Tidying Up

Tidying Up

In an effort to become more organized, I started watching “Tidying Up”. If you are familiar with this reality show, you know that people whose homes are cluttered and messy welcome organizing expert Marie Kondo into their home with mixed emotions. On one hand, they are ready for more simplicity but on the other hand they struggle to let go of the many things that have cluttered their home.

I noticed people were not attached to physical things in their home, but the memories, emotions, and rules they associated with those things. A mailbox reminded one gentlemen of when his family first emigrated. Mothers remembered their babies as they held old baby items. Some held onto clothing they grew out of feeling as if it was accepting their new size.

I wonder if sometimes these cluttered, unorganized homes are just like our minds. Not unlike having too many items in our home, we often clutter our minds with things that are not necessary and have a difficult time letting things go. We hold on to memories, feelings and rules, not realizing how much they are impacting us. When it comes to clothes, if we just keep piling stuff into the closet, eventually it becomes hard to keep the door closed. Things start to spill out even though we keep stuffing them back inside. In our minds, maybe we hold on to a hurt from the past, a memory of something we loved, or thoughts and worry about the future. Although we don’t want get rid of everything, we must learn to let go of the things in our lives and our minds that no longer serve us. Doing so allows us to purposefully choose where to put our time, money and energy so that we can become the person we want to be. So how do we do that?

Be willing to open the closet

Using Marie’s method, the first step is to open up the closet and haul everything out into the open. It is easy to hold onto things without much awareness when our closet is so full. We must be willing to acknowledge everything that we are holding on to. This includes memories, feelings and thoughts.

Be present

Take a moment to sit with each item and pay attention to how it makes you feel. Marie asks people to think about whether or not the item “sparks joy”. If not, it is time to let it go. In our minds this looks a little bit different. We must be willing to sit with the feeling, whether or not it is pleasant. We must learn to acknowledge the feelings before we can let them go. There may be many feelings and memories in your mind that do not “spark joy” so instead you can think about whether it is helpful in becoming the person you want to be. If not, let it go.

Pursue the things that are important to you (and let go of what is not)

Once we have decided whether something is helpful or not, we can begin the work of letting things go. Marie talks about the importance of gratitude and how it assists the process of letting go. I like to think it is the same with our minds. There are some things we need to let go of, but we can acknowledge that they have served some purpose in our lives and give thanks for the lessons we have learned. Once we have done the work of letting go, we create more space for the the things we really care about.

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