This past week has been one of challenges, mostly having to do with work. I keep reminding myself how fortunate I am to have a job. For the most part, I like my job. The challenge for me comes in how to remain fresh, compassionate, and positive. I believe the answer to that challenge comes in the form of good self-care. One of my coping strategies to use when life becomes overwhelming is simplifying other things in my life, taking things down a few notches so I’m attending only to the basics. For me that means getting enough rest, eating well, exercising, and de-cluttering.
When I hear the word de-cluttering I first think about my environment. After spending 20 years with a man who enjoyed saving and collecting everything, I feel a strong need to keep my possessions to a minimum. During that relationship, I learned when you have many possessions, they begin to own you by requiring more mental and physical energy output. Keeping clutter out of my house helps me to feel more relaxed. My rule is to only keep things I use on a regular basis, and not to purchase things unless I really need them. That is easier said than done given all the marketing and commercialism out there. It is difficult not to want all those wonderful products being sold in stores and on the internet. I struggle with being an impulse buyer. I’ll see something, want it, and then rationalize why I should have it right now. Buying like that causes me to occasionally become overburdened with things I don’t really need and also adds financial stress from not living within my means. My sage mother once told me that she always waits 48 hours before making a purchase. This is to keep impulse out of the picture. I now try to do that and it really works well. I find that while waiting the 48 hours, I see that I really don’t need or want the item after all. Still, clutter finds its way to me, so I’ll occasionally go through a section of my house and weed out all the things I don’t need or want. If I attend to this on a regular basis, it is easier to maintain a clean and pleasant living environment.
So, that’s the physical clutter, but what about the emotional stuff? Things like food cravings, negatively-based definitions of your self (psychic tattoos*), guilt and worry, biases, and worn out relationships can all add complication to your life. When allowed to build up and take over, they become emotional clutter. Just like with the physical clutter, all these emotions will begin to own you. You are then no longer in control of your life, your clutter is in charge. Sometimes the physical and emotional clutter become intertwined and it becomes difficult to separate one from the other. All those possessions that contain memories of the past may only serve to keep you stuck there. Imagine the freedom you could feel from letting go of both.
This reminds me of the Buddhist saying that attachments equal suffering. Think about it. Attachments can be formed to anything, either physical or emotional. When we become attached to something, we begin to suffer. We suffer when we lose it or when we perceive that we have lost it. We suffer when we have too much of it because it takes control of our lives. We suffer because we cannot let go of something. I remember thinking about this one day and looked at all the examples of things to which I had become attached. When I thought of what would happen if I didn’t have them, I felt the suffering. Even the thought of the loss caused the suffering. It was then that I began to look at releasing attachments in my life. Now, when I find myself feeling too attached to something, I find a way to let it go. During this week, I intend to find ways in which I can feel safe, fulfilled, and balanced by looking at my current emotional attachments and then work on letting them go. I want to get down to the basics so that I can feel some peace of mind. Eventually, I will come to a place where I am ready, once again, to move forward. I will have the energy I need to pursue my creative interests, engage with life outside myself, and give something back to the world.
Think about your life and to what you feel attached? How does this affect you? Is it something you can let go of in order to bring some simplicity to your life? What will it take for you to reduce the clutter and get back to basics?
Yours in transformation,
* I found the term “psychic tattoo” in the book, A Master Class in Gremlin-Taming, by Rick Carson and I really like using it. It is a great visual for me.