The minimalist lifestyle has become increasingly popular in recent years. With lifestyle coaches and mentors like Marie Kondo, it has come to many people’s attention a fact that, incredible as it may seem, many of us had not noticed: we are drowning in stuff.
Of course she’s not the first to point her finger at the notion that we are more trapped than liberated by the possessions we accumulate in our living spaces, but she’s certainly one of the most prominent voices in the “de-cluttering” arena.
I find Marie’s system very effective because one of its main focuses resides on what brings joy to our lives. It implies a personal relationship with the material possessions in our lives, one where we acknowledge the service the objects provided us with. It requires of us to be thankful to the object because of the use we got out of it, but I would add that we would also be grateful to ourselves, or the conditions in our lives that allowed us to own with these objects.
The focus on keeping objects that give us joy is also essential to building a living space that will allow us to enjoy our lives, a space that reflects the comfort and the beauty that we carry inside and that is paramount for our well-being.
This reflection of our inner being that can be seen in our surroundings is a very illuminating factor of what we might need to work on in terms of our development and our ability to love ourselves.
There were moments in my life when I lived in a horrendously chaotic cluttery chaos. I had two bedrooms, one of which was first full of boxes from when I moved out of my parents’ home. The problem was, at first, I never saw the need to unpack. So, whenever I needed something out of one of those boxes, I would just take it out, and when I needed it no more, I just threw it back into the bedroom. Of course, there came a point where it was impossible to enter that room, and I could never find anything I needed.
The bedroom I slept in was a similar story. I was so depressed at the time that I couldn’t be bothered to pick anything up, there were more books out of the shelves than on them. I started buying clothes that didn’t need to be ironed because I really didn’t have the energy for anything else but the bare essential activities in my life. I went to work because I had to, but that was pretty much it.
All this horrible mess in my life was just a very vivid reflection on what was going on inside me. When I started incorporating new people into my life at the time, I died just to think that they might want to come to my house, not only for the disgusting chaos they would see there, but more importantly, they would see the horrible chaos I was inside.
Later on I moved house, and I was forced to pack those boxes again. Of course, the internal mess followed me where I went. However, when that happened, I realised that this had happened. That the background was new, but my problems weren’t. I had brought my mess with me, because I was still deeply steeped in the emotional and mental mess myself.
And then I started to realise another thing as well. That I believed, deep inside, that I didn’t deserve to live in orderliness, in simplicity, in cleanliness and comfort, that the mess around me was not only a reflection of how I felt inside but also a punishment I handed to myself for all my mistakes. That was a lot of self-hatred.
After a six-year old relationship ended, I found myself having to move again. But this time, two different things happened:
- I refused to move again with my problems on tow. There and then I decided to free myself from the ties from my past, from the guilt and the shame I was carrying . I decided I could start living again, that I deserved a beautiful space to live in. That even when I made mistakes again (and of course I have made them, and will make them in the future again), I deserve peace, I deserve love, and I deserve purity in my living space. I still need to correct my mistakes, to apologise if necessary, to shadow work, but I choose now to learn with joy in my heart. I can learn the same lessons from love than from pain.
- I got rid of many objects that were of no use to me. I have learned to travel more lightly, to think about what I need and what I don’t need in terms of personal possessions. I had been a bit of a hoarder all my life, because holding on to stuff allowed me to preserve the memories of people, places and feelings. I used to even hold on to things that reminded me of tragic, sad situations or people who hurt me, mainly because I thought that those situations or people were also a part of me.
And of course they were a very important part of me. I am who I am partly because of them. But now I understand you don’t peel a banana, eat the fruit and keep the peel because the banana is now a part of you. You throw it away, or you can compost it, just like Natalie Goldberg says, so that it nurtures the fertile soil of your life and your imagination, you thank it for the service it provided you, and then you let it go.
You can start, little by little, to clean up your living space. Do it with love, with gratitude. It can be very tough work, because many emotions will be moving. But that’s ok. It is necessary to see them, to acknowledge them, so that you can accept that they were useful, that they are now a part of you, and then let them go.
Little by little, when you clear up all this space in your mind and in your home, you will discover that you have more space to breathe, to move, to live and to love. You deserve to be surrounded by beauty and joy, because beauty and joy are your essence. They live inside of you, and they want to live outside, too. If only you would let them…
Love and blessings!!!