De-clutter your physical space and free up some mental space at the same time
So … this week’s blog, I wasn’t too sure what I was going to write about. I had lots of different things go through my mind but nothing seemed to be right. I’ve had a bit of a mixed week and I’ve finally got around to starting the de-cluttering of my house, commencing with the attic. I’ve moved a lot over the years, with my last move being my return from Lanzarote over three years ago and I still have boxed up items just sitting in the attic and in the garage!
It seems that I have lots of items stored, that just remain in boxes not doing a lot, that I just take from place to place adding too as I go through life. They are taking up space and not just in a physical sense but also in my mind. That might seem a strange thing to say but I believe that space in my mind that could be free to say, be more creative, is being taking up with firstly the knowledge that I have boxes of ‘stuff’ just sitting around and secondly the thought that I really should be doing something about them.
By keeping them around I’m holding on to all that’s in them and, in a way, the links and connections to the past because everything in the boxes has been acquired during the parts of my life which have now gone. As I am evolving and trying to get back on track from the past few decades (read about this in my previous blog, copy and paste the link into your browser – http://www.pangaeatraining.com/pangaea-training-blog/584/do-you-let-other-people%E2%80%99s-opinions-determine-how-you-live-your-life.aspx) I need to let go of what is past and focus on the present and on the future. Not an easy thing to do but, with all that getting back on track with my life means, I have to find ways in which to do this.
Whilst researching this blog I came across an interesting concept about clutter – that we create it in order to protect ourselves. (http://www.mindful.org/five-ways-to-declutter-your-body-and-mind/) and Brooks Palmer (Dec 2015) says that ‘When we can’t let go of something that we no longer use or love, there’s often an undercurrent of a feeling in us that says, “If I get rid of this thing, I will be hurt in some way.” We don’t think so consciously, but it vibrates in us as a feeling of fear that keeps us stuck. Deep down, this feeling holds sway over us. “I will experience pain if I let this go.”’
So, is all this clutter in some way, apparently, making us feel more secure and safe? By holding onto things does it mean we’re also able to hold onto memories, feelings, thoughts associated with them? Does it mean that in some way we can go back to the past and re-live it, hoping to have more of the good times and, maybe making better those times that weren’t so good? But is this a positive thing to do or is it stopping us from moving on and actually enjoying the here and now, knowing we’ve got all this clutter?
Trying to de-clutter
Even when I’ve decided to remove some clutter I often can’t bring myself to completely throw it away/let it go immediately – it often sits in a box waiting to be removed or, if I’ve made the decision too finally put it in the bin it won’t happen if that day is bin day, just in case!! Just in case what though?!! I tell myself, just in case I might need it, even though I may not have looked at it in years, or even knew I still had it! I have books, clothes, cards (birthday, Christmas, Mother’s Day, anniversaries) and not just my own, those that are my daughters’ as well! I still have boxes of their school work, baby clothes, books, cuddly toys, dvds, CDs and videos! I even have a box of my school work up there!
For years I have always had good intentions of de-cluttering and, when I moved to Lanzarote, I did have a good go at doing so but not enough and since then more has been acquired – oops!
De-cluttering and letting go
De-cluttering the ‘physical’ can only but help de-clutter the ‘emotional’ and ‘mental’ and free up energy that has been used negatively – this energy can then be used in a more positive, creative, and focused way.
Remind yourself they are only ‘things’ – they are not who you are and what you can be. I will be keeping hold of more personal ‘things’ such as letters, cards, photos and some special presents that I’ve received but I will be making a big effort to let most of what isn’t required, or going to be used again, go.
If you need to keep hold of some things maybe set a limit – for example with regards to my daughters’ schoolwork over the years, I’m going to just keep one box (not a big one!) for each of them and I’ll bin, or give back to them, the rest.
Make peace with your past, accept what it is and was and learn from it. You cannot change it no matter how much you may want to. Let go of those things that you have been holding onto just for the sake of it and, if something makes you unhappy when you see it, bin it!
Keeping hold of physical clutter is telling the brain that there is always something to be done and it just keeps it stimulated and exhausted. Once you have managed to de-clutter the physical you will find that your mind is also on its way to being de-cluttered but that isn’t the whole story as there are also other non-physical ‘thing’ taking up space in your head. This in turn can stop you being focused and lead to you being distracted and becoming an over-thinker and/or a worrier, hindering your ability to live in the present and be effective for the future.
So, as well as de-cluttering the physical you also need to de-clutter your mind and there are many ways in which you can do this, some of which have been referred to in previous blogs I’ve written.
Write things down – this can be done in two ways. Firstly, as a to-do list where you can keep details of appointments, numbers, things that need to be done daily, weekly, monthly. Secondly in the form of a diary/journal where you write more in-depth about what is going on in your mind. Writing things down can help your brain then to be kept ‘clear’ as such and aids with the de-cluttering of the mind.
Try to reduce the amount of information that you subject yourself too – with so much information available these days through so many different avenues it is no wonder that our brains/minds become so overloaded and so cluttered. You need to be more stringent with how much of this you allow into your life because it will, and does, take over. Be selective with the amount of time you spend on social media, limit the times and maybe set certain times aside for it and outside of those times don’t touch it. Identify what is not serving and/or is not relevant to you and, if it’s not serving you, then remove it from your life. You can always add it back in at any time if you decide it is important.
Take some time to relax and meditate – I want to be able to relax and be more chilled and have more ‘clear’ head space and mental energy so using the Headspace app is my first step on my ‘learning to meditate’ journey. Yes I still have clutter in my mind and in my life but, like I keep saying, I am a work in progress and it’s one of the many steps I am taking in order to achieve this.
‘Headspace is a digital service that provides guided meditation sessions and mindfulness training. Its content can be accessed online, or via their mobile apps.’
I'll leave you with a quote that, funnily enough, I've had pinned to my fridge door for years, i t refers to your house but I'd like to extend it to your mind as well. 'Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful' - William Morris.
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