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“Sometimes you’ve got to let everything go – purge yourself.
If you are unhappy with anything… whatever is bringing you down, get rid of it.
Because you’ll find that when you’re free, your true creativity, your true self comes out.”
This blog was inspired by my recently creating a powerful strategy to help a client purge and organize his mental and physical space. It jump-started me into my own spring cleaning of “letting go.”
I have observed that a person’s personal space – in their home or office – is a reflection of what goes on inside their mind, their subconscious and conscious beliefs. And this may be a scary thought!
A hoarder’s space is a disorganized mess, accompanied by a mental state that’s discombobulated, anxious and stressful.
At the opposite end of the spectrum there is someone who compulsively declutters. In 2013, obsessive decluttering was classified as an extension of extreme OCD. This condition causes sufferers to focus on distressing thoughts, generating stress and anxiety.
I want you to walk the tightrope in-between.
Full discloser: My mother was an extreme hoarder. In fact, in my teens my brother and I could no longer find a path through the living room to the couch. Obviously, my dear mother had some challenging mental issues.
I am a reflection of my mother, so I must do everything I can to, periodically, let go and declutter. Fortunately, I have a very organized and precise wife as my support system.
The concept of decluttering and organizing our lives is on-going, like the change of seasons. Spring is the time to clean, clear and let go. Now is the time for you to make more space in your life.
Why do we hold on to “stuff” in the first place? The obvious reasons are that we believe it gives us comfort or makes us feel prosperous. The hidden reasons are often related to our way of defining our “identity” or to alleviate subconscious fears, such as loss, self-worth and poverty.
Warning: Deeply held fears often bubble to the surface when letting go and purging. This is a good thing because, then, they can be explored and muted.
So, where does one begin? With so much ‘stuff’ filling every area of our lives – from garage to bedroom, from our in-box to desktop- it can be quite a challenge knowing how, or where, to begin clearing.
After years of experimentation, I came up with a system that will greatly enhance your ability to let go with less stress. It also gives you the advantage of visualizing and rehearsing in your mind before physically purging. As Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is a preview of coming attractions.”
Due to the nature of this exercise, you will find it more effective by physically writing. However, the way you execute it is up to you. So let’s get started:
- Choose one space at a time. I.e., the garage, a closet, drawers, a storage area, your desk, etc.
- Walk around and explore the space. Write down everything and I mean EVERYTHING that you define as clutter.
A good rule of thumb is to notice everything on the floor, everything that’s stacked, everything collecting dust, everything you’ve tucked away and everything you have not worn in a year or so (the average person wears only 10-20% of their clothes).
IF YOU GET STUCK: Imagine your life without the item and be aware of how that makes you feel. Your body will tell you the truth.
- Read your list, take a very deep breath and…
- Go through the entire list and mark everything as either a V or a P.
V = Vision pile
P = Purge Pile
Vision pile: This pile contains items that you will use or wear within the next year, OR, that truly enhances your life and makes you feel good. It is OK to list items that may be useful or hold strong memories and reflect the kinds of things you want in your life.
Purge pile: This pile contains items that make you feel emotionally heavy, overwhelmed. They no longer make you feel good.
- Circle the items listed in your purge pile.
- Immediately decide which of these items you are going to trash, sell or give away.
- DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!
- Move on to your next space and repeat the process.
Warning: After sorting through the clutter of your purged items, there’s often a temptation to store these piles and boxes neatly out of sight, rather than totally letting go. Resist it. Remove them NOW.
I will never be nor want to be a minimalist. What I want you to do is purge in a manner that reduces your stress and anxiety, lightens your spirit and makes space for new, important things. By letting go, you can create more internal and external space and this, in turn, will have a positive influence, rippling across every aspect of your life: mental, physical, spiritual, emotional and social.
Afterthought: You can apply this same system by reevaluating the quantity of your digital information, apps on your phone, icons on your desktop, personal commitments and daily routines.
IF NOT NOW, WHEN?