Category Archives: clutter

Let It Be a Blessing (new ideas for decluttering)

Last month I attended a spiritual/energy workshop in which the instructor repeatedly referred to her “collections” of items, such as books and craft supplies. Since it was a spiritual workshop, I have to admit I was somewhat surprised to hear about the extent of her collections. For some reason, I had come to believe that the spiritual path was devoid of clutter! The general belief I held went something like this:

Spiritual awakening is a process of divesting oneself of the physical in order to be 100% in touch with the Divine.

Umm…what?!? No. That’s death, not awakening. I know I don’t believe that. However, I can see how that belief had come to exist, because I think we all hear it every day from countless places (it doesn’t have to be a spiritual guru).

Until I heard a spiritual teacher admit to owning thousands of books, I didn’t fully realize how pervasive that story was in my environment. Messages like:

We have too much stuff, and we have to get rid of it.
Live simply. Pare down.
Clear out. Declutter.

But why?

The conversation in my head prompted me to truly explore my beliefs about clutter and possessions. It has forced me to look at my own life and make new decisions about old things. Here’s what I now know:

Things are things. They’re not memories. They’re things. The memory of something is held inside you – not in the porcelain of the dish on your dresser. (The dish may be the trigger that prompts you to access the memory, but it’s not the memory itself.)

That being said, it’s also true that things are more than just things. Here’s what I mean: Some “things” are more meaningful than other “things.” And therein lies the key to deciding what to keep and what to release.

It occurred to me that the teacher’s collections bring her joy. Her “things” add value to her life by giving her hobbies and allowing her to create art and beauty. The value is not in the monetary equivalence of her library, it’s in the joy she imparts when she talks about the books she has read and owns. Her collections are not an accumulation of “things,” but rather they are a curated assortment of items that have brought her joy, knowledge, experience, and connection.

So, instead of looking at our belongings as clutter, what if we looked at each item and assessed its energetic value in our life? We do so by asking this question:

Does this item add value to my life, does it bring me joy?

If it does, then great! Use it, enjoy it, and take care of it. If it doesn’t, then it may be time to let it go.

Energetically speaking, every item in your home carries an invisible mark. The mark is the emotional energy the object carries. That mark speaks to you each time you see the item. For example, if you bought a handbag or wallet because you received a bonus at work it will carry a different energy than if you bought the same item when you were in debt, mad at someone, and/or did a bit of retail therapy. The energy is there. The key is to assess the energetic value of the item and make a decision on whether it stays or goes.

And, to help you with the releasing, let me share with you a phrase a friend of mine gave me years ago when I was cleaning out my overflowing closet:

“Let it be a blessing to someone else.”

There are people for whom that guilt-laden item would be like winning the lottery. Let it be a blessing for them.

What now?

What do you do, when you don’t know what to do? I was recently asked this question by one of my clients. And truth be told, I’ve asked it of myself many times before. It’s more common than you might think. Often times it simply comes in the form of doubt or fear: Fear of moving forward, fear of not moving forward; Fear of making the wrong decision, and fear of making the right decision. Sometimes others provide us with the answer of, simply, “do anything!” But is that helpful? I suppose it can be, but the vagueness of that reply can reinforce and underscore the feeling of emptiness inherent in the question. So, while it’s certainly encouraging – it’s not necessarily helpful.

Here’s what I think works better: when in doubt, leave it out. Initially, perhaps that’s a bit counterintuitive, but it makes sense if you look at it. So let’s do that. If you are in doubt about something, it automatically muddies the water of your life by creating friction between your conscious and subconscious minds. Muddy water can then seep into other areas that were previously quite clear, which ultimately results in the exasperated feeling of “what now?” So, to start with, we omit the portion that is sullying the water. Yes, it’s easier said than done – but here’s a trick:

Rather than focusing on omitting the cause, focus on everything else. Go as simple as you need to go, until you are in clear water again. As with everything, when we focus on the negative things and try to change them – we only give them more power and influence over our lives. But if we focus on the positive things, and do our best to expand them, then we are really living authentically for who we are. Here’s an example:

A few years ago, I experienced this feeling of “what now?” and I felt myself going in circles. I tried to fix that which I thought was broken, and the resulting distraction from what was good in my life only caused the good things to be more neglected and ultimately need my “fixing” attention as well. I realized, with help from others, that this was not working, and I paused, shifted my attention, and started to focus on that which was good. Nurturing it, loving it, accepting it. Unfortunately, I had let it go so far, that I was really stripped back to the basics. I spent many days and weeks waking up and simply looking around me and allowing myself to feel grateful for the simplest things: a beautiful tree outside my window, a bird’s song, a smile from a friend, a roof over my head, food on my table, etc. You get the idea. These are the simple things that most of us take for granted, because we have been too busy, or not had occasion to be without. In light of what’s going on in Haiti, this exercise is even more poignant. Oprah introduced the concept of a Gratitude Journal to the world. This concept has been around for a lot longer though. A child’s prayer by his bedside at night is the original ‘gratitude journal’ – whether he is praying to God, Allah, Buddha, etc.

What I’m saying is that when we feel overwhelmed by life, and all the chaos and clutter in our minds, hearts and houses – the best way to move forward into peace, happiness and serenity, is to seek out that for which we are grateful, and focus on those things, one at a time. Once our attention is turned, and we can catch a breath or two, we can then take deliberate action, one step at a time, to make changes in our life that will lessen the chaos and disorder. Therefore, instead of looking at a pile of laundry, look at the many clothes you have, and be grateful. Then, do one load at a time – maybe one load a day, until you’re caught up. When it’s all folded and ready to be put away – perhaps there are a few items that you no longer need: items that have added to the chaos and clutter in your life. These are items that may be a blessing to someone else. Could you let go of them? When we are truly grateful for what we have, we sometimes realize that we have too much. Especially in times of need, what a blessing it would be to share our abundance with others. Not only will we be helping someone else, but we will be helping ourselves, too – by taking steps toward preventing a future uprising of that “what now?” feeling.

It all begins with your decision to pause, and choose a different perspective. And isn’t that just amazing? That a feeling as overwhelming as “I don’t know what to do,” can be transformed into empowerment within a few seconds, simply by pausing, looking around you and allowing yourself to appreciate what you already have, and what you already have done. What a gift.

In love and light,