Some of us think holding on makes us strong,
but sometimes it is letting go.
Spring cleaning is always a great opportunity to clear out clutter, clothes that no longer fit, and old items that we don’t use anymore. For those already familiar with Marie Kondo has taken this to a next level. Her unique “tidying” method, branded KonMari, raises the bar for rationalizing the the stuff that we hold onto, from jeans to jewelry to coffee mugs.
Marie Kondo’s process:
Ask yourself, “Does this bring me joy?”
Yes? –> Keep it and find a pragmatic place for it based on use, size.
No? –> Genuinely thank the shirt/novel/fidget spinner before adding it to a donation pile.
I watched the first episode of the Netflix series with my mom a few weeks ago. Since then, she and I both have been on a Kondo-inspired campaign to spring clean our respective homes. There is something really therapeutic about taking a hard look at your belongings:
Does this bring me joy?
Is it useful? Do I need it? When is the last time I’ve used/worn it? How does it make me feel?
Does this have sentimental value? Why have I held onto it? What’s the story? Does that story still serve me?
I quickly found that a “spark of joy” (tokimeku in Japanese) is a pretty high bar to apply to ones’ belongings. And, while it was a lot of work, the clearing out process left me feeling lighter, less stressed and more connected to the (fewer!) things that I invited to coexist with me. I’m not particularly sentimental, nor do I buy (ahem, too many) things that I don’t think are necessary. (It helps that my 8 and 11 year old daughters are all too aware of our family’s carbon footprint.) Even so, I couldn’t believe the multiple bags and boxes of items that our family managed to uncover as unnecessary, too big or small, broken, boring, painful, disappointing, worn out, useless.
Over the past year, I’ve routinely heard that Marie Kondo’s book has “literally changed my life” from friends and colleagues, to which I most often shrugged in half interest. When I heard about how shirts are to be folded like origami and organized like a standing accordion, I knew it wasn’t for me (read: life is too short).
So far, I’ve only applied part of Kondo’s systematic approach — the sorting and emptying part — with only a half attempt at the finer details of her organization techniques. (Maybe I’ll origami my t-shirts in retirement.) Even so, I finally understood the hype: I felt liberated.
“What if we applied spring cleaning to our lives in a deeper way?”
The feeling was strikingly similar to how I feel after meditation, or my chosen form of moving meditation, yoga. I began to connect the dots between these two practices. For weeks, I had been asking myself what I could metaphysically release; what no longer served me. And here I was, in full physical manifestation of the act of letting go. It made me think: What if we took as careful a look at what we allow to percolate in our headspace — our self-talk, ruminating, protective armor — as we are now inspecting and optimizing our kitchen drawers?
Inner Spring Cleaning
So, here’s my Marie Kondo approach to inner spring cleaning. Before practice, I’ve been asking myself:
What thoughts, beliefs or behaviors can I let go of that no longer serve me?
What do I spend energy on that no longer fits in my value system?
For me, a collection of self criticisms, impossible standards, goals, and a dash of irrational fear were the first to bubble to the surface.
While exhaling, I’ve been envisioning myself plucking each of these thought tracks off a dusty shelf and chucking them in the trash. Up and out.
In their place, I’ve been welcoming in two new things:
- Little ways to practice self compassion, like making myself a healthy lunch, not pushing through pain of an injured ankle, not over scheduling, not caving to false obligation, not doing. Not. Doing. Getting curious about what happens when I’m not doing.
- Expressing gratitude for both the big and little things. Mostly little things: the laughter that fills the house while playing a board game, the beauty and magic of redwood trees and humming birds, learning something new, a long-awaited orchid bud, the way my dog “hugs” me, listening to my older daughter teach my younger one how to write her first essay, watching my younger one dance her heart out. Most days, there are too many to count, and I’m left feeling an abundance of love.
So, I’ll ask you:
What is one thing you let go of this season? What is one thing you can welcome in its place?
Chantel Garrett founded Strong 365, a project of One Mind, to ensure that more people get the right kind of help and support for mental health concerns earlier – when it matters most. As supporter and advocate for her brother who lives with schizophrenia, Chantel’s work merges a personal passion with her career as a seasoned corporate marketer to drive radical change in the way we view brain health and how we access care. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and daughters.
At Strong 365, we believe that the strength to persist and thrive through a mental health challenge exists in all of us. Join our community on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter and keep the conversation going about how to live well with psychosis. We invite you to share your own story here.
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Images: Annie Spratt