Sunday, August 5, 2012

Cleaning House

Today I decided to do an honest to goodness cleaning of my closets (I didn't manage it yesterday, but I did get it done). I've read in several sources about how items that we keep for "sentimental" reasons can hold us back from moving forward. You keeps a t-shirt you borrowed from an ex ten years ago, and it somehow still ties them to that person or relationship. You hold on to an item you don't really even like because it makes you nostalgic, and it keeps you from moving forward to a new phase of your life. While this may sound silly, think about it.  Have you ever held onto something because getting rid of it is too difficult - you feel like it's somehow saying goodbye to someone or to some time of your life that you aren't yet ready to move on from completely?

Let me clarify - I'm not talking about tossing out the heirloom broach that has been passed down from your great great grandmother. You don't need to completely get rid of everything that reminds you of anything. I'm talking about tossing the t-shirt that you never wear and doesn't even fit you that you keep because you bought it at a concert you really enjoyed with someone you don't really even talk to anymore. I'd venture to say that unless you've done a closet sweep out of frustration or anger about a situation, most of us have been there - the "well I really could maybe possibly use it in this very specific situation, if that happens, but I don't know when that will be so I'll shove it at the bottom of the drawer and re-find it next year when I do my spring cleaning.

So, I ventured through my closets with an open mind. As went through items, I asked myself these questions:

1. When was the last time I wore it?  If not recently, why? If there was a good reason why I hadn't used it but I would, such as my suit that I probably need once every five years but I like to have it for those instances in which I do need it, then I kept it.

2. If it passed the time test, I then looked at "do I even like it" or do I wear it simply because it's in my closet and I feel guilty keeping it and not wearing it. If I like it, it and have use for it, I kept it.

3. Am I hanging on to it for a reason other than the fact that I like it and do/will wear it? If so, I evaluated carefully. There were items that I felt, if I looked at them honestly, I was probably hanging on to for the wrong reasons, and mentally/emotionally they were probably dragging me down or holding me in a place I didn't want to be. Those went into the donate bag.

Not only are my closets now cleaner and my dresser drawers not stuffed so full, it was a bit of a cleansing process. There were a few things I kept for positive sentimental value. My roommate when I lived in Australia, who had been a gymnast as well, gave me a shirt of hers that said "gymnastics" across the front when I left  at the end of the semester. Though I don't even have contact with her anymore, it meant so much to me that I kept it. It's full of positive memories of my time there, but it's not emotional enough that it holds me in that time period. I also have a shirt that I always used to wear when I flew because wearing it the first time got me safely to my destination, and I was superstitious about flying back then. I don't feel the need to wear it anymore, as my fear of flying has all but diminished (thank goodness), but it reminds me that I've come a long way. Maybe some day I'll get rid of these as well, but I don't feel the need yet. Rather than hold me back, these items remind me of how far I've come. To me, that's very reassuring that I'm continuing to move in the right direction. 

1 comment:

  1. I should add this: I'm also not talking about tossing everything that ever reminded you of a past relationship or time of your life. I never understood how someone can just wipe their life clean of, say, a relationship that was once so important to them or a time of their life that they once really enjoyed. I'm talking solely about things you keep only because you feel like you need to hang on to something. I love memories, and I'd never toss them all out unless I truly thought they were holding me back.