As I touched on in The End of the Person, it’s fascinating where we store our holdings. The boundaries between ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ are an artificial creation of the identity. When that passes, we can see that we store “knots of stress” or grippings of resistance not only in our body but in our environment.
A big sign of that is clutter. People sometimes use stuff to store their unresolved drama and thus inner clutter is expressed around them. Pay attention to how you respond to others clutter. Do you react to the clutter or to it’s emotional message? Does it scare you? Are you judging them and if so, why? What is arising in you? Some people simply don’t care about stuff, others leave a trail of chaos.
It’s a little subtle, but these hints of our relationship with things around us are good clues. While it may not be necessary to purge them, it can be good to look and perhaps change how we “hold” them.
We have stuff for a variety of reasons:
– utilitarian – we need a toothbrush and a bed
– pleasure – we enjoy wearing a certain outfit or snuggling under a down comforter
– keepsake – some objects remind us of people or pleasure
– holding – this is the stuff we keep out of quiet fear
Some of these items may be blended for any given object, like a favorite toothbrush. It is of course the last where there is our unresolved junk. The stuff that grips us. We might find them as ‘should’s’ or ‘what if’s’ or ‘if only’. This can be why cleaning out can be challenging. It may even seem overwhelming. But if you make a list of steps – the buffet, the bedroom closet, etc., then work through them bit by bit, not only will your physical load lighten but your emotional load will too.
Spring cleaning can be a deeply spiritual process. When you step through your stuff, watch your reactions. Clutter busters suggest if you have not used something in a year, it’s time for it to go. Watch how you react when you see it’s been 3 years since you bought those unused snowshoes. Regret? What’s under that? Does this represent something? Something you enjoyed with someone who’s no longer in your life? Is that still holding you?
For me, there has been a couple of rounds of this over several years. The internal emptying out has been reflected externally as well. Amongst the hardest (that took the longest to see) have been things my children have outgrown. Or that represent what I used to be. Pieces of identity falling away with changing age have left their grip in possessions. A classic for many is clothes that no longer fit. If you’re on a weight loss program and it’s working, perhaps this makes sense. Otherwise, how long has it been since they fit? Are we having trouble with what is? With acceptance?
I’m a great example as I have a wide range of interests, most of which tend to accumulate ‘stuff’. Are they still active interests or a past phase now? How do you feel about leaving them in the past?
Keepsake is fine, but is your house full of the past or does it represent your present? Are you constantly reminding yourself of what is no longer, of what you’ve lost? Does your decor celebrate your life or your past? Or is your home full of plans, of if onlys, of when I get to it’s? ‘One Day’ can fill your life with stuff and leave it a never ending obligation to past ideas about a future you once wanted. A “Job Jar” of illusion. Does it serve you now?
Think about what you love, now. Make a short list of what’s most important for you. Who and What you want to give your time and attention to. If your stuff doesn’t serve that short list, it’s time to pass it on. Time to lighten your load of obligation. Your stuff should support your loves or it doesn’t belong.
Time for a clutter busting, a spring cleaning, a purge. It’s amazing how refreshing that is, lightening the outer lightens the inner. And that allows your happiness-without-reason to shine through.