At the time I’m writing this, my husband and I are in the middle of tidying The Great Clutter Frontier – our garage. The house is neat and in order. (Well, at least the spaces over which I have control.) I have thrown away innumerable bags of garbage and donated countless items (7 bags of clothing, purses, etc. alone). And remember, our house wasn’t unusually junky to begin with. I knew we had some clutter here and there, but I really didn’t expect the amount and the change to be so dramatic. I cannot adequately describe to you how much confidence this process has given me. I no longer feel out of control and overwhelmed. Instead, I feel competent and in control – not only of my house but of my life.
[Side note: do NOT start this process with the garage (or attic or whatever area is The Place Where Things Go To Be Forgotten in your house). This is the major league for tidying. You need to be trained through the other stages first. I don’t mean that to sound condescending or anything. It’s just the truth.]
Here are just a few of the mental/emotional changes that I’ve experienced:
- I’ve become a bit addicted to “white space.” I LOVE that I can see at least half of the back wall of my closet. In fact, I’ve gotten rid of more stuff from in there since I originally went through my clothes. It’s such a great feeling!
- My approach to shopping has changed. Stuff now has to earn the right to enter my house. If I don’t know exactly where I’ll put it, if it doesn’t serve a definite purpose, if it doesn’t make me feel better about myself to wear it, if it doesn’t SPARK JOY, I don’t want it in my house, no matter how cute it looks in the store. (Now, this doesn’t mean I’m not buying anything at all. In fact, I have bought some new items to replace old items. Some of those old items (like measuring cups and pot holders) still worked fine, but they were just dull and blah. Spending a few bucks on some brightly-colored ones was absolutely the right choice for me.)
- It gets progressively easier to part with things. I just got rid of some items in the garage that would have been completely unthinkable and non-negotiable a few weeks ago. I’m learning that just because I loved something then doesn’t mean that I automatically love it now, and I’m living today, not yesterday.
- As I mentioned above, the biggest change is how much more in-control I feel. When I look around my house, I see a true reflection of myself and my family. I don’t feel like a domestic failure anymore.
And by the way, these mental and emotional changes have had physical effects, as well:
While I began the weight loss process a couple of months before I began the tidying process, and while losing weight will take longer to complete, they’ve really become intertwined. Feeling more in control in one area leads to feeling more in control in the other area. Today, I was spending time with my parents and children and we visited a local bakery TWICE. I had a couple of bites of others’ items, but I didn’t order anything for myself, and I genuinely didn’t want anything else. Previously, I would have truly and literally felt powerless to resist. We also visited lots of shops with incredibly cute clothes and home decor items, but again, the degree of temptation was low. Right now, the amount of stuff in my house feels just right. Why would I want to add more?
So tidying my house – discarding things and deciding where to put the things I keep – has not only changed my physical landscape but also my mental and emotional health. Believe it or not, I’m seeing spiritual growth as well. To be continued…