A while ago I wrote a blog about my experiment-in-progress at ‘Konmari’-ing my home (or KM for short). KM is a method of tidying devised by Japanese author and de-cluttering expert Marie Kondo. The basic premise is to:
- Focus on discarding items before you try and tidy them up
- Tackle your belongings in categories, starting with clothes; then shoes, books, toiletries, papers etc (always leaving sentimental items till last)
- Keep only things that spark joy for you – don’t hang on to stuff just ‘because’
- Do it quickly, and all in one go – anything from 2 weeks to 6 months is recommended as a timescale
KM is a fairly extreme approach, and not for everyone, but those who have got into it seem to LOVE it – me included. I’ve nearly finished, and it’s really changed my view of ownership, consumerism and just my life in general.
Does that sound extreme? Maybe, but I’ve genuinely found this to be a massive eye-opener. Why?
Because de-cluttering is the best metaphor ever.
It’s helping me to see the parallels between thoughts and things.
The law of attraction says that what we have around us in our physical environment now, is the sum of our thoughts and intentions up until this point. Its the physical manifestation of the life I led in my head. My house, my partner, my baby, my business. I wanted ALL of that, and made decisions and took actions to be here, now, with them.
All the stuff I live with too, is a reflection of my life. It makes sense that we end up with shit we don’t need – stuff other people offloaded onto us, or gave us in the most well-meaning way. The unwanted freebies and gifts I’m clearing out are going, and along with them I’m seeing I get to pick what I keep and what I choose to let go of – just as I can with the limiting beliefs and ‘shoulds’ that are planted by listening too much to others, and not enough to ourselves and our gut feelings.
Rubbish and ‘stuff’ that we just live with because its there, is like mental noise disturbing our focus. Once cleared, we can see what we really like and don’t like, and be more selective in how we spend our time and who we spend it with.
I’d been hanging on to so much – keeping an archive of my existence, as if somehow hanging on to it made it matter. The Museum of Me! I saw this clip of Denzel Washington speaking the other day, where he said “you never see a U-Haul behind a hearse” – point being, we don’t take it with us when we go. So why live with it now if we don’t really enjoy it, use it or need it?!
I’ve come to realise it really doesn’t matter, actually. The stuff is not what’s important.
The stuff is just a symptom, evidence if you like, of a version of me. A version that doesn’t exist any more, because I choose who I am now, and who I will be in the future. I am not my past; it does not define me.
I can choose to believe that I am shy, or unattractive, or difficult. And live that persona. Or I can let go of that identity and choose something else. Something that serves me better. I might choose to be powerful, or determined, or perhaps I’m kick-ass now. The point is WE get to pick.
The more shit I get rid of, the easier it is to see the difference between things I DO want, and things I DON’T want. I worked with a coach recently who loves the saying ‘if it’s not a hell yeah, it’s a hell no’, and I don’t want anything left in my life that I just feel ambivalent about. Life’s too short to settle for ‘meh’.
I’ll be honest, my KM ‘journey’ has taken a couple of goes, if not three or even four attempts at some things. My wardrobe for instance, I’ve revisited 3 times now and I still have a handful of things I know can and should really go, and will do before I’m done. It’s weird how sentimental I am about some things, but then the relief at finally letting go is palpable. I’ve not regretted a single item I’ve chucked, because if I can still remember them, they still exist really. Just in my head, rather then buried in a bottom drawer I’ll never open anyway.
But after a year I’m finally starting to get to the light at the end of the tunnel and see how my life could be. Not minimalist. But deliberate. Chosen. Selected. BY ME. My home is slowly, but surely, becoming clean, clear and FREE of other people’s crap. Exactly how I want my mind to be.
I’m not intent on achieving some zero-object-owned nirvana where I exist with only a toothbrush and a spare pair of pants.
Far from it; I love my home comforts, art, photographs, beautiful things and plenty of eccentric sofa cushions that somehow make their way back from Ikea trips. But the point is I want them to be my home comforts, that truly bring me joy and happiness. Not just have them in my life because they landed there and I couldn’t be bothered and didn’t care about my environment enough to get rid of them.
So my Konmari experiment is nearly at an end, and feels like it has marked a truly new beginning. It’s actually made me treasure what I do have, I’ve developed a better instinct for what I like and I recognise now what I really want way more easily. I feel like I’d lost myself a bit, as many women do after having a baby, and in getting rid of my crap I’ve found out more about me instead. That was totally unexpected, but feels so, so good.