By Bridget Baker
In the past few years, we’ve become much more aware of our stuff — or, more specifically, the need to get rid of our stuff by decluttering and letting things go. Concepts like only keeping items that “spark joy,” or the notion that all of your physical possessions should “bring value” in your life, may have you in a frenzy of sorting, purging, and donating. You may think that if you could just pare down your belongings enough, then you’d BE enough.
Well, what if it were never about the stuff? What if I told you that focusing on the physical items in your life only creates more of an obsession with what you have, or a feeling of lack about what you don’t have? What if the biggest way to let it all go would be to let go of the idea that your stuff is any reflection of who you are?
What if the secret to living a more simple, organized, minimalist lifestyle was about focusing on something more important than your physical possessions?
That clutter in your garage does not mean you are disorganized, living in chaos, or a hot mess of a human. It may simply mean that you have gotten busy, that life has happened, and you just haven’t had time to catch up. Life transitions such as having kids, moving, or changing new jobs may leave you with more in your house than you need. Or, perhaps you’re just not ready to let go of some items yet. I’m writing you a permission slip right now to not have to focus on getting organized.
You may think the priority is in getting rid of your physical ephemera, but what if you could go within yourself first? What could you accomplish with an inner decluttering — one that would help you become clear on your priorities, your desires, and your lifestyle? This way, when you go to throw away or donate an item, you will have less of an attachment to it. That item will clearly not fit into the bigger picture of your life, and there will be less of an emotional charge around getting rid of it.
Being able to let go comes from a feeling that you are enough. I am not talking about enough pairs of shoes or enough art on your walls. The kind of enough I’m talking about is a deep inner knowing that, no matter what happens around you, that you are enough by yourself. You do not need anyone or any physical object to make you a better person or to complete you. You are worthy of taking up space, of existing, and of making a difference in the world through the expression of your creativity and vision. You are enough. Period.
We are bombarded with advertisements that leave us feeling incomplete if we don’t purchase the next best thing. Ads are useful when we do have a need for something to purchase, but this can sometimes leave us with a gaping hole that will never be filled by trips to the mall or one-day shipping online orders. What you need to know is that you are complete and perfect, exactly as you are, whether you have that new iPhone, carry that new designer handbag, or are driving that new car.
Inadequacy and fear may have become a default setting for you, but the good news is, you can take the time to go within and start to rebuild your foundation that you are enough exactly as you are. One of the best ways to do this is through the practice of meditation. By taking deep breaths, sitting in silence, and being present in the moment, you will create the space where there is nothing to fix or change, and where you are enough.
Another way to feel enough is through self-care. This will vary by person, but it could mean going for a walk in the woods, taking a hot bath, or even petting your dog. Whatever feels like the best way to give back to yourself and to fill your cup is the action needed to know you are taking the best care of yourself, regardless of what happens in your life outside of you.
When you create this foundation of enough-ness for yourself, you can then take a look at your house or your office and release what no longer fits into that bigger vision of self-care. Whatever is not essential to who you are and whatever you need can fall away, so you can make way for the new dreams and priorities that are now uncovered from going within.
If you declutter without doing the inner work, you may become addicted to or obsessed with looking at your physical items; you may be left feeling empty, your inner world feeling like it has been wiped clean of what you value. The secret ingredient to living a fulfilled life is to value yourself first, and then everything else you acquire beyond that is just icing on the beautiful and brilliant cake that is you.