XXIX – Living with the “Enemy”

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So!! Your mind is set on living a simpler life, one with less physical and mental clutter. Your mind is set on minimising your closet, getting rid of all that stuff in your attic and garage, of having less concerns in the back of your head and taking back the time that’s being stolen from you.

Good on you, you’re definitely on the right track to living more purposefully.

But (and there’s always one), you just can’t start decluttering because of your partner, your husband, your girlfriend, your kids, your parents, your cat. It’s impossible because of THEM and that’s why you don’t do it.

I call it excusal bullshit. If the will to simplify is really there, then you’re not doing it only because of you. YOU are the sole responsible, YOU ALONE.

You will surely want to change the mindset of the people beside you. The best way to achieve this is to lead by example. Before trying to change others you need to make the change for yourself.

 

How to get started?

Don’t play the ‘blame game’ on all those trinkets around the house, nor impose the need to declutter on the other, but rather show its benefits by doing it yourself. Start with your stuff (don’t you dare decluttering the other’s, that road leads only to divorce) and he/she will notice the difference in you very soon.

Ask ‘let go’ questions on each personal item: Do I use this? Do I need it? Can it be easily replaced in case I might ever need it? When was the last time I used/needed it? Does it bring me any joy?

Start with the stuff you feel less sensitive/sentimental about. In my case this meant the closet. Donate, sell or throw away all the clothes, accessories and shoes you don’t use (I bet you have stuff in your closet that you haven’t worn in years). Get all of your stuff out of the closet until it is empty… admire and bask in the joy of its bareness. Put back only the stuff that you know you will use. Your loved one will notice the difference, but most importantly… you will and that feeling will transpire.

Go to the garage. Do you really need 6 camping chairs when there’s only 4 of you? When was the last time you went camping anyway? Do you really use all those tools, or are they there just in case you might need them? What about those materials for all those projects started ages ago, but that you never got the chance to finish?

Are you really ever going to read all those books again? What about those 600 DVDs? If you have one bed, why do you keep 5 sets of sheets? 4 people living under your roof but you keep 15 bath towels? 5 shower mats?

Kitchen. Why do you need 4 frying pans? What about that popcorn machine that you used twice? Do you need 20 plates and 150 cutlery items? 6 wooden spoons? What does that thing in the bottom drawer do anyway? When was the last time you used any of this stuff?

From daily experience, walking into a kitchen with a bench holding only three items (kettle, coffee machine and fruit bowl) is liberating instead of overwhelming as it used to be. Truth is, I didn’t know why I felt so overwhelmed until I simplified this space.

Taking before/after pictures is also a great away to realise how far you’ve gone.

 

‘Joint Items’

I understand that many kitchen, garage and living room items are mostly ‘joint items’ and not so easily decluttered without the endorsement from the other. One thing that can be tried though (and it carries its level of risk), is to remove and hide the ‘joint items’ that did not have a satisfactory performance with regards to the ‘let go’ questions and wait to see how long the other takes to notice.

One would be surprised with the results. Cat tried this experiment on me and it took me months to realise (she actually told me without me having noticed anything) that, all those ‘indispensable’ items were gone.

 

Lock the Door

Make sure to keep the door closed to stuff coming in. Once the space is empty, resist the urge of filling it back again. Keep asking and honestly answering ‘let go’ questions to anything you want to bring in to your life.

I can give the example of a friend who was addicted to buying stuff on eBay. He started asking ‘let go’ questions to every single item he ‘needed’ and reduced his impulse buying to zero. Within a couple of months he was reporting the difference in his bank account. To me, that difference is freedom to make “riskier” life choices. Implement the 30 day waiting list.

 

I assure you that taking care of your side of the fence will lead to the other doing the same because your grass will definitely be greener and something worth emulating. Little by little you’ll be walking even closer, asking each other ‘let go’ questions with regards to ‘joint items’.

One needs only to start decluttering individually and the effects will soon become obvious to those most close to oneself. Granted, only if there is the need to change will change ever take place, but if there’s no need to change, then there’s no need for excuses.

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