How to Clear Your Path in 2018

De-cluttering has become a major craze in the last couple of years, with spin off businesses & experts to match. You might think that it is just a current fashion, but in fact the roots spread back for hundreds of years & run much deeper into philosophies & belief systems of ancient civilisations.

De-Clutter & Clear Your Path in 2018

Chi & Fung Shui for the Year Ahead

The concept of positive & negative energy was common to many early belief systems. 

The word chi means energy and the ancient Chinese study of Feng Shui is about optimising the use & flow of energy within our daily lives. The Chinese believed that the Chi of the cosmos affects our feelings & moods, our fortunes & our health, whereas human chi defines our own personality. Blocked energies, internally or externally, make us unhappy, or unsuccessful. So living in place that has blocked energies around it or within it will affect our lives & our emotions.  

Many ancient civilizations believed that working with nature was an essential to happiness.

Native Indians were among many who studied both local landscape & astronomy to establish where they should site themselves. Feng Shui, too, strives for harmony between the earth, the universe & humanity to achieve inner peace by optimising energy flow. 

Buildings were sited & designed to work in harmony with both the earth & the universe.  Astrology was extensively used originally in the initial planning stages & the first ever magnetic compass designed for these practices.

Feng Shui aims to balance the Yin & Yang (masculine & feminine energy), day & night, summer & winter. The five elements of fire, water, metal, earth & wood have to be in harmony & their juxtaposition affects how they well they work. The full, original study is a hugely complex philosophical system.

The Consequences of Clutter

Internally, clutter has always been considered a dis-ordered state. 

There are sound, practical reasons: cleaning a messy house takes far more time than a tidy one.  Living in chaos inevitably affects your efficiency levels as you hunt for whatever you need. But it is also generally harder to find peace, to feel relaxed in messy, chaotic spaces. This is because energy gets clogged up in clutter, even if the clutter is stored tidily, & this impacts negatively on every part of our lives.   

You might think that we would all find getting rid of clutter to be a useful & maybe even appealing job therefore. Not so. 

While we are perfectly capable of organising big clear outs of our possessions, when we attempt it, this simple task can feel mountainous. This is because clearing possessions is actually an emotional issue. When you hang on to a possession, you are hanging on to an emotion.

If you are wondering why you should bother, reflect that if you cling on too hard to the past you miss out on living the here & now. 

Check if you are making yourself a victim to this, by questioning how often you refer to the past, or go over & over things that have hurt you years ago, or if you use past experiences to justify your current state or behaviour. If the past makes you feel sad or angry, & you want a different life, you need to let go of the past and de-cluttering is a very good place to start. 

A New Start With Decluttering  

De-cluttering guru & author, Marie Kondo attributes it to people being afraid that if they throw away an object, they are will lose the emotions & memories they attach to it, & that it is this that makes us feel so panicked when we attempt our own clear-outs.  

Kondo maintains that truly precious memories never die. 

Another issue is that we keep sentimental possessions because they meant so much to “Aunt Jane”. While Aunt Jane may have been important to us, the object itself means nothing to us. We may not have any use for it or even dislike it. As they spark no genuine positive emotion in us, having them drains our positive energy according to Kondo who advises passing them on to a new owner with our love.

De-Cluttering as a Lifestyle

Stephanie Bennett Vogt, of teaches a different approach, that clearing & de-cluttering is not about doing a deep, spring-clean type clear out, but an ongoing lifestyle & part of our personal development. 

She says that when we just throw things out we are seeking an instant reward of feeling better, & as with any instant gratification; the moment is fleeting. Any underlying issues behind our tendency to hoard remain undealt with like this.

Stephanie believes we obsess that we might need these objects one day, are frightened with the emotional overwhelm of letting go, afraid something awful will happen if we do and harbour beliefs that we will be a “bad” person if we get rid of certain things. 

She feels big clear outs can be too much and instead uses a mix of science & the Japanese self-improvement philosophy, Kaizen, to encourage clients to aim for a simpler way of living that gently observes & lets go of negativity. 

Places, as well as possessions, retain the positive & negative energies of the people who live there. To complicate things, our modern devices, our computers, wireless, cell phones & some lighting all give out electromagnetic radiation which interferes with our energies.  

Energies in your living environment, both after de-cluttering & simply at regular intervals, benefit from space clearing, letting out the negative & in the positive. 

Tips for Tackling Clutter 

These are some of my top tips for tackling the clutter in your life:

  • Start with non-sentimental items. The Japanese way recommends you clear by category rather than by room & you work in the following order: clothing, books, papers, miscellaneous stuff & then the sentimental items with photographs the last of all. The impetus of successfully clearing non-sentimental stuff will help inspire you to tackle the harder items. Try doing one of these groups at a time & celebrate when you have finished.
  • Continually focus on what you want to keep rather than what you want to get rid of. It is then so much easier to see the difference in your own gut reaction.
  • Take your time over your selection. Ground yourself firmly in the present & relate the items to your current life & the person you are today rather than the past.
  • Ask yourself if you absolutely love this thing, way up there ahead of most of the stuff you have. Touch it & ask if it really spark a huge joy & feeling of well-being in your heart. Make sure your love comes direct from your own authentic voice, not from some emotional complication from other people or occasions in your past. 
  • Don’t forget your computer & phone. Delete old emails, old files you no longer use, people you are no longer in contact with, shopping channels you no longer shop from. Technology is noisy enough – limit it.
  • Ask if the item has a place where it lives all the time. If not, create one if you are sure you want to keep it. We all have this horrible habit of keeping sentimental items we think are awful, but “mean something”, tucked into drawers and cupboards. If it means that much, put it on show proudly & if not, say goodbye.
  • Question the item’s function – does it make life easier or better for you.
  • Check you are hanging on to something because it represents the true, authentic you, not someone you would like to believe you are or a person you would like to be. These types of things might be designer objects, impressive but unread books, unused exercise machines.  Just be authentically you.
  • Photographs are a big challenge because of the emotions. Stand back. Is there any sense in keeping blurred ones or ones that make your loved ones look particularly ugly?  Keep your best memories alive & well instead.
  • Make sure you give to charity as you clear out – just because these items have served their purpose with you does not mean they have no purpose for someone else now.
  • Thank the items for their function before getting rid of them. By thanking the item, you acknowledge the respect & love that is associated from it to a person or memory in your life & lessens the guilt over parting. 
  • The more secure you are in your present, the less you will need possessions from the past.  This is why de-cluttering does form part of your self-development, self-love & self-care.
  • Like breaking all bad habits, it is a question of changing your ways on a daily basis in the future. Stop accumulation. When you buy something new, stop & consider getting rid of one or more of the things you have. Your possessions then keep decreasing.
  • Keep daily discipline by keeping your house tidy, making your bed, washing your dishes, keeping your fridge, store cupboard & your medicine cupboard all cleaned out of items past their sell by dates. Feel the calm that radiates through you as a result.
  • Most important, clear time for peace every single day, when social media (& your phone) is all switched off.  Clear & quiet & natural energy.

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Jan is an English entrepreneur, writer & business coach. Over a long career, she founded several businesses in diverse areas from music, catering & manufacturing. Her brand & furniture designs are still being sold worldwide through the new owner.

Jan has always been involved in promoting entrepreneurship. She was chosen as one of Britain’s first 50 Female Entrepreneurial Ambassadors in Europe & has a long speaking career to schools, colleges & business groups on Entrepreneurship. She also talks on sales or on the particular issues that hold back women in business. She writes for several publications & is also writing a book.

She loves helping other business people fulfil their potential & now has more time to devote to both speaking & coaching worldwide. She is able to offer her own experience in building & running businesses, but also now helps others find the peace & work life balance that she herself finally achieved - which she says makes her a far more useful, & more importantly, happy human being.

You can learn more about Jan on her website & you can connect with her on Twitter & LinkedIn.