Clear out the old to make room for the new

New life, old lifeOne of the primary reasons clutter clearing makes such a difference is that clearing out the old makes room for the new.

If you are happy with your life as it is and content to remain in the same old groove, read no further. Just leave everything in your home as it is.

But if there are aspects of your life you would like to change or improve, the fast-track route to achieving this is to begin by clearing out everything that no longer fits with who you are. After all, when you buy a new sofa, you don’t try to place it on top of the old one. You move the old one out first, and then bring in the new one. This creates the space you need, and also does something more. By letting go of the old sofa, you also release any associations you have with it and any stagnant energy that has accumulated around it.

This is easy to see with something as large as a sofa, but the same principle applies to each and every item you own, big and small. Your home is a mirror of yourself, and you are connected to everything in it. The process of releasing the things you no longer love or use creates room for something new, both in your home and also in your life. When your space is filled with too much stuff or too many things from the past, the energy stagnates, and there will be a correspondingly stagnation in some aspect of your life.

Most people think that all the things they keep are an asset, or at least a potential asset that will come in useful some day. But in the 35+ years I’ve been conducting space clearing, clutter clearing, and feng shui consultations around the world, what I’ve seen again and again is that the effect of the stagnant energy that surrounds clutter usually far outweighs any benefits of keeping it.

Here’s a simple test you can take to discover how rooted in the past you are. Take a stroll around your home and estimate the percentage of things you own that evoke strong memories from bygone times. If this applies to more than 50% of your belongings, then you are living more in the past than in the present, and are not so available to engage the new and embrace the future. Keeping a few sentimental items around you is fine but when they take over your home, they also take over your life, and no amount of fond memories from the past are a substitute for living life to the full now.

Copyright © Karen Kingston, 2014

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12 Responses to Clear out the old to make room for the new

  1. Gillie says:

    When I first started on this journey one of the hardest things I found to get rid of were books. Not the novels and stuff I had bought in the past few years and either didn’t like or were no longer relevant. No, the books I had been carrying round me for years. I had a huge collection of children’s books and all my university texts (I read philosophy there were a lot of books!).

    The philosophy books, with a couple of exceptions, were the first to go. Despite my best intentions I was never going to read them again. The children’s books were much harder. Almost all were hardback and all had been read over and over again, there were several hundred. So I waded through and kept a few I knew I would still want to read again, and a few that held special memories. All the rest went to a book charity. I took three carloads of books.

    As we unpacked at the other end one childhood book fell out and I had a bit of a waver. Then I told myself that I would never read it again, that there would be a little girl who would love to read it and keeping it was a little bit like having a massive collection of artworks and locking them up in a safe and never letting anyone look at them. After that it was easy, because it was clearly so wrong to keep things I didn’t need.

  2. Wendy Lee says:

    I started on my laundry room, however I have a ton of rags, unused bed linens, table linens, etc. How do you decide how much is too much, how much do you keep?

    • Hi Wendy

      The problem with keeping things you never actually use is the stagnant energy that collects around them, which will have a corresponding stagnating effect on your life. I suggest you use the diagrams in my Clear Your Clutter book to check which area of your home your laundry room is located in according to the feng shui bagua. If the corresponding aspect of your life could use a boost, then this would be a very good reason to keep what you need and use, and let the rest go.

  3. Vanessa says:

    I don’t think the idea is to force ourselves to get rid of things we love; this isn’t about being a minimalist or living a monk-like lifestyle. It’s more about getting rid of what weighs us down. I would never get rid of a childhood book that is sentimental to me. It’s not about “wavering.” It’s about making room. But there is nothing wrong with keeping what we love if it makes us happy. I’m sorry but I don’t think that is the intention, here.

    Am I the only one reading this blog?? Karen, I love the Readers’ Letters section and wish that were updated more frequently.

  4. Jacqui says:

    I regularly clear out my clutter and love doing it but nothing in my life seems to change . I have been feeling very stuck in my life for many years and dispite getting rid of the old I never seem to move forward. What am I doing wrong. I would be grateful for your advice.

  5. Elisabeth says:

    Dear Karen
    I am getting older and in the foreseeable future we will have to move into a much smaller space. I have already begun to part with things very seriously, trying to keep only what still has a living memory and is speaking to my heart. However, I am often visiting old, lonely people who all take such delight in telling about their past, showing pictures and trinkets they are highly valuing. Now I fear that I am getting rid of too many things that might give me consolation in future years. As I am slowly losing my mobility I might have to spend more time indoors without much company (I have a very small family). There might then be enough room for the “new”, but no new will come. What advice can you give me, am I wrong somewhere? Thank you so much, Elisabeth

    • N. says:

      Dear Elisabeth,
      It is true that many people like to visit and share fond memories from the past, but there will be more new people to meet and new things you will find interesting as your perspective changes, especially if you are going to move into assisted living. There will be many new things every day to talk about, I assure you!

      • Elisabeth says:

        Dear N.
        Your good words are very comforting, and, come to think of it, they are so true. I thank you sincerely for your kind, uplifting and helpful reply. I feel much better now!

        • N. says:

          Thank you Elisabeth for your kind words.

          Many people have told me that they have a renewed interest in great works of literature such as poems by Emily Dickinson, and art, that the insights they gained from the years lived made the beauty more apparent that they didn’t quite recognize before.

          Hardship of later years is real and cannot be looked over, but I am sure that as long as we are alive, there will be so much more to see and share.

  6. jesi says:

    Whenever I De clutter especially rooms I’m in a lot it makes me feel sad and empty. Even afraid. I find myself hoarding all my precious possessions around the spot I tend to sit in the most and it becomes my spot and I’m even resentful of having to change anything about it. Sometimes I feel like I make a cocoon of things and whenever I have to clear it up I just have this overwhelming sense of unease like I’m exposed. I absolutely hate it. And I want to be a tidier person and have my personal space be something I’m proud to show off I just don’t know how to get rid of the overwhelming almost homesickness for my nest of things.

  7. Dina says:

    What are the ramifications of being involved with someone who won’t let go of belongings, and living in the past? Can this affect you by association?

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