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De-cluttering your clutter

September 23, 2014

You never know how much “clutter” you’ve accumulated over the years until the day you are moving houses or for whatever reason you decide to re-organize your house or just one of the rooms, say your bedroom for example. In the bedroom, you have your wardrobe full of clothes, but if you are just starting out in life, maybe you don’t have a big house with a designated bedroom and a wardrobe just yet, but at least you have a place where you keep your clothes – maybe you hang them on the wall or you put them in a suitcase (I know both these options because I’ve been there and done that). Anyway, whatever the case and wherever it is that you put your clothes, get some time and go through them and you’ll be surprised at what you might find.

Well, we all did that a couple of weekends ago at home and what we found out just surprised us. Do you know those big Nigerian bags we see Nigerians using to carry money in on Nollywood movies (Nigerian movies)? After that filtering exercise we did at home, we filled up two of those bags with clothes and a slightly smaller one with shoes and other things. Of course each one of us also found things they couldn’t give away either because they were completely worn out or because such things cannot be shared e.g. undergarments. At the end of that exercise I personally had enough of those to burn.

The most amazing thing is that after sorting out all that clutter, we found out that we had a lot of space left and the wardrobes were less congested since each one of us just remained with stuff they always use. The unwanted stuff left enough room for new things (if need be) but most importantly, it was now easier to identify what one wants to wear faster than before. One other thing we noted as we were doing the cleaning up is that there are things we had even forgotten we had because those things had gotten lost under stuff we did not even need. Of course it was one very tedious exercise but I have to say it was very rewarding in many ways and it is from this experience that today I would like to share my takeout with you.

In the same way we collect physical things such as clothes, shoes, handbags, etc, we also collect experiences, memories, friends, frenemies (friends who double up as enemies), etc. All this clutter we store in our minds and hearts and over time we become somehow saturated with negativity. Just like we need to sort out the physical clutter we accumulate over time, we need to do the same for the emotional clutter we collect over time. What do I mean by this? Read on.

In life, we face many situations that are not always nice and great and as a result, some of us are scarred for life and live in fear from that point going forward. Say for instance you had a bad experience in your recent relationship, where your partner hurt you deeply causing you to fall into depression. Of course something like that is not easy to just walk away from but does it mean that you will live the rest of your life alone because you fear being hurt again? People are different, and no one is perfect, just like you are not, but that does not mean that every human being is as messed up as the person who hurt you. Stop judging everyone else based on your last experience.

I never was a fan of Tupac Shakur but for once I agree with what he said with regards to moving on after a tragedy. His version was not very clean but I have tried to clean up his words for my readers. He said, “You can spend minutes, hours, days, weeks or even months over-analyzing a situation, trying to put the pieces together, justifying what could’ve would’ve happened….. or you can just leave the pieces on the floor and move on”.  My interpretation of this is the same as burning those torn and worn out undergarments that you’ll never wear again and going out to buy new and fresh ones, probably with a new fashion design.

Another angle I thought of as I was thinking about the clutter we collect in life is the company we keep. Yes, I am talking about your associations. Who are your friends? Do they help you grow or do they help you remain in stagnation? If you want to grow, then surround yourself with people who have what you want (or are already where you want to be), people who are ready and willing to hold your hand and show you the way. Do not let peer pressure keep you from your success. Sometimes you have to sacrifice some relationships if you want to grow to the next level. You have to come to a point where you make tough choices and tough decisions. Like the late Martin Luther King Jnr said, “let no man pull you low enough to hate him”. My understanding of this quote is that before they pull you down, distance yourself from them.

There are lots of areas in our lives you can apply this idea of cleaning up the excess clutter you have collected in your life. For instance, it could even be technology. How much of it do you have and how much do you spend on it? Do you find yourself spending a lot of time with your gadgets instead of being more productive in other areas of your life? Has technology mastered you instead of you mastering it? I admit I have been finding myself in this predicament but I have purposed to do something about it. Just like I de-cluttered my wardrobe, I am doing the same too in other areas of my life starting with technology.

This week my questions to you are very simple; what areas of your life are cluttered? How has this clutter affected your life? Are you ready and willing to go through a de-cluttering process in order to make way for a better you? Again, like I always say, only you can answer those question.

But from me to you, I wish you a de-cluttered week.

PS: Article originally published in Tanzania's Guardian on Sunday on the 22nd September, 2014, under my weekly column "Thoughts in Words"

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