It is often said that the physical clutter we surround ourselves with is an external representation of what is going on in our mind.
I have found that to be very true for me many times. When my emotions become saturated and my mind cluttered with negative, self-sabotaging or repetitive thoughts, it seems to translate into my physical world. The drain on my mental and emotional energy consumed by being too caught up in my head seems to have a direct impact on the energy I have to take care of the physical belongings around me. Drawers get cluttered, paperwork gets left unattended and my world falls into a mess of disorganised chaos. The same applies when I emotionally don’t want to let something or someone go. That translates to an unwillingness on a subconscious level into not letting go of the physical things around us. Whether that is sentimental belongings we don’t actually love, clothes that no longer fit us or broken objects that should be binned but take up space in our home.
Before I realised there was a connection between my emotional state and the physical chaos around me, I tried many times in the past to clear myself of physical clutter and would often work hard to create an organised and simplistic space to live in where I felt I could breathe and escape from the outside world. Only to find that the next disagreement I had with someone that left me feeling upset, or the next cycle of having thoughts of dislike about myself, or when I felt let down or hurt by others, or simply got too caught up in my head overthinking a situation and second guessing what others thought, the clutter would seemingly magically reappear around me again to my dismay.
Feeling overwhelmed by too many things to take care of, or too much disorganised mess to wade through, can prevent us from having the space and time we need in the present moment to really enjoy life, and it also blocks us from growth, change and moving forward.
So here are some tips to help you de-clutter your life both physically and emotionally.
Emotional and mental clutter
Firstly bring awareness to the reality of your situation by asking yourself: What are you spending most of your time thinking about or replaying in your head?
Can you identify the stories you tell yourself over and over again, that keep you stuck?
What if you could wipe the slate clean and get rid of all those things that you are holding yourself back with? How would that make you feel? Relieved? Scared? Happy? Not in control?
All those old stories about how you are not good enough, smart enough, beautiful enough, deserving enough…it’s time to let that stuff go. It’s not the truth of who you are.
Here are some suggestions to help you get rid of those limiting beliefs and old stories:
Write a list of all the situations you feel resentment about, feel angry about or are simply tired of carrying around in your head. Once written down, burn your list and when doing so, set the intention you are willing to hand everything on that list over to the Universe. If burning it safely is not possible for you then at the very least tear it up into tiny pieces and throw it out. This really physical act can reinforce any thoughts or promises you make not to hold on to these things any longer. The release you get emotionally from such an act feels extremely liberating.
Write out a commitment to yourself and place it somewhere you can see it daily. It could read something like: “I insert name commit to making a dedicated effort to no longer self-sabotage, make excuses or engage in any activity that prevents me from moving forward and reaching my full potential.” Decorate your pledge, make an effort, put some love into writing it down, and make it nice to look at so you can put it somewhere in your home you can see daily.
Try EFT tapping (emotional Freedom Technique) to reprogram your thoughts. Each time you catch yourself churning over an old story or limiting belief in your mind, tap the centre of your forehead, between your eyebrows, for 30 seconds and repeat something positive to yourself. For example: “I am deserving”.
Become more aware. Simply recognising these old thought patterns that no longer serve you and stopping the runaway overthinking train in its tracks when it appears can help you greatly. Each time you catch yourself allowing your thoughts to spiral downward out of control, take a few deep breaths, put your favourite feel good music on, call a positive friend – do something to break the cycle.
Practice forgiveness. Forgive people who have caused you past hurt that still affects you today. Remind yourself no matter what they did, forgiveness is a gift to yourself. This is not about excusing anyone’s actions or unacceptable behaviour, this is about letting it go so that you can move on. You don’t need to search for them and forgive them to their face, they don’t even need to know about it, simply forgive them in your mind, or for something that has caused deep pain, write down who you want to forgive, what they did to you and burn or rid yourself of that piece of paper. Decide it’s time and let it go.
Speak up for yourself and voice your opinions, feelings and concerns as situations arise. Don’t allow emotions to build up within you. If someone upsets you don’t silence yourself. Speak your mind, clearly, calmly and with confidence. Very often we let the unsaid things we wish we had voiced play in our minds over and over again. It’s incredibly draining!
If you are finding the emotion and mental aspect of de-cluttering difficult, then perhaps starts with the physical aspect. Both are so inter-connected, that dealing with one will help the other.
Where do you physically need to create space in your life?
In a world that for the last 20-30 years has been driven by material possessions, a culture of buying and creating a false sense of security by surrounding ourselves with “things”, many of us feel completely swamped by the amount of stuff we have surrounding us and exhausted trying to maintain it all. The more we have, the more we need to clean, organise and take care of, and that requires our time, energy and effort.
How can you simplify your environment? What do you have in your home and work space that no longer serves you or brings you joy? Can you bring yourself to get rid of it? Can you let it go?
There are lots of books and websites that give you a variety of techniques to declutter your physical life in depth, but here are a few pointers to get you started.
Go through your wardrobe and remove anything that no longer fits you or that does not make you feel good when you wear it. (Donate them to charity or put them in a clothing recycling bin.) Store out of season clothes away until they are required.
Deal with paper work. Gather it up from all it’s regular hiding places around your home and action those that need dealt with and shred the rest.
Home décor. Do the items you have on display gather dust and are they on display through choice or obligation? If it doesn’t bring you joy get rid of it. If it was a gift, pay it forward and donate to charity. If it is sentimental, could you store it in a special box and look at it when you choose?
Clear even just one shelf or surface and do not put anything back on it for the next 3 days. Reflect on how it makes you feel to see the space. Can you sit with the feelings it brings up? Does it make you feel uncomfortable? Does it inspire you to think of something new to put on it or do with the area? Does it make you feel like you have space to breathe?
Don’t be tempted to buy more storage units or boxes to store things away in…these need cleaned and maintained too. This lesson is all about letting go and creating space….not more places to hide things away to be dealt with at a later date.
Try to enjoy the process of de-cluttering. Put on your favourite music while you do it. Set a timer and give yourself 10 minutes to clear a drawer. Give yourself a power hour where you commit to not being interrupted or distracted and simply see how much clutter you can power though in that time. Reward yourself after each thing you deal with and remind yourself this exercise is about freeing up space and time for yourself. You are going to feel great at the end of it!
Your clutter is trying to show you what is going on in your mind and in your heart.
Listen to it. Deal with it and liberate your mind, body and spirit by getting rid of it.