So, I hope you all are doing well with this little endeavor! I am! Every day I thow out or rehome one grocery sized bag of stuff :) I am doing really really well with it. Know a quick and easy way to rehome that stack of romance novels you have on a shelf? The local public library or nursing home just love used paperbacks! Nursing homes, especially the Activities Department, are always looking for donations and are really grateful for whatever they get! And dont forget the Salvation Army for those clothes that just dont fit right anymore. Keep plugging!
Light and Love
Conquering the Clutter "Yeah, Buts"
by Stephanie Roberts
Is your home filled with a lot of stuff that you don't really use or need, but that you just can't seem to part with? Do you make quick progress in the first stages of clutter-clearing, only to hit a wall when the easy stuff is gone and you're faced with difficult decisions about what really counts as a "treasure"?
If you are challenged by clutter it's likely that your inner voice is saying "yeah, but..." a lot as you try to make your keep-or-toss decisions.
For example, you might pick something out of box or a closet and say to yourself, "I guess I don't really need to keep this," but before you can get it into a things-to-give-away bag, your inner voice pipes up with "Yeah, but..."
- "...it's pretty"
- "...it was my grandmother's"
- "...it was a gift from so-and-so"
- "...I paid a lot for it"
- "...I haven't used it yet"
- "...I might wear it again someday"
- "...it will fit after I lose some weight," or
- "...I'll feel guilty if I throw/give it away.".
Every time you pick something up and can't decide what to do with it, stop and listen for a "yeah but" comment from your inner voice.
Once you start listening to your "yeah buts", you'll get a clearer idea of the particular language of concern that stops you from letting go of things. Probably you will find that certain clutter decisions are much more difficult for you than others. For example, I have no qualms whatsoever about tossing out old letters and greeting cards, but getting rid of clothes that I haven't worn in five years because they are a size too small is very difficult for me. What this really means is that I am secure in knowing that the people who love me love me, but I am not at peace with the changes that middle age has brought to my body and don't want to accept that I'm not as slim as I used to be.
Someone else, however, might make quick work of cleaning out their clothes closets, only to come to a dead stop when faced with a 20-year collection of postcards and greeting cards. Their rational mind says, "this is a box of paper clutter, I ought to just toss it out." Their heart cries out, "I can't throw away my friends! I can't throw away my relatives! What kind of an unloving, ungrateful person would that make me?!" So back the box goes, into storage, and another would-be declutter is left feeing guilty and confused - guilty for holding on to clutter, guilty for wanting to throw it out, and confused by why it's so hard to get rid of things they'd rather part with.
With postcards and greeting cards, it really is the thought that counts. A greeting card is just that: a greeting, a paper "hello there." It deserves to be appreciated, but appreciating the gesture doesn't mean you need to keep the card forever. The same is true of gift items that don't suit you or your home. Ask yourself what your friends and relatives intended by sending you those cards and gifts; did they want you to know they were thinking of you, or did they intend to fill your home with clutter? Anyone who cares for you enough to send you a card or gift also wants you live comfortably and happily in a well-kept home that suits and supports you - and that means getting rid of your clutter.
So many of our "yeah, buts" have to do with past memories or potential future usefulness. Holding on to this stuff fills our heads and hearts with "what if" and "if only" messages, which make it harder to live fully in the present. When your closet is full of "skinny" clothes, for example, every time you open it to look for something to wear you are reminded that you used to be slimmer, that you're not happy with the size you are now, and that you're still hoping to lose some weight "some day." As a result, each time you reach for a "not-skinny" garment, you feel like a failure. What an unpleasant emotional message to burden yourself with every day! When your closets contain only clothes that are the right size and that fit your lifestyle and personality as well as your body, choosing an outfit becomes self-affirming and empowering instead of belittling.
Consciously remind yourself that you need to make a choice: are you going to go on living with clutter, or are you going to choose to move closer to your clutter-free goal? The clearer your vision of how you want your life to be without clutter, the easier it will be for you to make those difficult decisions.
By paying close attention to the "yeah but" messages that are keeping you from making clutter-clearing decisions, you gain insight into the emotions that contributed to all this stuff piling up in the first place. The key to conquering the "yeah, buts" is to remember that these are the second thoughts that pop up in response to your first thought, which was, "I guess I don't really need to keep this." That's the voice you should be listening to.
© 2005 Stephanie Roberts