How to Declutter for a Simpler Life – Part Four: Komono Cont

declutter for simpler life part four

Honoring Your Need for Space

It has been several months now since I started this journey. My attention has waned in the last few weeks as I’ve given myself space from the decluttering process. But I’ve returned. The emotional turbulence of the project requires time to assimilate and attune to what’s taken place.

I’m a big proponent of honoring our individual needs for space and time to heal and renew one’s self. And that’s what I’ve been doing. Yet I learned a lot in my last round of decluttering. In this post, I’m going to share with you the rest of my experience in decluttering my komono.

If you didn’t read my last post, komono is the Japanese word for miscellaneous items. These are items like make-up, CDs/DVDs, knick-knacks, decorations, wires, pens, papers, etc. These items can add up quickly. And this category contains sub-categories, which can consist of a large portion of items.

In that post, I discussed the mundane task of sorting paper as well as the emotional summersaults I experienced as I discarded – possibly sentimental – perfumes. Each round of decluttering shows me life’s stability and instability. The ups and the downs. The boring and the lively. This teaches me that objects take up space on all spectrums of our emotional Richter scale.

With each object we own, we set aside a certain amount of emotional space in addition to psychological and mental space. Each object registers as an emotion from joy to anger to boredom. And, often, we thoughtlessly keep objects that register as fear, obligation, boredom, dissatisfaction, or even sadness. We fail to recognize that these objects no longer bring us joy. And we never stop to contemplate whether or not we have the power to part with what doesn’t spark joy for us. (P.S. We do have the power.)

If I’m not happy with it, I don’t have to keep it.

Recognition of Fears (Limiting Beliefs)

During the komono category, I began to recognize certain fears getting in the way of my letting go. These are the same fears that prompted me to keep what I have in the first place. As I recognized this, I decided to step back and ask myself: what are common fears that come up in response to discarding items?

Here’s what I came up with (please add your own):

  • I’m being wasteful
  • My family member’s or friend’s feelings will be hurt
  • What will they/he/she think of me
  • What if they/he/she gets mad
  • It’s irresponsible of me
  • It’s still in good condition
  • I might use it someday
  • I might like it again
  • It might come back in fashion
  • I’ve had it forever though
  • I use it… sometimes
  • It brought me joy… once
  • I’ll feel sad if I let it go
  • But others have so little
  • This is bad of me

In other words…

  • Might, might, might (future-tripping)
  • What if, what if, what if (future-tripping again)
  • Fear of other people’s feelings and reactions
  • Self-criticisms
  • Fear of own emotions

These are what’s called “limiting beliefs.” Limiting beliefs hold us back from making personal changes. They keep us from expanding into a new level of personal growth. We can’t reach the next step if we allow these thoughts to go unseen and unquestioned. In decluttering the remainder of my komono, I came up against limiting beliefs such as these.

I can see now that I didn’t get joy from at least 75% of what I’ve kept. The only reason I’ve kept these things is because I thought, “What if I have to buy this again in the future? What if I don’t ever find one quite like this one? What if I like it more next month or year?” Or other thoughts like those above.

I heard these thoughts bubble to the surface as I cleaned out my patio closet. And in particular, when I reached for the fire starting logs.

The Unquestioned Fire Starting Logs

Evan and I have a fireplace in our apartment – that we never use. And yet we’ve managed to get a bounty of fire starting logs. They come from family and neighbors who give them to us out of kindness and simply “thinking of us.”

Most recently one of our neighbors moved. And she dutifully brought her logs to our front door. I smiled and said thanks, as though it were some kind of departure gift. A “farewell for now.” Or, “Take luck!”

As I toted them to our patio closet, I reflected on how I haven’t started but one fire in that fireplace – and we’ve lived here three years. Now our living room furniture is arranged in a way that it would be unsafe to start a fire. And I don’t intend on re-arranging.

I knew we didn’t need them from the moment I took them in my hands. As I walked to the patio closet, I looked down at the logs with a frown on my face. I felt like a sheepish child scooting away from a poor decision. And yet it didn’t cross my mind that I could throw them away. Instead, I stored them in an already overcrowded closet.

It didn’t cross my mind because I bought into the limiting beliefs that said, “Maybe I’ll need them one day.” Well, those beliefs went in the trash. And so did those logs.

The Decluttering Continues

As far as my komono decluttering goes, I’ll be here for at least a few more days, if not weeks. I find myself unable to move forward to the final category: sentimental items. I’m just not there yet.

I’ve given myself space from decluttering, since it’s a deeply emotional process at times. But now that I’m ready to move forward, I see areas in which I can still go back and declutter further. I see things I wasn’t wholly honest about. Items that can be discarded still.

As I mentioned in the first post, decluttering can take up to but no more than six months (Marie Kondo insists). So I’m giving myself until the end of June to have this process completed. I think I’ll be finished before then, but that gives me time to comb through previous categories before moving on to the final – and hardest – category: sentimental items.

Stay tuned for the next post to see if I’m able to move forward!