Authentic Living 102: Clearing Your Space

You feel the urge to start over; to be someone new; to start living your authentic life.

Perhaps you have just started a new job, moved to a new house, ended or begun a new relationship, had a child (or conversely finally gotten your kids out of the house) or have had a spiritual epiphany. Or maybe, just maybe you feel that, for some reason, the time is right for a new beginning.

The reasons are not important. What is important is your urge – your NEED – to begin again.

This urge – this NEED – shows that you have reached a new level in your personal development and are ready to acknowledge the fact that you have begun a new chapter in your life’s story and, interestingly enough, all new chapters always begin on a fresh page.

Where I personally have messed up multiple times, is in not taking this urge seriously. By brushing it aside; treating it as something amusing but not a priority, by not following through I have found myself falling back into the old habits and patterns that inevitably take me back to the beginning again, and once more I find myself having to relive the lessons that I thought I had finally mastered.

Each person will go about the “starting over” process differently, depending on their personal preferences and priorities. I am going to share with you what has worked for me. This list is in no way all-inclusive, so feel free to add or subtract as you see fit. Instead see it as a sort of outline, flesh it out with what feels right for you.

How to Clear Your Physical and Emotional Space

I’ll grant you that really getting into your house/apartment or room clearing DOES offer you an opportunity to vent your frustrations with whatever it is that is bothering you, but it is also a lesson in psychological clearing. For when you physically clean your space you are emphasizing a simultaneous psychological clearing as well.  So as you work, take time to mentally evaluate those things that are directly tied to the space/items that you are clearing out of your life.

Step #1:  Clear the Clutter

It is amazing how much STUFF we tend to accumulate – both physically and emotionally. Where on earth does it come from? Better yet – WHY DO WE KEEP IT? Books and magazines and ticket stubs to movies we didn’t actually enjoy. Outmoded ideas and beliefs; collections of various knickknacks, photographs of people whose names we’ve forgotten, broken pieces of furniture that we’ll get around to fixing one day, the list goes on and on and on. Each and every item not only takes up physical space but emotional space as well.

Get rid of it – all of it (yes the emotional and psychological clutter as well!).

Any physical object that you do not use at least once a year (the exception being specialized sports equipment) a GET RID OF IT! If you HAVE to collect something, pick your top five favorites (for me its books, sheet music, elephants (don’t ask), international gods/religious statues, paperweights and baskets).

I set myself a limit in each category depending on the amount of space I have for it. If I want a new item, I have to get rid of one of the old ones. Allow yourself one box for “Personal” items (ticket stubs, birthday cards etc.) and, when the box is full, purge the old stuff. It’s amazing how many memories (many of them negative) that we attach to these odds and ends. Clearing them out of our lives can help emphasize the new beginning that you are wanting to embrace.

Step #2:  Clean Top to Bottom

From your ceiling fixtures to your baseboards – CLEAN EVERYTHING. Clear the cobwebs out of the corners, scrub the stains off the carpet, run all of your curtains and bedclothes through the laundry. Check the air vents for dirt build-up, change your air filters, and wash your windows. You will be surprised (or maybe not) at how your mood will lift when everything is CLEAN, and free of the odors and stains that you may not even realize you were associating with past mistakes and failures.

Step #3: Mental Re-evaluation 

Go through your paperwork, your magazines, your computer files, and purge and pare down. Condense those things you want to keep, delete or shred those things that are no longer needed.

This is the perfect time to start a journal (or to get a new journal if you already keep one). Select it carefully; the color and type you pick out can speak volumes about your personal self-image.

Pick out several new books that you want to read, or subscribe to a magazine that reflects your philosophy on life.

Go through your “favorites” list on your computer. Do you even know what some of those sites are anymore? Why are they taking up space? Do you belong to extemporaneous internet sites? Are there games taking up space on your hard-drive that you haven’t played in years? Delete them, discontinue your subscriptions.

Chances are that as you come across various objects in this particular category you will be inundated with memories and emotions associated with them, don’t be afraid to let go of these as well!  Especially those that are not serving you (that is, those that do not reflect the highest expression of who and what you really are).

Step #4:  Re-evaluate Your Wardrobe

It is not just your physical wardrobe of course, but how you present yourself to others. Is the persona you are presenting to the public authentic? Or is it simply what you are “expected” to be?

As to the evaluating the wardrobe you keep in your closet…this may sound particularly ridiculous, especially to a guy, but try it! Go through all your clothes, put aside everything you haven’t worn in a year (the exception being heavy winter clothing or specialty items, such as ski-suits, swim-suits or evening gowns/tuxedos).  Put those items you no longer use (or that are too small or out of style) immediately into a plastic bag or box and get it out of the house. Give them to charity, or put them up for adoption at a consignment shop if you can’t stomach throwing them out but if you haven’t worn it in a year, DON’T KEEP IT.

Once you’ve pared out the things you haven’t worn – go through everything again and this time delete everything that you don’t want. This is harder. This takes an evaluation of who you are, what you want, and you may be surprised to find that you have been wearing things that don’t fit the image of the person you want to be, things you’ve worn because you felt obligated Were they a gift? Something someone expects you to wear?  Don’t let someone else’s expectations dictate the persona you present to the world.

Finally, check your underwear. Yes, I said underwear. Does your underwear fit? Does it cover what you want to cover or show what you want to show? Why not? It’s amazing how much better you feel in your clothes if you are wearing the right kind of underthings. Again, this can be seen as a psychological process as well – WHAT IS SUPPORTING YOUR BELIEFS? What lies at the core of your understanding? Will it hold up those things that should be supported?

Step #5:  Physical Reboot

No psychological clearing is complete unless one has undergone a physical purging as well. Some people are blessed with enough income to go to a spa or health retreat and spend their hard-earned $$ on mud-wraps and massages and steam baths, but a two-day juice-fast, long-hot soaks in the bathtub and over-the-counter face masks as well as long sessions at the gym can make you feel amazing inside as well as out, as can committing to a long-term (realistic) exercise and/or diet plan.

I know that it may seem like a lot of work, but by paying attention to all aspects of yourself, by re-evaluating everything from your grocery purchases to your wardrobe, you can uncover a host of psychological blocks that you never even knew existed and which, had they gone un-detected and un-addressed, may have caused you to fall back into your old habit patterns.


Step #6:  Ditch the Guilt

Finally – ditch the guilt over getting rid of the things (both physical and emotional) that are no longer of use to you. The whole point is to re-create your world to reflect WHO YOU ARE NOW. Not who you were.  Without this last step you have will keep your clutter at bay for a while, but eventually it will creep back in.  So don’t skimp on this last step.  But when you have taken it, take a deep breath and look around you and revel in the openness and authenticity that you have incorporated into your life.

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