Decluttering your life after 50

Posted on: 13 August 2013 by Lynda Shaw

Lynda Shaw asks can we differentiate clutter of the mind from clutter in our working or home environment?

Unclutter your life after 50Why do we hold onto ‘stuff’? What is it about those old clothes we never wear, or the half empty bottles in the bathroom cupboard, or the filing cabinet that’s still got estate agent’s paperwork from two houses ago?

Can we differentiate clutter of the mind from clutter in our working or home environment? In actual fact, they are each a reflection of the other; which means that if our physical environment is a mess, so is our mind.

Clutter is stressful and when things pile up in corners we begin to feel overwhelmed and this exacerbates the stressful feelings.

It is a good idea to reflect on why we allow ‘stuff’ to take over.  Is it because we are too busy to do anything about it?  If this is the case, just do one cupboard or one room a week. Or take a day off just to sort out and make a few visits to the dump.

Coming to terms with an empty nest

Is it because we are feeling insecure and want to hold onto what is no longer of any use? Perhaps this is an attempt to not let go of bygone days. Sometimes as our children grow and leave the nest we enter a phase of denial and we believe that keeping obsolete possessions gives us comfort, when the opposite could be true. This doesn’t have to be drastic; we can keep those special things and make space for those precious visits.

This could also be a sign of resistance to change and fear of the unknown, but what is there to fear really? Circumstances won’t change because we are living in a cluttered environment, this is an illusion so we might as well clear the decks and move forward.

Avoidance is another reason why we may be hoarding. We need to be honest with ourselves and question if we are avoiding big problems by distracting ourselves with small, irritating piles of obsolete things.

Clearing unnecessary thoughts and emotions

How can we notice new opportunities for growth and fun if our lives are full and cluttered? A friend once told me of the bookshelf analogy.  If the bookshelf is full we will have no space for a new book, and if we try to balance it on top the bookshelf may collapse. This is like our minds. Clearing physical items clears the mind of unnecessary thoughts and emotions.

Whether we are feeling stressed, fearful, insecure or avoiding big problems, de-cluttering the house or office will de-clutter the mind, for it is cathartic and therapeutic and our beliefs about life will feel lighter. 

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