How to Declutter for Better Relationships
During my journey from artist to room designer to room consultant one big topic keeps coming up. Clutter.
Clutter is a popular topic in home decor blogs these days. There are countless articles written everyday on the subject and they all pretty much say the same thing - If you declutter your life will be simpler and less stressful. If you declutter you'll be happier. And I do agree that to a certain degree this is true, but I think these blog posts are missing an obvious yet important point that keeps us from truly decluttering our homes.
The clutter in our homes is incredibly emotional. We are connected to the things that we collect.
Our earliest ancestors started collecting things for survival...tools, berries, vegetables, and fibers. It makes sense that we would develop an emotional attachment to the things that gave us nourishment and helped us to survive harsh weather.
However, today we have stuff that gives us nourishment like blenders and refrigerators and our homes shelter us from harsh weather. We also decorate our homes with things that give us emotional nourishment and comfort like furniture, artwork and other random items.
In fact, I would say that our homes are even more emotionally charged than our ancestors. Our modern culture places so much emphasis on the individual that in many ways our homes have become a symbol of who we are.....and there's really not much that's more emotionally charged than our identity. We then add two or three or four people to a household and a whole bunch of stuff that has emotional ties to each individual and it gets complicated.
I'm not arguing for you to get rid of everything and live in a yurt. I'm not a minimalist. But I have some insight into how to go about decluttering that might be helpful.
But first let me tell you a story.
Back when I owned an art gallery people (particularly women) would come in all the time and gush over a piece of art. They would have such joy in their eyes that it made me smile, but when I walked over to ask them about it almost every single one would slump their shoulders and defensively respond that they already had too much stuff.
And after a while I realized that it wasn't that they had too much stuff. It was that they had the wrong stuff.
So when I started speaking on podcasts about the magic of designing rooms around how you want to feel...decluttering inevitably came up...and here's why...
We don't think about how the items we buy feel...instead we bring things into our homes out of need, to please others or out of obligation. I know this because for years I had houses filled with things that I realized later I didn't really want and that made me feel like crap.
I kept pictures, things I'd inherited, and things people had given me because I thought that I had to. So when I went on a huge decluttering spree of things in my house I realized that I was holding onto the items in my house like I was holding onto relationships in my life.....they were relevant and even fulfilling in my past but they weren't serving me now and they were holding me back from being the person that I wanted to be.
So when I started going through my house room by room and giving things away to goodwill it was incredibly emotionally taxing. Why? Well, because I was physically taking out of my life the items that emotionally represented people and past situations.
And that's why people often have the wrong things in their houses....because their houses are filled with things that represent either 1) who they should be to please other people in their life, 2) an ideal that doesn't really match who they really are or 3) people or past situations that they need to forgive or simply let go.
Once I let go of all of the physical things in my house that represented the above things I was shocked! All of my stuff easily fit into an 8'' x 10'' storage unit! When I stood back and looked at all of my stuff in the unit I remember feeling first a huge sense of relief and then a sense of regret for all of the years that I surrounded myself with things that didn't serve me.
To mirror my stuff I also decluttered my life of people that I thought that I had to have in my life, ideals that didn't really match who I am, and the past which I needed to let go so that I could allow the truest happiest version of myself out.
This decluttering has left a vacuum that is filling itself up as I write this post. I can't tell you that everything has magically fallen into place but what I can tell you for sure is that my life has more purpose than it ever has.....and I can visualize and FEEL what I want my life to be like like never before. I have certainty about how my future relationships are going to look like and I have certainty about how I want the things that surround me to feel......and it feels damned good!
So join me...and declutter to clear your life of the shoulds and the past. And then replace it with how you want to feel.
How can you do this?
Check out my book - The Powerful Room. It will provide a system with worksheets and tutorials about how to shift your mindset around home decor and pick items that make you feel energized.