lunedì 30 settembre 2013

Physical and Mental Decluttering

A couple of years ago I started having periods of frantic decluttering activity, that is of clearing of my physical and mental space.

Getting rid of useless objects, unloved ones, unused, that clutter our physical space, hindering us from moving freely as we'd love, from cleaning our rooms easily, from seeing a house that is at least partially orderly, but, above all, create confusion in our mental space.

Everybody possesses objects with a history, but if that history is not a loved one, they carry with them only unhappiness.
Some objects are there only to become dusty, they make our life miserable, they must be dusted, moved around, we never use them....and as a consequence they make us nervous and tired because of all the (useless) effort they request us.

Some objects we may have kept because "Sooner or later I'll manage to get into that pair of jeans again!", forgetting that not only they'll be outdated by that time, and who cares, but very probably we won't like them anymore, or weìll have changed so much in character and shape that we won't be able to use them anyway.

Well, sometime I become mad at all this and I begin piling up things to eliminate. It's cathartic and makes me feel so free when the piles reach their final destination: I feel lighter, mentally and physically, more serene, above all.

Eliniating, to me, means making three main piles:
  1. Things that can be given to somebody else because they're still in very good shape and can be reused, somebody whom we know will be willing to accept those things and will need and use them;
  2. Things that only need be thrown away;
  3. things that can be sold for a small amount of money, always useful.
The piles will have a predetermined destination:

  1. as for things to be given away: friends, relatives, schools, libraries,  charities that could need and/or appreciate them;
  2. the second pile will go to the so-called "ecological platform" where they take separated things according to their nature and recycling destination;
  3. second hand shops for the third pile.
The feeling of freedom once the piles reach their destination is enormous, even if in some cases it's difficult to decide to get rid of a particular object, of a book, of a newborn tiny piece of clothing. But we can't accumulate everything in life and mustn't! Otherwise confusion, and not only physical, but also mental, will be total.

Today the decluttering theme came back to my mind reading this post by Claudia, and I really find myself in Enrico's, the psychologist, answer, therefore I commented:

I have two children who are now a bit older, they aren't toddlers anymore, and from time to time I make a selection among their toys (clothing goes to younger cousins when in good shape and small for my children): toys that are still in great conditions go to younger cousins, or to schools they attend/attended, or to children's second hand shops (and in this case, let's admit it, earning a little bit of money is pleasant and useful). I introduced a couple of years ago a rule: for every single new thing coming home, two must go, and this is valid also for toys. We've adopted also a second rule: only one present for each kid in occasions like their birthdays and Christmas from the many uncles and aunts, who must agree among themselves, so as not to have too many presents: it's a waste, a useless waste: toys that occupy space and are never used, a well chosen unique one is much better.
I began two seasons ago the job that Enrico indicated regarding my wardrobe:  I still have to work on becoming pitiless, but I made some progress...[here I can add: and soon the time for the seasonal change in our wardrobes will arrive and with it the selection in clothing: things that have become too small or too outworn or presumably will be too small next spring for children and things to preserve in boxes; and among autumn/winter clothing, things that have become too small; as for me, well, the selection of things I know I'll never wear again among the spring/summer ones and also among those I'll take out of winter boxes...those
Now it's time to start with my desk: with books I still can't do it, I do it only with children's books that have become obsolete because of children's age and they find a new home in tiny hands that will appreciate them, nut with my books I still haven't found the courage to do it.
 A rule I added, compared with those indicated by Enrico (thanks! and thanks to Claudia for having introduced him to us) is to ask myself a series of questions before I buy anything new:
  1. Is it really necessary?
  2. Do we have anything else that can perform the same service?
  3. How often will we use it?
  4. Do we have a place to store it or are we ready to eliminate something to make space for i
And then I postpone the purchase. I postpone it because sometimes buying things impulsively or just because we like them, pushes us towards buying things that are unnecessary, superfluous, and just a little later we regret the purchase.
If the desire and the will to buy it remains, then maybe the questions above have found the right answer.
OK, once I finish my university exam, I'll start with my desk....
There are may questions one can ask to go beyond feelings we may have towards all those things we seem to want to keep: we must put ourselves in the position of somebody who's going to move and must take decisions:
  1. Is this object so important to me that I would pay somebody to move it?
  2. how much would it cost in terms of money and time buying it again?
  3. when did I use it the last time?
  4. how many times o I use it? every week? once a month? once a year? never?
  5. may I preserve this object in a manner that is different from the physical one? (e.g. digital)
  6. does it help me in creating an environment that is positive for reaching my goals?
  7. does it make me feel positive or negative?
Once you answer all of these questions and respecting the rules I gave our household, I take a decision!
Right now, we've spent some time selecting toy cars with my children, eliminating toys they don't use (e.g. the kitchen and it's components, since they prefer cooking real things with me rather than pkaying with fake eggs and so on) and in this way we got two large drawers free for my yonger son's clothing and 4 smaller drawers for the spare writing books, pens, pencils, etc.
Soon, as I mentioned above, it'll be time for clothing and my desk!

Happy decluttering everybody!

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