the slave. Once you have envisaged the way you want things to be, write a plan of action.
Choose a time slot and do one small area at a time. You might want to start with your pantry or cutlery drawer. You might want to do it all in 48 hours. You might need help, so make sure you ask. Find a way that serves you but just make sure that you do it! Just thinking about it will have little impact.
It’s not the stuff that’s clogging your life, it’s the meaning you attach to that stuff. So you don’t have to have a completely clear, tidy room, if you love everything you have and it all makes you feel good then that’s fine.
Every time I try to clear out my daughter’s toys from her room (which she no longer plays with as she is in her late teens!) She re-connects with them. The old books, toys and teddies carry happy memories of her childhood. We have a plan where she keeps her favourites and we give the rest to charity.
You may worry that if you give away things from your past, you will lose connection with your past. Not true. Keep the memories not the things. Take a photo.
We fear that if we give something away, the person who gave it to us might be upset. But ask yourself this, “is this gift worth cleaning, storing and avoiding?” If you gave something to them and they didn’t like it, wouldn’t you tell them to freely pass it on?
Keeping old clothes that are bigger or smaller than you are now, is a sign that your subconscious mind is judging who you are! Don’t live for ‘someday’ live in the present. Love yourself the way you are. Buy clothes that you look and feel great in now! What you resist persists, which means that it is difficult for you to lose weight while you have those old clothes hanging around as a reminder.
Positive change will appear because you are creating space for new things to fly into your life, try it and see. Make space for what you want in your life. Those around you will start to feel that positive ripple effect, when they visit your home.
Have you had a positive experience after de-cluttering? Share with us in the comments.