When Things Linger Too Long

05.04.22 07:55 PM By Shanley

How to make more space in your home

When I work with clients one of the first things we do is to identify their goals for their home. Often the goal is to make more space. “I want a bigger garage, bigger kitchen, bigger-insert room here,” say my clients.

Part of what decluttering does is to make space. When your cupboards and drawers are stuffed to full (or overflowing), there is no space for new things to come in and move you toward your goals. Decluttering clears those blockages in your mental and energetic states too.

process flow

It’s important to understand that processing is part of organizing. If you aren’t ready to get rid of an item, you won’t. That’s the reason that things stay in your home for longer than their intended purpose. But if you are unintentional about paying attention to what is in your home, things will linger longer than they are needed. Photos are a perfect example of this.

Karen's bridal portrait
Photo courtesy Karen Caig

How many times do you walk by a photo in your home and not even notice it anymore? That’s called clutter blindness. 

In a story one of my clients shares, Karen had a photo of herself from her first wedding that, frankly, she hated. She was bullied into getting it, didn’t like it, and rarely displayed it. 

She even asked her son if he wanted it and his response was, "You look sad in that." She took that as a "no."

Another photo of Karen’s grandfather in her home made her feel sad and angry whenever she talked about it with me. I encouraged her to think about why she was keeping these photos.

Sometimes you keep things like photos or clothing from those who are no longer with us. These items can represent ancestral trauma. You can sever the ties and heal that past trauma when you release unnecessary items in your home that aren’t moving you toward your goals.

It took Karen a couple of weeks to process why she was keeping her photos, but when she was ready, she was able to release them. Karen posted on Facebook that she had let them go, and a family member immediately came back with, “You should keep those! They’re family heirlooms!”

A “Shanleyism” I share with my clients is we try not to “should on ourselves.” You COULD do something, if you choose to. If it makes your heart happy you COULD do it. But if someone is “shoulding” on you, make it your choice, not theirs.

So, I encouraged Karen to send any other unwanted photos to that family member so they could become the keeper of those memories. If Karen was not interested in having them in her home anymore, it’s important she not feel bullied into keeping them. And that’s exactly what Karen did when she came across additional “family heirlooms” as we worked through her photos. 

Now a year later Karen is able to recognize that she had to process her feelings about those photos to be able to release them in order to create the life she wanted.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, here are three tips to help move you forward and reduce the amount of photos in your home.

Look at your photos you have displayed. Really look at them. How do they make you feel? Honestly. If they don’t make you smile inside, you may want to consider why you are keeping them. Would it make more sense to offer them to someone else in the family?

Go through photos in boxes or old photo albums, etc. Do you know who the people are in the pictures? Can you write on the back of them identifying the people and the occasion? Is there a way to organize them that makes sense to you? Are there some you want to pull out of hiding and display in your home? Can you let go of duplicates or blurry photos? Can you pass along unwanted photos to a historical or cultural society?

Consider making digital copies of your old photos. If some are damaged, have them restored if they are special to you (do a web search for businesses that specialize in these services). When you have digital files of all your photos (including all the photos on your phone), make an organizational plan (by family, year, events, people–whatever makes sense to you) and create files for each category. Use these organizational categories for future photos as well.

Give yourself plenty of time and emotional space to do the processing you will have to do as you touch each photograph. You will gain a new appreciation of the photos you let linger in your life. And the photos you release will make space for you to breathe (and possibly forgive, like with Karen).

It’s in the processing–not just the organizing–where the magic truly happens.

As a Certified Personal Stylist, KonMari Consultant, Reiki Master, and Professional Organizer, I can help you make the magic happen!

Give me a call or book a consultation and and we can figure out how to make that happen.

Here’s my direct scheduling link: https://shanley.zohobookings.com/#/customer/discoverycall

Until then, move forward with Peace & Grace!