How many of you are watching Tidying Up With Marie Kondo on Netflix? If my social media feed is any indication - almost all of you are! I read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying of Up by Marie Kondo when it came out and I used her tidying method and, as promised, it sparked joy. More recently, I have spent my downtime alternating between watching her show and giving my home a much needed once over.
Last week I sorted through areas that have wound up cluttered in my home. I sorted through the kitchen cabinets and drawers, the bathroom cabinets and shelves, and the coat closet. I was also decluttering my brain. I believe that a lot of external behaviors, reflect our internal processes. I am not sure which comes first, the internal declutter or the external one, but I find mental clarity when I go through my stuff and get rid of things that no longer serve me. I donate ill-fitting clothes no matter how cute they look on the hanger and never-used kitchen tools that jam the kitchen drawers. I toss notes to myself that mean nothing now along with expired coupons and random receipts. And it feels good.
My adolescent daughter who is coming into her own, and who has her own rich inner world asked why I was getting rid of so much clutter. Her question pulled me out of clutter removing tunnel vision. I rambled on about it being a thing I do sometimes, mentioning a full moon and lunar eclipse which definitely seem to strike her as out of left field. Then finally I mentioned that I feel like it helps me move on from old beliefs and behaviors that don’t serve me anymore. That last bit seemed to land, and I came home to a cleared and tidied coffee table, a repository for my daughter’s clutter. She had tidied her room too.
Meanwhile, I have noticed there is an increased dissonance between the familiar knee-jerk reactions to things my inner voice expresses and how I am actually feeling. For example, it was very cold for the last two days. It was that kind of cold that called for pants under my pants, and socks over those pants, and boots over those socks. Wearing so many layers may have protected me from the 1 degree air whipping skin, but I was very uncomfortable because I felt so restricted by my clothes. The weight of the clothes and the restriction they brought made the boundaries of my body more known to me, a sensation that made me feel very self-conscious. And as I noticed how bad I felt, I experienced an increased sensation of itching, always in places I couldn’t reach because I couldn’t move. I felt limited, and historically when I have felt limited, regardless of why, a voice inside my head spits out the words, “You are fat,” with a vitriol that demonstrates that I have internalized a voice that believes fat is a fate worse than death. It is a voice drips with disgust, disdain, and self-loathing. It has the potential to totally ruin my day and tear me down.
That is an old, old voice. The voice of bullies in school, as well as well-intentioned but misguided adults, that I made my own over time. It does not align with what I believe or value, nor does it reflect how I view the world. It has been over a decade of disagreeing with, but being belittled by this voice. It does not make sense, but it lingers.
And yesterday, like with every time I am uncomfortable, I heard the words “You are fat,” but then I heard myself think, “Well, no I’m not. And so what if I were? So what?” And in that moment yesterday, I got rid of something internal that no longer served me. What once was a story I used to make meaning of my discomfort had become a bully who shut me down time and time again with an ill-conceived argument. This time I challenged it and in doing so tossed it with the notes to self that made no sense anymore.
Are there stories you tell yourself don’t serve you anymore? Responses that are automatic but make you feel miserable? If you are unsure, try going to your junk drawer and taking everything out of it. Look at each item and ask yourself why you have it and do you need it. Make two piles - “keep” and “toss.” Neatly return the “keep” items to the junk drawer. Maybe you will learn something about yourself or maybe you will just have a neater junk drawer. Either way, it is a win.