Did you know that yogi have been talking about decluttering for about 5,000 years?
Well, not in the same way we think about it, in terms of managing the copious amounts of consumables we find ourselves surrounded by now. But in a similar way.
One of the aspects of yoga is a yama (which is essentially a moral guideline for our relationship with ourselves, others and the world in which we live) called aparigaraha. It is the yoga practice of non-attachment and letting go. So it links quite nicely with ideas of decluttering and letting go of stuff!
And although there’s all kinds of “STUFF” like anxiety, anger, hurt, sadness, grief, replaying hurtful comments, limiting beliefs, unhelpful thought patterns, compulsive checking or cleaning, the desire to check your social media status, etc let’s just focus on physical stuff for now.
Deepak Chopra can be quoted as saying “your world is a reflection of your inner state”
Take a moment and look around. What do you see?
Is it organised and how you like it to be? Or is it cluttered and disorganised?
What do you notice about your thoughts? Are there any “shoulds” that pop up? Like I should” really put that away, I “should” really organise that space etc or is it how you want to be?
The chances are, there is STUFF. I know for sure, there is stuff in mine. My home has a lived in feel and I have a two year old. At different times of the year, I have different levels of commitment to the practice of aparigraha in regards to decluttering my physical space. It changes like the seasons.
NLP and Decluttering
For example, this summer, I decided to apply a NLP strategy to decluttering our home. For those of you who haven’t heard of NLP before, it is essentially a branch of the psychology that focuses success. It kind of involves decluttering the mind of unhelpful thinking and habits so you can create the life you love. One of the strategies we use in NLP is modelling. Grinder describes modelling as the process of recreating genius. It’s based on the idea that if you want to get good at something learn from those who are good at it. More about NLP…
Thankfully, I know some people who are very good at organising. One of these people is a blogger called Teacher by Trade, Mother by Nature, (this woman is a rock star organiser!)
31 Days to Be Organised Challenge
She inspired an online group to take part in the #31daystobeorganised challenge by Peter Walsh (another a super organised person with lots of practical tips). The challenge revealed a new area to declutter each day for 31 days.
Engaging in the challenge, helped maintain motivation and increased my accountability. It also made significant difference to my physical environment and I learnt a lot!
Here are my top 5 take away points from the challenge.
1. 31 days is a mere suggestion.
I believe “every small step in the right direction makes a positive difference”.
I also recognised there was no way I could have maintained a sense of fun and balance in my family if I completed all the tasks in 31 days. So I decided to chip away at the tasks at my own pace and I noticed that following through has made a noticeable difference to our home. For example; my pantry and linen cupboard which used to be unorganised are still clean and tidy months down the track with the new systems.
2. Systems make a difference.
There is a quote you have probably heard “ a place for everything and everything in it’s place”. Now, I am not one to buy to generalisations (indeed, words like never, always and everything often get my attention). I also have a two year old at home so it would be very rare for “everything” to be in it’s place but having a sense of knowing where to put things helps create a sense of order and that I think is useful.
3. Language makes a difference.
One of my key take away points from the experiment was deleting my use of the word ‘later’ As I took part in the challenge I started to notice how often I would say things like “ I’ll just put that there for now” “I’ll do it later”. Just noticing my internal voice has helped create long lasting habits. Indeed, it is said that aparigraha begins by changing habits of thinking.
4. Boxing time and focusing is helpful
I found it really, useful to allocate myself X amount of time to focus on set tasks. Just like I do when I am teaching a yoga class or working with someone create long lasting change with NLP. There’s no phone or distraction instead there is focus, attention and commitment. This makes a difference. As did chipping away at the tasks in bite size time frames that matched my schedule.
5. Toddlers are fast!
There were countless times when I would spend an hour tidying and sorting a shelf or cupboard only to turn my head and find the whole lounge covered in toys – wouldn’t it be wonderful to harness that speed!
Consider What You Don’t Want
Another thing that made a difference was HOW I focused. Instead of going through my belongings and considering what I didn’t want (or considering what I wanted to get rid of), my attention focused on what do I want to have in my life.
Eg: Do I want this? Would I buy it? Does this bring me joy? Instead of, should I let go of this? Should I give it away?
Let’s play with the difference, this tweak in thinking can make….
Imagine you are in the supermarket store to buy food for dinner, and you only focus on what you don’t want to buy.
Let’s pause for a moment and actually imagine doing this.
What would it be like for you, to shop like this?
I imagine there are vast number of things you don’t want and only a few things you do want. Walking through the supermarket and focusing on discarding what you don’t want to buy, would take so much longer, because there is so much more of it that you would have to process. And let’s be honest, it feels a little backwards doesn’t it?
Now imagine shopping the way you usually do it, by focusing on what you do want. . . .
Whether it’s a list, or an idea about what you feel like eating, or maybe you are the kind of person who likes to look around to sense of what to buy. Either way, focusing on what you do want is a more direct, simple way to get the results you want. In this case food for dinner.
We only have a certain amount of attention. If we focus on what we don’t want, then, we have much less attention for focusing on what we DO want. One of my favorite quotes of all time is “where the focus goes the energy flows”
And if, we accept what Deepak says, about seeing the world as a reflection of your inner state, then, this habit of focusing on what we do want and not focusing on what we don’t want, becomes very useful indeed.
So if I may ask, what Do you want?
Today, tomorrow, next week, month and into your future. What do you need to let go of to make this happen? And what small steps can you take to make that dream come true?
Maybe this is as simple as scheduling in some time for you, coming along to a yoga class or maybe even booking in for a coaching session and letting go, of what is right for you, to let go of….now.
You may also enjoy some of the resources I used to inform this blog
- Learn about modelling from a founder of NLP
- See how another NLP expert Steve Andreas applies NLP skills to the decluttering process
- Get real practical tips for decluttering and creating order in your world from Peter Walsh
- Connect with my inspiration for the 31 day challenge. Be organised, Be inspired, Be creative and Be yourself with Charlene