Monday, 4 April 2011

Clearing the Clutter

Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.  Albert Einstein
Spring is the traditional time for cleaning and clearing out the old, allowing space for the new.  It is almost as if the world emerges like a butterfly from its chrysalis, and everything feels renewed and energised again.  This pattern of birth and death in nature is often reflected in our own lives in a continuous cycle.  If we don’t flow with this cycle and let go of the old, it creates clutter or stasis which is when we start feeling energetically stuck or blocked, and dis-ease results. 

Clearing clutter from our lives can be extremely therapeutic, and although sometimes difficult if we have a tendency to hoard, it can be uplifting and energising.  Clutter clearance doesn’t need to apply just to our wardrobes and shelves- it applies equally to how we spend our time, how we think, eat and work.  As writer Dr Lawrence J. Peter once said: If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind, what is the significance of a clean desk?” 

Firstly, identify the source of your clutter. Is it made up of books and paperwork? Outdated old clothes, or new ones you’ve never worn? Anxious or worrisome thoughts? Maybe you’ve cluttered your life with acquaintances and people who really don’t need to be in it anymore; maybe your mind is cluttered with fears and obsessions that you can’t let go of; or your body is cluttered with extra pounds, aches or pains?

Many people who really want to clear up are full of motivation and raring to go- what a relief when it’s free from piles of papers, books and ‘stuff’!  No more will I lose my car keys or have to eat on a tray on the sofa as my table is full of junk. Motivated people see themselves living in an uncluttered environment, surrounded by order and feeling healthy and happy.  Goodbye depression and lethargy; hello joy and tranquil living. 

But is this realistic in practice? Sometimes, yes, if you are good at it and ruthless with your possessions or determined to change your mindset and be focussed enough.  Allowing yourself get bogged down or stuck in old patterns and the fear of letting go is the main hurdle when wanting to create space in your life. Doubts such as: Will I really be able to cope with out this object or person in my life?  What if I regret this decision later on?  Getting out of your comfort zone is the hardest thing to do sometimes though you need to ask yourself, what can I gain from taking a risk?  Often, when we take that leap, we feel a renewed sense of vitality and self esteem.

Claire, a client of mine discovered this when she decided to let go of her relationship with her long term partner of ten years.  Over the years, her self esteem and confidence was gradually eroded away by her boyfriend with his constant jibes and criticisms about everything from her accent to the way she looked.  She came to see me as she felt on the edge of a breakdown and was tormented by self doubt and guilt, with the belief that she must have been a ‘terrible person’ for him to treat her this way.  She wanted to leave this relationship as she knew it was the main root of these feelings, though felt too scared to be on her own.  Gradually, through having counselling and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, she began to discover her inner strength again to the point where she was able to overcome her limiting thinking and transform her fear into courage, taking the action to get out of the relationship and over time, rebuild her self esteem.   

Action Points for starting to de-clutter your life:

  • Write down a list of your clutter under the headings of work, home, relationships, emotions, thoughts and your health or body.
  •  What purpose does holding on to this “clutter” serve in your life?
  • How would you feel if you didn’t have it any more?
  • What’s the “upside” of holding onto all your ‘stuff’?
  • What would be frightening if you let go of some of it?
  • What positive emotion does your clutter represent for you (love, security, comfort, warmth, wealth)?
  • What is the “downside” of letting go of some or all of it?
  • Prioritise the issues and choose 3 to work on this month.
  • Ask yourself, what’s the first steps towards changing these things? Make an action plan now on paper for each of them.  Commit yourself to taking at least one action a day. 
  • At the end of each week, review your progress and make another list for the following week, and so on.  This way, you will begin to chip away at the list and make progress gradually with de-cluttering your life.  
Remember with de-cluttering, it is important not to overwhelm yourself-making yourself feeling even more stuck is not the purpose of this exercise!  Some things are simpler than others to let go of though for most of us, we are prone to putting off when we feel as if it will be ‘difficult’ or ‘time consuming’.  The solution to this is to break it down into chunks and just do a little each day or each week and make clearing your life a life-long habit that you integrate into your everyday routine.  My first port of call will be my office desk- happy de-cluttering!

Alexandra Bacon is a certified Advanced EFT Practitioner, Counsellor, Bach Flower Remedy Practitioner, Wellbeing consultant and Trainer. To book your personalised treatment session please call Alexandra on 01629 825968/ 07950 568635.

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