The deeper why behind decluttering your life


Having more time at home, I have finally turned my attention to decluttering and also to sorting out my filing. Although I’m relatively tidy, I also know that the garage and ‘those cupboards’ are getting rather clogged up with things I really have no more use for.  

I’ve been taking advice from Marie Kondo. Her book: ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’ is a blueprint for having more from less. Her tidying magic six-stage process is based on doing it once and doing it properly. It comprises of:

  1. Go through it all
  2. Sort by categories, not room by room but by type e.g. clothes, books, papers, komono (the Japanese for miscellaneous) then sentimental
  3. It is not a sprint so go easy. Take breaks. Get out into the fresh air. 
  4. Take time to sit down and examine each item you own. 
  5. Ask yourself if it gives you joy or is practical.  
  6. Then decide what to keep or discard and where to put it.  

So far, so good.

Now I want to put my therapist’s hat on and ask you (as indeed I’ve asked myself) to go beyond the ‘how to’ steps of this process and dig deep to the ‘why’.  

Why do you want to declutter?

Why do you think you acquired so many things that you now have no use for or that don’t bring you any joy? 

How satisfied are you with your job?

I do love having special and sentimental items around the house. Items such as a pair of blue Chinese vases inherited from my parents. I remember as a small child, when we lived above their Grocery shop, that the takings from each day were stuffed inside them for safekeeping.

I don’t believe that my happiness is dependent upon me clearing my house into a minimalist’s dream. I don’t think that my long-term emotional wellbeing will be achieved by buying lots of containers and colour coding my pens then rearranging all my books so they look like something from a Pinterest design board.  

What I do know however, is that I don’t need eight pairs of jeans and 20 pairs of shoes, particularly when all of my appointments are on Zoom now and I’m only seen from the waist up. I have been guilty in the past of filling myself up with ‘stuff’. This is why many people overeat as they want to fill that empty feeling inside with something comforting; food. 

The true decluttering starts within. What old feelings and hurts do you need to let go of?

Here is a quick and effective way to start the process:

  • Take a piece of paper and write a letter – perhaps to someone who has hurt you or even just to a loved and trusted guide such as a parent, a deity or someone you respect.
  • Write down why you feel hurt and where the hurt came from – explain how it has affected you and how you want to feel when the pain is over.
  • Then take the note and burn it somewhere – scatter that pain to the wind literally and emotionally.  

 Now fill yourself up in a healthy and positive way.

Do more of what makes you feel good and need less other ways to fill up you, your home and your life.