After over 12 years of working with people and their clutter, I have seen one common element - a lack of forgiveness - forgiveness of others and most importantly, forgiveness of self. Lack of forgiveness keeps us stuck in old thought and behavior patterns and consequently prevents us from letting go of the related belongings.
Whether through a lifetime of accumulation or a short-term change of lifestyle, people arrive at their clutter due to many circumstances. One person feels the effects of clutter when a spouse dies and suddenly, there's too much stuff to deal with. Another is overwhelmed by their children's overstuffed toy bins. A seemingly "organized" person can overbook themselves and experience a cluttered calendar. Each person and situation is unique.
Clutter-free living requires you to tell yourself the unvarnished truth. Who do you need to forgive? Forgiving doesn't mean you condone a particular behavior, it just means you are ready to set yourself free from the result of that behavior.
If you felt deprived as a child, forgive your parents for their inability to provide for your needs. No amount of buying excess stuff now can fix what occurred long ago. Forgive yourself for trying to fill an emotional hole with physical belongings and see your belongings as the inanimate objects they are.
Forgive your spouse for dying. Keeping the belongings of the deceased won't bring him or her back. You're still here, so how are you going to live the next chapter of your life - one that doesn't include the deceased person? What stuff do you honestly need to live this exciting new chapter to its fullest? If you had died, would you want your surviving spouse to save all of your stuff and stay stuck in the past? Hopefully not!
Forgive yourself for attaching your self-worth to what you own. We're constantly bombarded by marketing that tells us we're only as valuable as our next new purchase, whether it's the latest phone, car, house, or pair of shoes. See that for what it is - an insidious lie designed to fatten someone else's bank account while it drains yours. Forgive others for getting sucked into the hype and free yourself from this line of thinking. Your belongings are meant to serve you, not define you or enslave you. The truth is that you are sacred and priceless, regardless of what you own.
Forgive yourself for your mistakes. If you bought things for your fantasy body or your fantasy life, tell the truth, learn from your mistakes and let the items go. We all make mistakes, it's part of living.
If you've committed to doing more than is humanly possible and now you're feeling crabby and stressed out about it, forgive yourself and cancel something. You're only one person with the same 24-hour day as everyone else on the planet. Forgive others for being momentarily upset or disappointed. They will eventually be glad to be around the happier version of you, once you're giving yourself a more realistic schedule!
Forgive the world for changing faster than you prefer. Forgive yourself for not keeping up.
Forgive your parents for what they taught you or failed to teach you. You're an adult now and can choose your own beliefs and actions.
Forgive your friends for giving you presents you neither need nor want. Forgive yourself for making emotional attachments to stuff. If you don't love it, let it go.
Forgive yourself and everyone around you for not being perfect. No one is!
If you bought more than you can manage and keep track of, take a good long look at your shopping habits. Forgive yourself and set upon a new course. Take a new road on your journey of life and practice new habits, with less cluttered results.
Forgive others and yourself for being stuck in old ways of thinking and behaving. You can't change others, but you can be a shining example for the positive benefits of change. Be brave, be the first!
Don't waste another minute of your life regretting the past or ruminating about it. You can't change the past. You CAN change your mind, you can choose to forgive, and you can move forward with a loving heart and a lot less stuff. Begin today!
"It is important that we forgive ourselves for making mistakes. We need to learn from our errors and move on." Dr. Steve Maraboli