Clearing Our Space for Mental Clarity


What started out as a DBT distraction skill practice to tolerate distress has turned into so much more.  For years I've been managing what used to be a hoarding problem. Years ago I threw away so many bags of trash that it was unbelievable. At that point, my life changed.  I no longer filled my home with objects.
 
Since then over the years, I've slowly collected and accumulated little things and started cluttered corners here and there.  Nothing at all like before, but I knew somewhere deep down inside that the reason I was doing it was because I felt some sense of security in having lots of "stuff" around me.
 
Don't get me wrong. My living space is not and hasn't been something you'd see on a TV show like Hoarders. For the most part, I've kept it neat and tidy. But there are certain spaces that have been cluttered with things. Things that held memories. Things that were cute.  Papers that I didn't want to throw away "just in case."
 
The top of my filing cabinet was one such place.  The nightstand next to my bed another.  The desk in my office another.
 
I decided to make one of these little spaces a little bit nicer and practice parting with things.  Dr. Marsha Linehan recommends this as an activity that you can do in order to create a space that is soothing to us through the sense of vision.  You might clear a table and then place upon it a vase of flowers...or leave it as it is... just clean and clear.
 
I was determined to be effective while feeling bored and thought: what better way to use my time. If I'm so bored, I can get around to all of these little "pesky" tasks I've been putting off for so long.
 
I started four piles: donate, recycle, shred, save box, and trash.  At first it felt very difficult to participate fully and mindfully in my chosen task.  I would look at a ticket stub and hold a fond memory and put it in the save box.  I'd then look at other articles and realize that I hadn't needed them or even looked at them in a year (or more). These made it into the other pules.  Once I finally had a clear space, the area transformed for me. It became more tranquil.  I felt like a weight had been lifted -- as if I'd released something beyond the physical objects and memories that they represented.  
 
The process became addictive, and I moved onto a another space.  Before I knew it, I was organizing and cleaning out drawers, closet spaces, and my laundry room.  What started out as a terrifying prospect -- parting with my stuff, because I thought doing so would cause me to lose a sense of myself, has become a liberating adventure with me adding tasks to the "what's next" list. Just when I think I've finally run out of projects, I realize there is more.
 
At some point, I'll probably run out of areas to organize, and that's okay.  I feel like, in some way, the process has set the stage to "open space" for other possibilities. Not more stuff to replace the old, per se, but something which I cannot yet imagine.  I have a good feeling about this.  I'll keep you posted.

Can you relate?

Might you benefit from taking a bit of time to de-clutter your space?
 
 
Thanks for reading.
More soon.
 
In kindness,
Debbie
 
 

2 comments:

  1. Thanks Debbie. I've heard when your closet is cluttered, it means that your mind is cluttered with junk. Makes sense. Clean out your closet or messy space, it helps you mentally. It reallt helps. It took away alot of stress when I cleaned my closet and I felt a lot better.

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  2. Debbie, my daughter 27 year old does the same. I have just posted on wordpress about BPD as I see it. None of those who read me, know what has been happening in my life and I needed to try and explain. If you have time to read, I would really appreciate your thoughts.

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