If standing in the doorway of your closet, surrounded by clothes that are too small, triggers negative self-talk, don’t fret—release yourself by ditching the ’emotional baggage’
By Margaret Lanning
I grew into my double digits in the 1980s, when consumerism was at an all-time high in our country. Although my family did not espouse the wasting of anything, the culture around us had a pull. I learned from TV that I needed more clothes, more jewelry, more friends, a bigger house, and a larger bank account, to name a few. Though I was taught the fallacy of thinking “more” brought happiness, I hoped maybe I could at least rent it.
So when I felt good, I shopped. When I felt bad, I shopped. As my own little family grew, so did the stuff around me. As the stuff grew, my anxiety grew. As my anxiety grew, I went shopping.
My friends and I all joked about retail therapy. It was an accepted way to deal with stress. We even did it together and called it recreation.
However, buying, managing, cleaning, fixing, and organizing not only my stuff, but the stuff of four other people, began to catch up with me. As depressive symptoms were beginning to overpower me and the heaviness of feeling overwhelmed was following me, I began to realize that I had some unloading to do.
When I started psychotherapy, I was lucky enough to find a tremendous guide who helped me pick through lies and truths and sort what should stay and what should go. I began to realize that I needed to do the same sorting in other areas of my life.
Standing in the doorway of my closet, for example, had become an unpleasant experience. Shirts, pants, and skirts from bygone sizes, styles, and emotional attachments leapt out at me. You better keep this smaller size for when you lose all that weight. Your mother spent a lot of money on that shirt for you—don’t give it away. You better wear these pants because you got them on a super sale!
I hated getting dressed in the morning. The negative self-talk definitely started in the closet.
I have been experimenting with the “tiny wardrobe” idea. I purged my dreaded closet of items that bring me negative emotions. I have a couple of shirts, pants, and skirts—in only one size—and just the necessary accessories. My shoes are basic and my jewelry slim. I feel good in my clothes—all my clothes—for the first time in a long while.
Do I miss emotional shopping? Yes. Do I miss feeling miserable every morning as I struggled to get dressed? Definitely not.
I am starting to go through the clutter in each room in my house bit by bit. I am deciding to throw or give away a lot of it. It’s tough to do. So many memories and messages are attached to things. I’m wading through guilt, sadness, happiness, loss, laughter as I evaluate each of my belongings.
As I sift, I pray for release and freedom. I ask questions of each object. Do I love you? Do you bring good memories into my life? Am I keeping you because of someone else’s expectations?
I’m making decisions to get out from under the control of pleasing everyone around me except myself. I’m no longer keeping tchotchkes that my relative loved because they loved it, or want me to.
In the process, I’ve boxed many things and stored them in the garage to see if I miss them during a six-month period. Some keepsakes have re-emerged from storage, but most have been thrown away or given to second-hand stores as blessings for someone else.
I’m spending less time looking for lost items. I’m limiting my time shopping and spending fewer dollars needlessly. And I’m cleaning my less-cluttered house more easily and quickly.
I’m teaching my kids to do the same. I’m talking to my friends. I want to help someone else start to unburden themselves. I’ve got miles to go, but I’m learning every day how to simplify and take care of myself. I want to shout it from the rooftops: Less is more!
I feel lighter. My heart and head feel lighter. Oh, and did I mention? I’m applying the “reducing excess” idea to me, too. I’ve lost 15 pounds and have about that many more to go. I haven’t always been mentally ready to do this, but I am now.
Lighter. That is the goal.
Printed as “Viewpoint: Lighten Up’, Winter 2018
via Esperanza – Hope To Cope
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