Life is always changing, and most of us will go through periods of highs and lows, over and over again. This cycle is the same for everyone and we all have a past. We’re all imperfect humans who are trying to do the best we can. Sometimes, if a person tries to hide that imperfection, or if they can’t let go of the past, or if they try to cover up the past, clutter can be the result.
Hanging Onto The Past
It is normal to keep sentimental things. We all do it to a greater or lesser extent. But you can’t hang onto everything. Keeping too much sentimental stuff from days gone by can turn your house into a museum of the past. There is no room in a house like this for the present or the future. It can be very difficult to find satisfaction in daily life, when you are constantly comparing it to what has gone.
The reality of life is that we only have this given moment to do anything. What we’ve done before is inaccessible. What we are planning to do is unreachable until we get there. We can only decide what to do today to influence our future. And if we are making decisions today with the influence of the past all around us, are we making the best decisions?
Keeping too many sentimental things gives them physical space in our current life. That means that the memories are not just taking up mental space, but actual physical space in your home too. They can seem bigger and more influential than they are because of this. If you keep everything, this doubling up of space rapidly consumes the present until it can seem like the best of your world has already gone by.
The best way to change your future is to start with your present, and if your present is full of the past then you are not going to go in the direction you need to be going. Sentimental items can be physical baggage that you really don’t need.
Rethink how much you save, and try to keep only the most precious things. Your future deserves a chance, some space, and an open mind. The best days really could be yet to come.
Covering Up Your Past
Another reason for clutter can be an avoidance of the past. Someone avoiding who they were might have painful or shameful memories. They may keep nothing at all of their old life, but own huge amounts of things in the present. They may do too much shopping and over-spending, or constantly buying, and then selling and then buying again. This sort of behaviour hints at underlying problems that haven’t been dealt with. They are using things to hide and to distract themselves from what’s inside.
Buying stuff never brings true contentment or satisfaction. You cannot buy a better life at the shops, and you cannot cover up negative feelings with physical possessions.
We cannot run away from the person that we have been. But in the current moment we can choose both how we want to be and how we will deal with our past.
How Does Accepting The Past Help?
Accepting the past is both conducive to, and a result of, decluttering. By that I mean that it’s a process that goes hand in hand with removing excess from your life and knowing what you really want.
Accepting your past helps you to let go, and letting go helps you to accept your past.
So which comes first?
These two things – self acceptance, and living with what you truly love and no more – walk hand in hand. Sometimes self acceptance leads the way. Sometimes the extra space in your home gives you the peace you seek.
Decluttering is not just a process of clearing things out and then getting on with your day. It’s about letting go of projects, dreams, good and bad ideas, and habits that did not serve you.
As you accept yourself for exactly who you are, faults and all, you become kinder to yourself and others. This isn’t an overnight process, and sometimes it’s two steps forward and one step back. But change is possible. Forgiving yourself, and forgiving others can be very hard. Sometimes not even something you can do. But the more you can forgive, especially when it comes to judgement of yourself, the more contentment you will find within.
Inner contentment leads to outer calm, and our outer environments are a reflection of our inner thoughts.
See your sentimental things in a different light, and don’t be afraid to let go of what no longer has a place in the present.