Bea* has a busy life: finding balance with the demands of her life is difficult (work, family, friends & self). She often feels overwhelmed with everything even her charity work that used to bring her joy now feels just like another task that is draining her. Bea is often helping others out, she likes to be useful and it makes her feel good but some people around her are used to her never saying “no” and she at times feels used. Her home is a reflection of how she feels internally. It is full of stuff that she feels she ought to hold onto even if she never uses them.
Do your life and head feel cluttered? So much going on and you feel like you are always chasing your tail? Perhaps you feel stressed and exhausted. Does it feel like you are stuck in a rut and you are exhausted?
Maybe you carry a lot of burden from the past, constantly worry about what other’s think and the heaviness of it all weighs you down. A lot of us have emotional clutter that we carry around and struggle to let go of it. There may be multiple and varied reasons for your emotional clutter but it doesn’t have to wear you down.
I had heard about KonMari decluttering philosophy from a friend quite a while ago now but I picked up Marie Kondo’s book only earlier this year and it got me thinking how this philosophy beautifully applies to not only creating an environment that supports good well-being but how to take care of our psychological well-being too. I could immediately see how it could help my clients too. This post is inspired by KonMari books and does not cover the method in detail.
What is KonMari and how we hold onto physical and emotional clutter?
So if you have not heard of Marie Kondo, a Japanese lady, who has become a phenomenon in the field of decluttering. Central to the philosophy of KonMari is the idea of only holding onto things that spark joy and letting go of things that no longer bring joy. An essential part of letting go is thanking an object for its service to you and then saying goodbye to it. She advocates simplicity in your environment and surrounding yourself with objects that spark joy. Marie Kondo’s books are also full of examples of people who have decluttered both their homes and lives in general leading to drastic improvements in their well-being.
When we are in emotional pain we often hold onto things that may have been valuable to us in the past but no longer serve us anymore. This could be friendships that we used to value and still spend time wishing that the good times we used to share could be repeated when there isn’t a connection anymore. Or trying to fix a relationship that has gone beyond repair.
In fact, physical objects reminding us of the past experiences or emotional burden in form of memories and unresolved feelings that we keep going over and over without finding a resolution can make us feel trapped, anxious and low. Perhaps it is time to give us a permission to let go.
Steps for decluttering your life for having more joy in your life:
Acknowledge and recognise your internal pain – Take some time out and ask yourself: “How am I feeling?” Perhaps spend some time reflecting on what is going on internally. It is important to reflect on why we hold onto clutter. Perhaps it is there stopping us from feeling something painful. Perhaps we fear that if we let go of painful memories there would be nothing left to replace.
Become Mindful – Continuing from the above point…Turning inwards and observing without judgment your internal sensations can help you to get in touch with the real you (your needs and wishes) behind the emotional clutter.
Create a supportive environment – who do you want to support you and how can they support you? In the absence of suitable people around you, turn to a professional.
Physical environment – Create a space that gives you joy. If you are interested in learning about KonMari, there are lots of videos on youtube describing how you can start. When making any decision about whether to keep or discard an object, ask yourself: “Does this spark joy?”
Give yourself a permission to let go of the old stuff – Acknowledge the meaning something had for you in the past and then say that you are now ready to let go. You’ll be surprised how uplifting it can be letting go of the old stuff. Sometimes you may need professional help to process it first. Don’t be afraid to seek support.
Get rid of negative nellies – Assess your relationships with people – Do they spark joy? If not reflect on why these people are in your life. When letting go, acknowledge the value of the relationship to your self in the past.
Embrace vulnerability Ask yourself: What makes me vulnerable? Learn to love that quality about you. You may be interested in reading up on Brene Brown’s work on vulnerability.
Self-compassion: Be your own best friend, acknowledge that you are not alone in pain and it is a part of being a human being to be perfectly imperfect. Be mindful of your feelings.
Seek joy – Focus your life on finding joy and surrounding yourself with people, places, objects that give you joy. Learn to ask yourself: Does this spark joy? Yes or no? Let this simple question be guiding your path. If you find it difficult. Seek support for yourself.
I hope this piece got you curious about decluttering your emotional load for having more joy in your life. It is not always easy to let go; Take small steps towards decluttering. You deserve a life that sparks joy for you. If you need support in decluttering, seek support from a qualified mental health professional.
* The case example above does not refer to any actual current or past client but is a collection of experiences reported by many people.
Brene Brown: “Daring Greatly”, “The Gifts of Imperfection”
Marie Kondo: “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”, “Spark Joy”