A Less Cluttered Life

junk drawer
junk drawer (Photo credit: Robert Couse-Baker)

The junk drawer in my kitchen is about to explode.  I’m guessing we all have a junk drawer (or two in our homes). Mine is a big 48″ wide number that we upgraded to when we renovated our kitchen a few years ago. It seemed like a good idea at the time; a wider drawer that ran the width of the double cabinet beneath so that I could more easily organize and find the contents within. Yeah, right. It’s just more space to shove stuff I don’t know where else to put.

Unfortunately, it isn’t just the drawer in my kitchen that needs a little “de-cluttering” today. I have a nine-year-old who, I truly believe, is part squirrel. She has a tendency to hide things in her nest and save them for later; later never comes.

Her bedroom is a myriad of “collections” of things she has hung onto seemingly since birth: stuffed animals, junk prizes and toys from kids’ meals, mountains of rainy day crafts and artwork, treasures galore! I have boxes in the attic of things I have saved for her that I doubt she will even want and as she gets older, my desire to save is growing less and less. The clutter it all creates is driving me mad.

Clutter in our life – whether it comes from unnecessary things, past hurts, toxic friendships, etc., – are unnecessary burdens that will slow us down in 2013. I don’t know about you, but for me, it is time to make a conscious effort to clean it up! Don the rubber gloves, the protective eyewear, grab a big old garbage bag and start tossing!

“Life is simplified when there is one center; one reason, one motivation, one direction and purpose.”   Jean Fleming

So, how do you go about the process of decluttering your life? Quite honestly, the drawer is easy. It just takes starts with a serious commitment to do it, an honest effort and acceptance that you didn’t accumulate all that clutter in one day, so you aren’t going to get rid of it in a day either! Any good organization website or book will tell you there are some simple rules to follow and suggest the basic rules of the four boxes:  keep, toss, fix, give away. A simple and easy approach can be found at the idiotsguides.com website.

But the bigger challenges we all face are the emotional and personal clutter we’ve assembled in our lives. It’s a little more difficult to toss, fix or give away the emotional baggage and toxic relationships that clutter our thinking and weigh us down. Hurt is hard to pack up in a box and set on the curb. You can, however, take ownership of the people, relationships and emotions that you allow to rule and clutter your thinking.  After all, rude people, lousy bosses, indifferent spouses and ten-year-old anger have no more of a room in our lives than wornout shoes and a drawer full of Tupperware with missing lids.

201003-omag-clutter-boxes-300x205Unpacking emotional baggage isn’t easy work and it sure isn’t for sissies. There’s a whole cottage industry of folks peddling advice – good and bad – and millions of dollars being made on the backs of a world of hurting hearts looking for answers. I’m no psychologist so I won’t begin to suggest I have the solutions for you here, but I can offer this from my own experiences and encouragement for you to tell you it is all worth the work:

1.  We all have blind spots when it comes to the baggage we carry. We need to look at the anger, hurt, distrust and frustrations we feel with complete honesty. And dang, that’s hard, gut-wrenching work!  Do it anyway!

2.  Finger-pointing and blame doesn’t work. If you want to unload the Samsonites, then unload them. You’ll never get the crap unpacked if all you want to do is shift the responsibility for what’s inside to your parents, your spouse, or your dead Uncle who mistreated you 20 years ago. The past is the past. Just unpack the crap and move on!

3.  Forgive. There’s a whole huge uncluttered life waiting for you out there. The freedom you can have by just forgiving and moving forward is so powerful. Yes, you were hurt and it was real, but by not forgiving you are the one clinging to the pain. The hurt being inflicted now is coming from you not extending forgiveness. Tough stuff, but that’s the way it is. And yes, you might have to forgive yourself, too. Do it!

An uncluttered life is a life of freedom. It is a way to rid yourself of the excess that weighs down your life, your thinking, your ability to be the absolute best person you were meant to be.

So, here’s to you, in 2013, making the effort to eliminate the clutter in your life and moving closer to the self you are destined to become!

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