MANILA, Philippines – When I was packing for my move to Singapore in 2012, I was overwhelmed with the amount of clutter in my room. How did I manage to accumulate all these things I hardly used? I remember when I decided to move, the first thing I did was to take a hard look around, and I sighed.
“I can’t take this all with me,” I thought.
In hindsight, I was a mindless buyer. I bought things in the spur of the moment, only to realize that I hardly used them at all. This realization made me re-evaluate my relationship with money and material things.
How many of us stack up on material things we don’t really need? I tried to research into the process of de-cluttering one’s life, and these are what I learned:
1. Know what you value
Cleaning out your personal space is akin to deleting files on your computer. You can’t save more data unless you have space. When you delete files, you focus on letting go of unimportant, desktop clutter to make room for more urgent documents.
Sometimes, we have a hard time letting go of material things because we have a big emotional attachment to them. Remember that cheerleading outfit you wore in 6th grade? I do — and I haven’t worn it since 6th grade.
I confess I’ve held on to so many “sentimental items” that have stocked my closet, and forced me to buy storage for these said items. Ridiculous! But when I really was forced to clean things out, I realized that I actually didn’t need these things.
I was holding on to memories of how things were, when I was missing out on how things are. I still keep a special box for my sentimental attachments, but now it’s far more edited and compact versus keeping everything for sentimental reasons.
2. Know what you have
When buying, I always used to think, “I never have enough.” This lack mentality made me think that I always needed more and what I had wasn’t good enough. However, I never really took account of the things I already had. I was actually blessed with exactly what I needed or more.
When I took a closer look at my closet, I knew it was time to let go of excess items taking up useless space. For example, you don’t need 8 black t-shirts, and could probably live with 3 or 4 that you really use. Sometimes, we use only 20% of our actual wardrobe consistently.
By prioritizing what I really used and needed, I easily edited out what was taking up space.
With all your excess clothes, you can donate them to charity, pass them on to relatives, or even do swap meets with your friends. Having clothes in your closet and not using them is also wasteful, knowing that other people can be using them.
My high school teacher gave good advice when it came to balancing material things. She said, “Whenever you buy one item, make sure to give one away.” I was able to apply this advice to my life in order to remind myself never to accumulate too much.
3. Know why you buy
To think about how much money was wasted on a pair of shoes that were bought in the heat of a sale, or the several beauty products that lay there half-used on the bathroom counter…I realized I was continuously buying things I didn’t need.
But how come I couldn’t stop?
As I faced this internal question, I dug deeper at the root of my spending. I believe that in the past, I was trying to acquire material things to fill a void I felt inside. We all go through moments of buying when we think a product will change our lives overnight.
Well, perhaps our dark eye circles will disappear, or we might lose a few inches off the waist. I won’t say products won’t necessarily live up to their labels.
What I am stressing is that while we are hunting for instant solutions to symptoms, we forget to face the real causes behind them. And so, I found myself buying material things…to decorate my life…and find happiness…temporarily.
Soon enough, the buyer’s high would fade, and my wallet would be lighter. I would start all over next week…accumulating clutter…I didn’t need….to fill a void…that was inside.
What a cycle.
Once I was able to dig beneath the surface on what made me happy inside, the mindless buying stopped. Knowing what the real issues were and facing them head-on freed me from seeking peace via purchases. Retail therapy may work for short-term satisfaction but not for long-term results.
Knowing this truth, I was able to focus on allocating my money to work towards a happier future versus filling up my life with distracting clutter.
4. Clear mind, new energy
The habit of clearing out one’s space isn’t just about cleaning your room. It’s more than that. It’s clearing your mind as well. The physical clutter we allow to grow is a reflection of the mental clutter going on inside our head.
The process of removing clutter helps us know our priorities, values and reasons for acquiring them. This, in turn, frees up our minds to feel lighter and more in control.
When we let go of our old, futile attachments, we create space to breathe in the new.
Energetically, cleaning out past energy creates space for new, positive energy to flow through. – Rappler.com
Smiling young woman photo from Shutterstock
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Victoria Herrera is a TV and event host, model and writer. In 2011, she released her first book, “Unscripted,” based on inspiring conversations on her previous radio show. In 2012, she hosted Runway TV Asia where she interviewed international fashion designers and celebrities. Shuttling between Manila and Singapore, she continues to explore the world of creativity, design and fashion as a contributor for several magazines and newspapers.
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