Everyone who has clutter is stuck in the past in some way, which makes it very difficult to move forward. Decluttering frees you to live your life to the full.
One of the main effects of clutter is that it can keep you stuck in the past.
In my book, Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, I explain that if a large percentage of the items in your home are associated with a time in your life you want to move on from, then a corresponding percentage of your energy is tied to the past rather than available in present time. Try as you might, any attempt to move forward will be slow.
Stuck in the past
A poignant example of this is an 82-year old man who my husband Richard worked with. He had been an antique dealer until declining health persuaded him to close his business and retire. At that point, he had a huge storeroom filled with valuable antique furniture and ornaments.
His main motivation for seeking clutter clearing help was that he didn’t want his wife to be left with the problem if he died before her, which was looking increasingly likely. But he still found it difficult to let go of items for less money than he knew they were worth.
Similarly, a woman who once contacted me had owned a music store until she retired, and instead of disposing of the remaining vinyl albums at that time, she moved them all to her home.
‘The inventory is worth a GREAT deal’, she told me. ‘I CANNOT bring myself to donate, as I can use the money. I have called stores and as an example of unfairness, I have been offered 50 cents on a vinyl album worth $35. These are NEVER PLAYED and yet I am stuck with housing them. I could supplement my meager income if I could just sell them.’
How to move forward
I have worked with many people who have closed their business and feel stuck in their life because they have not let the inventory go. It takes up space in their property and space in their psyche because they have not moved on.
In this type of situation, the truth that needs to be faced is that the value of the items reduces dramatically the moment you close your business because the infrastructure to sell them is no longer in place. If you’re willing to go through the laborious process of selling online, you can use the setup provided by companies such as eBay or Gumtree to do this, but you’re still unlikely to get much for them, and it can be very time-consuming and possibly futile (selling online is very different to physical retailing). You may also incur a tax liability because you’ve started trading again.
In most cases, my best advice is not to take this slow and potentially painful route but to let your old life go and embrace the future unencumbered by bygone times. There was a reason why you closed the business. Accept this, and move on. Live in the now, not in the past.
This is not what most people want to hear. However, it is the only route that I have consistently found works. When you free up the stuck energy in your home, you dramatically change the feeling of stuckness in your life, and new opportunities can come your way.
The man who Richard worked with turned out to also have two houses that he and his wife had filled to the brim with personal clutter. He was so motivated after clearing out his storeroom that he booked more sessions to clear these out too. He particularly enjoyed the trips to the local charity shop, to see his things being donated to people who could use them. Best of all, he looked forward to enjoying his final years with the peace of knowing it would be so much easier for his wife to cope after his death.
The music store lady didn’t have the advantage of hands-on help, but has let me know she’s made some progress selling lesser value items but not her “prized ones”. Her words reveal there is some emotional attachment she’ll need to work through before she’s fully ready to let go. In the end, it will come down to a choice of whether she wants to stay stuck in the past or open to the future. I hope she’ll come to see how freeing it is to release the past, and how essential this is to creating a better tomorrow.
Copyright © Karen Kingston 2017, updated 2021
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