Clean, wrinkled clothes bundled in the laundry basket waiting to be folded; dirty clothes and towels to the brim of the hamper; a closet full of not-so-cute hand me down dresses, shirts and sweaters that I’ve never worn in years, yet swear to one day when I get the right pair of shoes or when it comes back into style; dozens of books, many purchased years ago still unread; decorative boxes filled with sentimental papers, cards, pictures and miscellaneous just sit dusty on shelves stacked one on top of the other; composition notebooks, papers, notepads filled with personal and professional agendas, thoughts, goals, ideas, random musings in no particular order; bins weighing a hundred pounds packed with elementary, high school and college notebooks, papers, folders, and God knows what else, which haven’t been looked at, sorted through or touched probably since the time they were placed inside.
AHHH! The overwhelm of clutter!
Sound familiar? This is what I like to call Classic Packrat Behavior (CPB). (Thanks, mom, for passing down the great habits.)
If you’re anything like me, clutter in your physical space creates clutter in your internal space. I’m not able to think straight, I feel tension in my body, a sense of internal restriction, and I find myself doing a lot of procrastination, resulting in a cluttered mess of my priorities. I create busy work for myself without actually accomplishing anything of real importance. Tasks, errands, and business work get all jumbled up with no sense of logical order or priority. Things of very low urgency, such as “take rings to jeweler for resize”, end up at the top of the to-do list taking precedence over things of very high urgency, such as “make marketing poster for the yoga studio to attract new clients,” or “fold the damn clothes!”
When our physical space is cluttered, our universe is too. When our universe is cluttered, we can’t think straight, we’re not able to act straight, and life begins to look like a messy, wrinkled pile of clothes just waiting to be ironed out, folded, and compartmentalized into it’s appropriate place.
As a young child being annoyingly obsessive about cleaning, organizing, and decluttering- to the point where in a frustrated frenzy of getting our Junk Room cleaned, I’d throw people’s things away without telling them because I decided they didn’t need it anymore since they hadn’t touched it in years (sorry, Mom)- I’ve found that once everything was neatly organized and stocked away, I always was able to breath a little better. I always felt this invisible weight lift off my shoulders. I not only saw more space in the room, but I physically and internally felt more space inside my mind and body. I was able to think straight and would go to sleep feeling really refreshed, replenished, and very clear-headed.
Being a naturally inquisitive and solution-driven person, it became important to me to ask:
- Why must I keep ugly, outdated clothes that I never wear?
- Why am I so painfully apprehensive to throw away books and papers that I’ve never looked at and probably never will?
- And how is this physical clutter directly connected to my internal state of being?
This is when I discovered Marie Kondo’s book, “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” It helped me not only gain clarity on why my physical space impacts my internal space, but how to clean it up to experience positive impact in every aspect of my life, including career, health, passion, and relationships.
1. Honing of my decision making skills
We tend to struggle sometimes trusting our intuition and feeling fearful of making the “wrong” decision. Therefore, actively calling upon and engaging our intuition is vital to our decision making processes. And the only way to get good at this is repetition. In determining what to keep and what to discard, starting first with clothing (since these usually are the least emotion-evoking), the simple technique of asking, “Does this spark joy?” over and over again, strengthened and honed my decision making skills, sharpened my intuition, and gave me the confidence to trust in what I was feeling. Pieces of clothing that sparked joy created this indubitable, duh feeling, like of course this sparks joy; I love this dress. Therefore it was very obvious to then determine what did not spark joy; and into the donation bag it went. Feeling communication and harmony between my gut, my head, and my actions was a very liberating and empowering experience. This very process of seeking that spark of joy, feeling that kick of intuition, and then making a conscious decision can be applied to every other area of life, providing potent confidence in how we operate our lives.
2. Letting go of my past and of all that does not positively serve me
I feel lighter in having less. I hadn’t realized just how much I had consumed over the years and how cluttering of my mind and in my life it had become. Knowing in the back of my mind that I wanted to purge my closet and clean out my papers, was more of a forefront distraction than I had realized. My inability to prioritize properly and stay focused on things of actual importance was coming from the distraction of things I needed to clean up and declutter from.
3. Discarding doesn’t get me down anymore
It’s common to fall into packrat traps because we feel bad to throw things away. The process of discarding possessions that no longer spark joy in my life gave me this newfound appreciation for the time they did fully serve and provided joy. I realized that I didn’t need to hold onto everything just because “I used to really love this dress” or because “my friend gave me this book (that I never read)”. The time it has served it’s purpose has come to an end. Sincerely thank it and discard.
4. Gratitude and a deep state of presence and peace
A very common function of the egoic mind is something I like to call The Lack Trap. That which once provided great joy, we end up becoming very unhappy with and thus desire different and better. We obsess over obtaining this “better” thing because we swear it’s going to bring eternal happiness and make our life perfect; and once we get it, we soon fall right back into our state of lack. Shedding light on the gratitude for my joyous possessions (as well as former joyous items that have now been greatly thanked and discarded) created a ripple effect and invited more gratitude into my life. For example, just when I was getting sick of my current living situation (The Lack Trap), I was reminded to show gratitude for having a roof over my head and a warm bed to sleep in. Gratitude produces a great sense of peace, and thus we allow anxiety, worry, and urgency of “needing” new and better to gracefully fade away. This power of presence affords us the gift of accepting and being grateful for what is.
5. I’m left with only the good stuff
There’s a reason this “does this spark joy” stuff works. I was left with only the good stuff that suits me, inspires me, and energizes me. Clothes that make me feel good and look good; books on topics that I am truly passionate about; and items that fill the room with positive energy. I also purged a lot of stuff from the past no longer clinging onto me, which allowed me to reflect on all the growth I’ve achieved over the years. I gained a clearer sense of who I truly am and what I actually like, which inspired a very vivid vision of my goals.
6. A complete and reliable wardrobe
Since your clothes are able to breathe now in your closets and drawers and you have only what you absolutely love, you’re now able to see gaps. You know what you need. For example, I got rid of all my crappy, lounge around sweatshirts and realized I didn’t have any more comfy pull overs. So, I went out and got two new sweaters that I absolutely love and now wear all the time. This applies to everything else: shoes, a jacket, a colored pair of jeans, etc. Only a few key pieces are required to have a complete and reliable wardrobe.
7. Getting dressed is no longer a nightmare
I can see everything, I know what’s there, and I don’t have to waste time sifting through stuff that I don’t wear and don’t like. Less stress in the morning equals more feel good energy throughout the day. Plus, you’ll feel fabulous in your clothes. Win-win.
8. A space to call my own
There is such importance in having a designated space to call your own, a space to retreat to peacefully and calmly at the end of the day. This personal space continues to welcome us time and time again, suiting all of our needs of relaxation, rest and stillness. Carving out sacred time to ourselves and to our thoughts in this quiet space is vital to our overall health and well-being, mental-emotional stability, productivity at work, healthy relationships, passion, drive and ambition, and so much more. Therefore we need to treat this space with respect and keep it in clean, working order, so it can continue to serve us.
9. I feel good!
There’s no doubt that physical space is energetically linked to internal, universal space. When our stuff is organized, our life is organized. Experience the internal shift for yourself.
Can you relate to this? How has clearing clutter in your physical space created more internal space?