Marie Kondo is all the rage for a reason. Clearing out feels really good.
But it goes beyond the smug, satisfied feeling of being tidy. Or knowing where everything is. There are some really serious benefits to clearing out. It can help you see where you’re at, surface subconscious beliefs and raise your standards.
Unexpected Advantages of Decluttering
Raise Your Standards
I moved house at the end of last year and did a thorough clear out in the process so you would think I wouldn’t have too much around that I didn’t need or want.
But I’ve been working on getting rid of items that are below par, socks with holes in them, underwear stretched beyond belief. Taking out every item in my wardrobe to make sure I didn’t miss anything, I quickly amassed a bag to donate. It’s not massive amounts but what it represents is huge. I no longer wanted to make do with old, wearing out clothes. I don’t want to hold on to jeans that are slightly too tight just because they’re fabulous (they are, they’re silver). In that half an hour of going through my stuff, I raised the bar on what I’m happy wearing and using.
You can also use what you learn as you declutter to be more discerning about what gets into your life in the first place. Pay attention to what you’re getting rid of. Is it all free stuff you didn’t say no to because of your scarcity mindset? Is it stuff you bought because it would do but you didn’t truly love it? Understanding why you’re getting rid of it helps you establish standards so it doesn’t get in in the first place.
Create Space for New and Better Things
If your life is physically crammed full of stuff how do you figure out what you need? How do you treasure new things if there is nowhere to put them?
There is a mental weight to physical belongings. There’s a reason a cluttered room feels overwhelming. Often when you read or hear about clearing out, this is the benefit that’s focused on, the serenity of an organised space. Which is awesome, but again there’s more to the story. Clearing out creates space for something better.
You clear out all of those old dresses and now you have space for beautiful new ones that feel fabulous to wear. You cleared off shelves of junk so now you have room to start that home library you’ve always wanted.
When your room or house is full, it can place limits on what we do. Mainly because it becomes an easy excuse. There’s no room, I can’t put it anywhere. Even I can’t work out because there’s no clear floor space. Or you don’t want to bring a date home because it doesn’t feel like a nice space to bring someone special.
Your physical space is blocking your dreams and aspirations. You need to ask yourself does my room or house or flat represent the life I want to be leading? Use clearing out to put yourself in the place of where you want to be rather than where you’re currently at. My relationship coach talks about making room in her wardrobe for the clothes of her man – before she even met him (now they’re engaged and have the cutest son!).
Examine Your Mindset
Sorting through our possessions brings up all sorts of emotions. It can be challenging to let go. So we avoid doing it. It’s easier to live in our clutter than face our feelings.
But you can flip it and see it as an opportunity to raise your self-awareness. You can use clearing out as a way to surface limitations. So many of our limiting beliefs are buried in the subconscious. Recognising what’s difficult about clearing out is a way to bring those beliefs into the conscious.
Maybe it’s the attachment you struggle with. Refusing to let go of that worn out, old dress you never wear because it’s your favourite (to the point of being worn out). What is driving the attachment? Are you worried about never finding a dress you love as much again? Do you like the feeling of having lots of things so are attached to even the things you don’t use? What drives those fears?
Maybe you get a case of the just-in-cases or the maybe-one-days. What fear is causing you hold on to all of those things? Do you really need an overflowing machine cabinet filled with every unfinished prescription you’ve ever had? Do all of your notes and textbooks from school or university really serve a purpose now? (I can tell you, you will never refer back to them because Googling it is so much easier so you don’t have a practical leg to stand on).
Identify the emotion that comes up. Question it. Examine it. Ask why, why, why again. Sometimes it will be easy. As soon as you look at yourself, you’ll almost laugh at how silly you’re being and let it go. Other times you’ll be facing some big, deep-seated beliefs. When that happens, take it slow and be kind. You don’t have to get rid of everything today. Or maybe ever. You are still allowed to have belongings that you adore!
Some Clearing Out Tips
- Keep it small. Twenty items. One bag of donations. One cupboard or shelf. Especially if this is an emotional process, you’re going to have a lot to mentally process so don’t overwhelm yourself.
- Small, frequent, consistent is best. Each time you go through your possessions, you raise your standards, get to understand where you’re at better. You may think you’ve gotten rid of everything possible but three months later, you’ll be surprised what you find.
- Do your action items straight away. Drycleaning, repairs, donations, taking the rubbish out. Don’t transfer the clutter into your to-do list. If you’ve kept it small (point one), you’ll only have a couple of tasks to tackle, so get them done!
Clearing Out Goes Beyond Getting Organised
There is so much more to a clear out than finding everything a home (although I strongly advocate for that habit too!). Being highly curated in what you let into your life makes a statement about who you are, what you stand for and what kind of life you want to lead.
What does your space say about you?