Regardless of whether we enjoy a minimalist aesthetic or a space filled to the brim with knick knacks, decluttering can be beneficial for us all and does not mean we need to live in an almost object free space. Clutter refers to an untidy collection of things covering or filling an area. The word instantly draws associations with mess, rubbish and hoards of unused or unneeded items and as the state of our space so often impacts the state of our lives or reflects the state of our minds, decluttering it can provide us with a host of benefits.
If every item we own has a corresponding information tag stored somewhere in our minds, we expend a lot of energy keeping track of the things we accumulate in the physical world. Every thing we give our energy to requires focus, time and attention that might be utilisied more positively and joyfully in other areas. If we are agents of mind over matter living and where we focus our minds is how we experience matter, then having our energy and attention spread too thin can limit our ability to concentrate in the areas that most matter to us. If we are spending energy thinking about things we don’t even use, enjoy or want to keep then this effect is compounded because we spend additional energy on extra thinking about it.
Self love is expressed in many forms and creating a healthy and happy living space for ourselves is an act of self care that enhances our private and public lives. To care is to provide what is necessary for the health, welfare, maintenance and protection of someone or something and yet so many of us hold the belief that we are not worthy of care or attention from ourselves. Living in a cluttered space rather than one that has flow and generates a feeling of wellbeing denies us comfort and somewhere to relax and decompress and can be a background cause of stress or unease if we are aware of our desire for a clearer home environment but refusing to grant it to ourselves.
Allowing ourselves to declutter can be a helpful way of moving on from a past that we do not have fond memories of or that no longer serves us. We are not obliged to keep all of the things we have ever owned or used and not only are we allowed to dispose of things, give them away and downsize our lives, we can do the same when it comes to the memories and thoughts associated with them and our previous lifestyle and history. We can stop reliving things and let things go in our psychological world as well as we can in the physical as soon as we understand that we have the choice and permission to do so.
We are not the objects we own. We are so much more than the physical and whilst we can enjoy the material and thrive in the world of form and celebrate our abundance and accumulate things to our ego’s content, we are not the things we receive and purchase. With or without them we are the same essential energy. Letting go of identification with status symbols we don’t need or heirlooms we have no space for or expensive objects we no longer want, frees us from keeping the things that take up space in our lives that we require back and lets us maintain a stable and assured sense of authentic self when we get rid of them.
Facing the task of dealing with our clutter can be daunting and we hear stories constantly of people whose house fires or floods cleared their physical lives for them, leaving them relieved and grateful and able to start fresh and new. Feeling like we are carrying the weight of clutter, particularly when we no longer care for or are certain of our need for the items in question, can see us living in a permanent state of overwhelm and anxiety as well as experiencing an underlying sense of frustration or dejection because we are not taking action to deal with our clutter and relieve ourselves of the burden of possessions we have piled so high we can not even face working through them.
To declutter means to get rid of what is no longer necessary. This does not mean we need to throw away our spare luxury duvets or extra pairs of shoes or clear our garage of gadgets or downsize our tableware collection, it means we can assess our possessions every few months and decide which things no longer serve us or are useful to us. There is no right way to do this – we are not more spiritual if we pare down or more appreciative if we keep everything – other than the way that best serves our honest desires and evolutionary journey.
Looking at our collection of objects and deciding which are loved or appreciated or purposeful is really the most helpful way of knowing what to keep and what to get rid of when we declutter and allows us to organise them into our space in a way that doesn’t overtake it or upset its energy. Feng shui experts talk often about flow and we can feel on a very fundamental level when there is stagnant or trapped energy somewhere. There is a reason the phrase spring clean conjures images of freshness in our minds and it is because we all long for and appreciate a home that is clean and clear and whilst this will manifest in different ways for different people, recognising our need for a healthy space, honouring our right to it and allowing ourselves to create it can have benefits far beyond aesthetic values or concerns.