When we say it’s time to “clean house” it usually means to take care of business. To get rid of what isn’t working.
I’m going to show you how to “clean house” to let go of the past.
To let go or get rid of a past that’s not working in order to make room for what does.
Our home is storage space for our belongings but also for our feelings.
Everything in your home represents how you feel about yourself. The good, the bad and the not so pretty.
How to Organize to Let Go of the Past
Instead of starting with organizing your stuff, let’s start with feelings or memories.
Make a list of what you wish was gone from your life.
What would make it easier to get up in the morning with a smile on your face and peace in your heart?
Let’s start with any bad habits, toxic friends, memories of old relationships or behavior patterns. As you think of these feelings write a list. Keep writing until you can’t think of any more.
Here’s some examples of habits, relationships or behaviors you might want to “clean house”:
- Memories of a failed first marriage
- Late night snacking
- Work relationship that went bad
- Listening to a friend who doesn’t listen back
- Too many unfinished projects around the house
Get the idea? On your list put down every feeling that’s become a burden in your life. This isn’t about any judgment on you or your past, it’s simply a way of acknowledging what may be holding you back.
Once your list is finished, take each list item and throw it away.
But you’re saying, how can I throw away a feeling?
Here’s how we can throw away feelings and let go of the past. I’ll use the examples:
1. Memories of a failed first marriage (RELATIONSHIPS)
Do you have any items from your first marriage you’re still holding onto? Letters, bills or divorce papers? I wouldn’t suggest throwing away legal evidence of your divorce decree as you may need it, but what about throwing away everything else?
Have you held onto wedding photos and mementos? Perhaps ticket stubs to concerts or events you both attended. You’d be surprised at how much it can help to get rid of these things.
As everything has energy, why not release everything that could be energetically connecting you to memories of that first marriage. The one that didn’t end so well.
While you’re at it, throw away your guilt and regret too.
When we go into relationships, we take with us whoever we are at the time. We mix our “stuff” up with our partners stuff and what comes out the other end is two people who have changed each other. But you’re still the “you” before the relationship and the you created in the relationship. Does that make sense?
It’s impossible to be in a relationship and not be changed by it. Sometimes that’s what we mourn or grieve the most. Who we thought we were with that person. But you’re still that person. You created that lovable fascinating personality, not your partner.
Organization Tip: Create a small box to hold any relationship items you ‘re not ready to part with yet. Make a note on the box with a date 6 months from now. If you haven’t looked in the box or no longer need to remember what’s in it during that time, put it on your calendar to toss it by that date.
2. Late night snacking (BAD HABITS)
Have you always been a late night snacker who wishes they could kick the habit. Perhaps you want to lose some weight and nighttime eating is sabotaging your diet.
What could you throw away that would help you break this habit?
Obviously snacks in the house, habits around snacking such as watching TV late at night and perhaps a partner who’s also snacking could be “thrown away”. You don’t have to get rid of your partner but what other ways could you throw away that habit. Perhaps you throw away the habits with them that result in snacking.
Bad habits can be tough to throw away. After all there’s a reason we start a habit in the first place. There’s usually some kind of reward for it.
Breaking a habit like snacking at night could mean throwing away a negative self image you get from feeling overweight.
Try throwing away that negative self image first. Then work on throwing away the habit.
Organization Tip: Make it easier on yourself to stop snacking. Go through your kitchen cabinets and refrigerator. Clear out anything you know is an unhealthy snack. Stick a photo of yourself (when you felt you looked your best or were at your ideal weight) inside a cabinet door where you’ll see it. Or use a magnet to put one on the fridge door.
3. Work relationship gone bad (BEHAVIOR PATTERNS)
Perhaps you’re harboring a grudge or resentment over a work relationship that went sour. Whatever went down, you just can’t seem to get rid of those negative thoughts. The “what ifs” and the “if only I’d said thats”.
If what happened wasn’t fair or your boss or co worker didn’t have your back, it may be hard to let go.
Here’s what you can do.
Look around you at home and pick out anything that’s a reminder of what you don’t want in your life. Throw it away.
While you’re tossing it, keep an image in your head of that person or situation and feel the release as you get rid of that garbage too. Maybe next time you won’t tolerate being put in a tough position, or you’ll find a way to speak up.
Get used to not tolerating bad behavior from others just as you won’t tolerate stuff you don’t want.
Organization Tip: Pick a day with no distractions and go through each room in your home. Take your time. Go through your closets and collect anything with negative vibes.
This includes things that other people may have left behind.
You have permission to toss it. Don’t be surprised if you have conflicted energy while you do this. Keep working through each room and closet until you’ve purged everything that doesn’t make you feel good.
4. Listening to a Friend who doesn’t listen back (TOXIC FRIENDS)
As you learn how to clear out things in your home that no longer make you feel good, you’ll realize this applies to people too!
Do you have a friend or family member who’s always complaining. Someone who uses your shoulder to cry on too often?
This person makes you feel drained after each encounter. You feel trapped because you have a history with them but you don’t feel excited about seeing them. The conversation is always one sided, they do all the talking. They want you to feel sorry for them.
As you start to throw out stuff that no longer serves you, think about the people in your life who no longer lift you up or support who you’re trying to be.
It can be hard taking a realistic look at a friendship you’ve had for years.
You don’t have to throw away this person, but take this opportunity to let them know how you feel. If they’re not receptive you may have to let go of this relationship.
Organization Tip: It takes a lot of courage and faith to think about letting go of an old friendship, even if it’s not satisfying. Find a note pad and pen and make a list of all their good traits as well as bad. Put it aside.
Pick a time to organize your closet. Really!
Start with your hanging clothes and work your way through clothes in drawers. Shoes, socks, the lot. I recommend the Kon-Mari (Marie Kondo) method. Folding your clothes makes it gets easier to create space and order.
Once you’re finished with your closet organization, take another look at the list you made. Decide how to handle your friendship. Be honest and put your needs first for once.
5. Uncompleted projects (BEHAVIOR PATTERNS)
We often start organizing our closets and homes but never quite finish the project. Or knitting Christmas sweaters or painting furniture gets pushed to a corner and forgotten. If you’ve multiple half finished projects, you might want to throw them away.
But you’re saying, “I really want that table or sweater completed”. I get it. But that unfinished project is sucking your energy.
Do you have relationships that are also kind of half baked. Ones you haven’t put your heart into?
One thing really does lead to another. Our lives at home tend to be a mirror of how we are in the outside world.
Toss those half finished projects. It doesn’t mean you’ll never start a project again, but when you do, it will get done. It will be finishable. You won’t be the person who tolerates half baked or half done anymore. In relationships or paint projects.
Organization Tip: This one is easy. Toss or donate those half finished, undone, never gonna complete projects. Dig them out from your closets, your garage and attic. Say good bye to feeling like you can’t finish what you started and say hello to fresh start.
When you do bring home another project, don’t put it away until it’s done. No hiding or stashing. Give yourself a time limit and then get er done.
Your list may look very different to my examples, but you get the idea.
Start with your list of feelings and things that don’t serve you. Throw them away.
Think about feelings you’d like to get rid of and start throwing away items associated with those feelings. Photo books, old papers and mementos. Potato chips.
As you work your way through your closets and rooms, let those feelings out. Be prepared for some emotional overflow. Take your time.
Cleaning out your closets turns out to have a lot to do with cleaning up your life.
Once you’ve cleaned up your past, the present and future will have room to come knocking on your door.