Break the emotional hold clutter has over your life. Confidently let go of what no longer works for you.

Relief

The great thing about letting go of things, people, and activities that no longer serve you is that you feel relief.

Relief is one of the best feelings. The heaviness falls away and you get peace of mind.

The feeling of peace is not flashy, so it’s often undervalued.

But the peace that comes from letting go of clutter is deeply satisfying and is spiritually, physically, and mentally nutritious.

Clutter Busting a Lifestyle

I was asked about this clutter situation: “I’m trying to clutter bust attempting to control other people. I recognize it’s hard to let this go, because it’s a lifetime habit. I don’t know how to begin a real lifestyle change like that. Also, could you answer the question using an outline format, with points (numbered) and sub-points (lettered) for each step? (Just kidding on that part).”

Recognizing that you are uncomfortable with a certain activity is the first step towards changing it. Pain alerts us that something needs our attention. “Trying to control people hurts me! I need to stop doing this.”

The second step is recognizing that you’re looking to change a lifetime habit, as you said. That means the behavior has momentum behind it and could take you some time to find a new way of doing things. You’re used to controlling people and it’s how you naturally react to a situation. It probably happens automatically and unconsciously, so it’s important to notice that you don’t even have control over this controlling behavior! This is a compassionate way to approach change. It can give you the patience you need to bring about lasting, satisfying transformation. It’s a good beginning.

I suggest these two steps because what usually happens is we see that our behavior is causing us pain, we desperately want the pain to stop, we expect we should be able to stop it, and we can’t right away because it’s ingrained. We get frustrated, we think something is wrong with us, and we want to give up. But you seem to already have taken these two steps. So what’s next?

You don’t want to try and exert control over yourself. Control is force. It’s harsh and takes a toll, and doesn’t result in the positive change you’re looking to bring about. It doesn’t feel good to be controlled. Seeing that in yourself can actually help you start to realize that other people don’t like the feeling of being controlled either.

The third step is to be curiously aware of your behavior. Notice when an uncomfortable reaction comes up.  “Hmmm, I’m noticing that what ____ did is causing me to try and control their behavior… I’m feeling scared that they can hurt me, so I’m doing things to manipulate them into doing what I think would make me safe…I notice I can’t help myself from doing this. At the same time, this experience is making me feel lousy. I was compelled to do this because I thought it would make me feel better, but it’s actually making me feel worse.”

This kind of an awareness creates an openness that allows healing to take place. The healing comes from somewhere beyond our capabilities in a given moment. It’s subtle and powerful. You may find yourself feeling less guilt about your behavior. You may find yourself apologizing for what you did, to yourself and the other person. You may find the painful behavior rising up less often. You may find yourself understanding where the other person is coming from, and feel less of a need to control their actions. You may come up with a solution you had never thought of before. Or, because of your openness, a new and more beneficial situation presents itself.

Basically, you want to always be kind to yourself in the process of changing your habits. You want to observe openly without criticism the influence the habit has on your life. And you want to let that new pattern of observation open you up to healing. All of this brings in compassion and understanding, which is maybe what you were looking for all along.

Creating Space for What Supports Me Now

Recently I had a powerful and deeply personal clutter bust of my own.

I woke up in the middle of the night and had a strong sense that something felt off. Something felt wrong and I needed to do something about it – now. I realized it was the air purifier in my bedroom.

I’d had this air purifier for over three years. I got it back at a time when I was really sick and almost dying from a lung disease. It was a top of the line air purifier that they use in hospitals. The purifier did an amazing job of cleaning the air, and I’m sure it helped in my staying alive and recovering.

But the air purifier had gone from serving me to clutter when I became aware in that moment that it was now was a painful reminder of a very difficult time. Its presence said, “You are very sick!”

The deeper feeling was, “I’m well now. I need to have things around me that support my wellness, both physically and mentally.”

I got out of bed and unplugged the air purifier. The bedroom got very quiet. The presence of the quietness was profound. In that silence, I felt the strength of my healthy body. I was emanating health. Things felt right again.

I moved the air purifier into the kitchen and went back to bed. I felt relaxed. It was like a weight had been lifted off me.

The next day I gave away the air purifier. I felt like I was honoring it by giving it to someone else. I was saying, “Thank you for helping me, and now you are free to help someone else.”

Your Most Valuable Possession

Your life is your most valuable possession. It’s been with you since you were born. It’s with you as you read this. If you are not alive, you can’t experience any thing, person, or activity.

There’s great fulfillment when you are aware of and cherish your being alive.  It takes some attention though to be grateful for aliveness. Being alive is common to us. It’s always been there. We can’t imagine not having our life. That’s why it can be hard to value.

It’s easier to be aware of what’s in your life because those things come and go. You notice because of the contrast.

But without the connection to your aliveness, you can never truly be fulfilled by the people, things, and activities of your life. That’s clutter.

You can get reconnected to your awareness of being alive by taking a step away from activities and things and taking some time to yourself. Even just for a moment.

Like right now.

As you sit there, put your attention on your body. Feel any sensations. An itch, or a pain, or the feeling of your clothing on your body. Maybe you feel a sense of energy or a current. Our bodies are electrical, vital, living machines. See if you can sense that presence. The feeling is simple and basic.

You might notice your breath coming in and out of your body. Your breath is life. Without breath you wouldn’t be alive. The breath comes in freely. You can feel that life flow into and through you. The blood carries that oxygen throughout your entire body. That’s life flowing through you!

This feeling is being alive is yours. It’s you essentially. It’s always there, even when you’re not aware. It’s what allows you to experience everything in your life.

This kind of looking has a life of its own. It can come to you at anytime. See where it takes you.