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Further thoughts on “Cleaning House”

For every piece of clutter that has piled up because we’ve been too busy or too distracted to deal with it, there’s probably at least one piece that you have avoided dealing with for emotional reasons. The underlying problem is not procrastination; it’s that dealing with clutter means dealing with our own difficult emotions:

  • Getting rid of clothes we’ll never fit into again means accepting our current shape and level (or lack) of fitness.
  • Getting rid of an expensive item we never use means admitting that we made a poor decision when we bought it.
  • Getting rid of books and magazines we don’t have time to read means accepting that we will never have enough time or attention to explore every topic that’s of interest to us.
  • Getting rid of possessions remaining after a loved one has died means coming to terms with our loss and grief.

Acknowledge to yourself that clearing out your clutter will involve some emotional risk. Start by exploring why keeping certain kinds of clutter feels comforting to you. For example:

  • If you grew up with very frugal parents who taught you not to be wasteful, getting rid of items that are still useful may trigger feelings of guilt. (This is very common among the “Baby Boomer” generation, whose parents may have experienced hardship and deprivation during the Great Depression and/or World War II years.)
  • If you grew up poor and hungry, surrounding yourself with material goods may feel reassuring that you will always have enough.
  • If you suffer from low self-esteem or come from an abusive environment, you may unconsciously feel that you don’t deserve beautiful surroundings, or that you will be punished for trying to create them for yourself.
  • If you have experienced a difficult loss through the death of a loved one or the end of a marriage, getting rid of that person’s things can feel like a betrayal of your love.
  • If you have an attic or basement full of supplies for a hobby you hoped would become a career, clearing it out may feel like giving up on your dreams, or it may force a confrontation with the fact that you are getting older.
  • If you lack confidence in pursuing a long-held dream, keeping your clutter can keep you from having to go out and actually do it.

Healing and growth come from recognizing your feelings, no matter what they are. If your enthusiasm for clutter clearing suddenly turns into feelings of anger, resentment at the task itself, or a vague sense of anxiety, that’s a sign to pause and reflect on what deeper feelings are being triggered.

Many of our reasons for hanging on to clutter are, at their core, about fear: fear that we won’t be equal to the challenges of the future, and fear of confronting our regrets about the past. Clutter can be comforting; it acts as a buffer between us and reality.

Here are some points to help you maintain a perspective of clarity as you work on your clutter:

  • Living clutter-free does not mean living in a sterile environment; it means getting rid of the excess so that everything around you is there for a reason.
  • The past is over and the future isn’t here yet. Confronting the emotions raised by clutter will make living in the present less threatening.
  • In the course of clutter clearing, you may get rid of something that you later wish you’d kept. Emotionally healthy people do feel regret; but then they let it go, trusting that an equal or better item will be available if they need it.
  • Letting go of regrets about your present clutter will help free you from the fear of regret that drives the accumulation of future clutter
  • People who are able to live without clutter trust themselves to make good choices. As you become more conscious of what you allow into and keep in your home, you will develop a higher level of trust your own decisions.
  • Hoarding against an uncertain future reveals a lack of faith in the ability of the Universe to provide what you need at the time you need it. The antidote is to focus on gratitude for all that you now have, and for all the ways in which you are already being provided for.

If difficult feelings come up for you as you work through your clutter, acknowledge them. You may discover that you just aren’t ready to confront some tasks or part with some things yet. It is self-defeating to push yourself all at once through changes that are too large for you today. Be gentle with yourself, take baby steps, and work at your own pace.

Remember that the space you create by releasing clutter will allow all kinds of gifts to flow into your life, on the physical, spiritual, and emotional levels. Letting go of excess makes room for blessings.

Excerpted from “Clutter-Free Forever!” Lotus Pond Press, 2003]

 

When it comes to life, there is no escaping color. It is ubiquitous. Yet what does it all mean? Why are people more relaxed in green rooms? Why do weightlifters do their best in blue gyms?  I’d be most happy to help you choose a color for your “oasis”… your area that you work and feel focused in.

 

Colors often have different meanings in various cultures. And even in Western societies, the meanings of various colors have changed over the years. But today in the U.S., researchers have generally found the following to be accurate.

 

 

Black

Black is the color of authority and power. It is popular in fashion because it makes people appear thinner. It is also stylish and timeless. Black also implies submission. Priests wear black to signify submission to God. Some fashion experts say a woman wearing black implies submission to men. Black outfits can also be overpowering, or make the wearer seem aloof or evil. Villains, such as Dracula, often wear black.

 White

Brides wear white to symbolize innocence and purity. White reflects light and is considered a summer color. White is popular in decorating and in fashion because it is light, neutral, and goes with everything. However, white shows dirt and is therefore more difficult to keep clean than other colors. Doctors and nurses wear white to imply sterility.

 Red

The most emotionally intense color, red stimulates a faster heartbeat and breathing. It is also the color of love. Red clothing gets noticed and makes the wearer appear heavier. Since it is an extreme color, red clothing might not help people in negotiations or confrontations. Red cars are popular targets for thieves. In decorating, red is usually used as an accent. Decorators say that red furniture should be perfect since it will attract attention.

The most romantic color, pink, is more tranquilizing. Sports teams sometimes paint the locker rooms used by opposing teams bright pink so their opponents will lose energy.

 Blue

The color of the sky and the ocean, blue is one of the most popular colors. It causes the opposite reaction as red. Peaceful, tranquil blue causes the body to produce calming chemicals, so it is often used in bedrooms. Blue can also be cold and depressing. Fashion consultants recommend wearing blue to job interviews because it symbolizes loyalty. People are more productive in blue rooms. Studies show weightlifters are able to handle heavier weights in blue gyms.

Green

Currently the most popular decorating color, green symbolizes nature. It is the easiest color on the eye and can improve vision. It is a calming, refreshing color. People waiting to appear on TV sit in “green rooms” to relax. Hospitals often use green because it relaxes patients. Brides in the Middle Ages wore green to symbolize fertility. Dark green is masculine, conservative, and implies wealth. However, seamstresses often refuse to use green thread on the eve of a fashion show for fear it will bring bad luck.

Yellow

Cheerful sunny yellow is an attention getter. While it is considered an optimistic color, people lose their tempers more often in yellow rooms, and babies will cry more. It is the most difficult color for the eye to take in, so it can be overpowering if overused. Yellow enhances concentration, hence its use for legal pads. It also speeds metabolism.

Purple

The color of royalty, purple connotes luxury, wealth, and sophistication. It is also feminine and romantic. However, because it is rare in nature, purple can appear artificial.

Brown

Solid, reliable brown is the color of earth and is abundant in nature. Light brown implies genuineness while dark brown is similar to wood or leather. Brown can also be sad and wistful. Men are more apt to say brown is one of their favorite colors.

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