Every New Years it’s the same: new year, new you. We list resolutions to be more disciplined by eating healthier, exercising more, curbing our spending, limiting our binge TV watching. Often we fail because we’re human. We dive back into our old habits—the worst of which is judgment.
What if this year we could stop judging ourselves for falling short? Stop judging others for being just as human as we are?
What if we could stop compulsively consuming and purchasing material possessions in which we indulge in the vain attempt to feel better about diving into old habits? What if with every item we purge, we could also purge old habits, bad memories, false narratives we tell ourselves?
You see, a reason I am so drawn to decluttering possessions, organizing what I have, and living minimally, is because I find it healing to wipe my slate clean. The physically bare home I live in (which is not really that physically bare—I am by no means a minimalist), helps me wipe clean the cluttered mind and heart I carry around all day. We all have cluttered minds and hearts, heavy with memories, feelings, conflicting ideas, and questions that burden us.
I want to dip my soul in bleach. Scrub away the old memories. Toss out resentment. Donate my regret. I want to declutter my heart, wipe clean the times others have hurt me, discard the times I’ve hurt others.
If only it were that easy. If only I could toss out a bad memory along with a broken plate. If only I could donate self-judgment along with a tired sweater. If only I could scrub away the hurt I’ve caused others while scrubbing away the mildew from my bathtub.
Maybe it can be that easy… or, at least, the beginning of the healing process can start that easily.
Maybe we can go through physical items in our homes, or compulsive, undisciplined habits we have, and when we decide we no longer want them in our lives, we can attach an emotion, a memory, a habit along with that item, and decide to get rid of it for good. The item can be discarded immediately, but the emotion, the memory, the habit all take longer to erase. But it can be done.
And when we start up that old habit, either by purchasing decorative items we don’t need, or online shopping without thinking, or wasting perfectly good food, we can stop ourselves, look at the physical progress in our living spaces as a reminder of how far we’ve come. And maybe that can help us with our hearts and minds when that old feeling arises, when that sad memory washes ashore. Maybe we can find a way to empty our souls of these heavy burdens—and continue on in our healthy habits of living in the present, optimistic for the future.
When you are so bogged down with years’ worth of unhealthy habits, like negative thoughts, the same old worries, unpleasant memories, perhaps you can begin to rid yourself of them by ridding yourself of items that remind you of those intangible things.
Decluttering what you no longer find useful and organizing what you do find useful won’t solve internal issues. But it’s a step to healing.
And I’d say that the new year, new you doesn’t need a new outfit, a new haircut, or thinner body… I’d say the new year, new you needs healing. And tossing and donating old physical items is the step to healing your soul. A step. Not the solution, but a step toward the solution.
Happy New Year. Here’s to healing!