Stop Holding Old Items.
Everybody holds on to sentimental items at some point in their lives. It might be a postcard from a friend who lived abroad, or a dried bouquet of roses from wedding. Then there are the more questionable items – perhaps you still have notes from an ex tucked away in a drawer somewhere, or a stack of medical bills you paid a while ago, but hold onto anyway in case you need a record of it.
Whatever you’re holding on to, the bigger question is this: why are you holding on to it in the first place? The answers may not be as obvious as you think.
The Connection Between Physical Clutter And Mental Clutter
Our choices in life are almost always physical manifestations of our subconscious and our emotional connection to the world around us. According to a study done by John A. Bargh and Ezequiel Morsella of Yale University, the patterns of the unconscious mind precede the conscious mind, and as a result, determine much of our behavior. Bargh and Morsella also found that the subconscious is actually not as inflexible as neuroscientists and psychologists previously believed. In fact, through cognitive behavioral therapy, we can rewire our subconscious to improve positive behaviors.
What does this have to do with clutter? A lot, actually. When we hold on to personal items, we are really holding on to an emotion that our subconscious is making a connection with. For example, you might keep a bin of old stuffed animals in your room because it reminds you of your childhood. But take a closer look and ask yourself why you can’t get rid of those stuffed animals – is it because you fear letting go of being a kid? Are you holding out hope that you’ll use them again if you have kids? Does it make you anxious to throw them away?
If the thought of letting something go causes tension, or even guilt and shame, you are actually creating subconscious drama in your mind, which could be negatively affecting your mood and wellbeing.
The Benefits Of Getting Rid Of Old Items
There are many reasons to dispose of old things. Instead of focusing on the negative (for instance, feeling upset about throwing something away), focus on how getting rid of something will improve your life. When you are mindful of the positives, you can train your brain to associate actions with positive memories. Here’s how getting rid of old items can be beneficial to your mental and ultimately physical health:
- Detachment from unpleasant, subconscious memories
- You can add new items to your home that have new meaning
- Get rid of clutter, mess, and disorganization
- Let go of expectations of your self (for example, getting rid of your old size 0 dress that fit you in high school)
When we let go objects that are actually holding us down, we can break free from our own personal shame and fear.
How To Get Rid Of Things The Right Way
It still might not be easy to throw away those binders full of notes from college – after all, you worked so hard on them! When getting rid of old stuff, psycohologists recommend doing it one by one, that way you can evaluate it’s meaning and why you need to let it go. Be honest with yourself too, and don’t let yourself feel guilt over saying goodbye to things that once symbolized so much to you. One practice to live by is the KonMari method, developed by organization queen extraordinaire Marie Kondo. Kondo suggests keeping items that bring something positive to your life, or “good vibes” you might say. These items should give you at least one of four things: truth, love, meaning, and purpose. If it doesn’t bring you any of those, it’s time to get rid of it. So stop holding on to old items and break free.