Push and Pull

There's sometimes a push and pull feeling that comes with clutter. It's "I like this" coming into conflict with "I don't like this."

There's something that still appeals to us that coexists with a sense that this thing is no longer a part of our life. We can get lost in the middle. It feels too hard to decide and we shut down and the thing stays in our life.

At the workshop last weekend, a woman clutter busted her purse. She came across Vietnamese currency from a trip she had taken last year. There were about seven bills stuffed in the wallet in her purse. She took the bills out and held them in her hands. She felt conflicted.

She thought she should keep the bills so she could show them to people. She thought they would find the currency interesting and maybe they would want to visit Vietnam. I asked her how many people she had shown the bills. She said nobody. I said she didn't sound passionate about using the bills this way. It sounded more like an obligation.

Then she said that maybe she would want to make a collage out of the bills so she could remember her trip. She remarked at the beautiful colors of the currency. I pointed out there was no enthusiasm in her voice. I said it sounded like she was trying to convince herself to keep the cash.

I said we're better off making room for the things we really love. The other stuff that we hem and haw about, that we're stuck in the middle about, takes our attention from the things we truly care about. I said the indecisive feeling is exhausting. It uses us up, rather than replenishes us. Things we love and care about and enjoy using give us energy. They are like nutritious food.

Another person attending the workshop said that she was an artist and asked if she could take the bills and make a collage out of them. The woman holding the Vietnamese currency said yes and handed them over. She seemed relieved.

It's worth noticing the stuck feeling when it comes up. Whether it's about a thing, a person, or an activity, rather than debate both sides, focus on the conflict. Notice where it appears in your body. What does it feel like? Do you like this feeling or not? How would it feel if the feeling was gone?

Being honest with ourselves about the effect a thing has on us makes it easier to make a clutter busting decision.