changing the stories we tell ourselves

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Over the Christmas holidays, I began to bemoan to my husband that our cute little home was too small.  “Our kids are growing, we need more space!” and “There is no room in this kitchen!  Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a larger home?” were the sort of things that could be heard coming from my mouth more than once over the course of the past few weeks.  I struggled with kitchen cupboards, a walk-in closet, and an assortment of plastic bins that felt full, full, full.  My husband, on the other hand, took all of this as a challenge.

Before we headed out to celebrate New Year’s Eve with friends, he spent the afternoon reorganizing the kitchen.  Now if you had told me that the problem of space in our kitchen could have been resolved by a couple of hours of moving things around, I would have laughed in your face.  However, I will admit that while decluttering is one of my strengths, organizing has got to be one of my weaknesses.  By the time we went out to ring in the New Year with some close friends, our kitchen was in impeccable shape.  My husband managed to re-order sufficiently several drawers, and areas where I thought things had previously been overflowing had become minimal, all without throwing anything away.  I was overjoyed – what a great way to start the year!

I’ve realized that when we look at things day in and day out, that we tend to form opinions about the stuff that surrounds us that may or may not be true.  My issue was that since I spent so much time over the past year looking at our stuff critically and deciding whether it needed purging or not, I had failed to spend any time whatsoever putting into order what is left.  Looking at situations with a fresh set of eyes is something that takes practice, but I think the more we practice, the easier it is to change the stories we tell ourselves on a daily basis.  I really don’t need a bigger home – I just need to look at things differently, and to try to avoid falling into a rut of only doing things one way.

So whether decluttering is a new challenge or an ongoing project for you, consider doing it with a fresh set of eyes.  Or borrow a fresh set of eyes from an enthusiastic family member:  ask for your spouse’s opinion or your children’s thoughts. Get a conversation going and you might just discover a way of doing something you hadn’t even considered.  And when all else fails, let someone else organize for you and celebrate their success when the work is done.

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4 responses »

  1. So, now I’m totally curious to know what you husband changed…maybe there’s something I can learn.

    Before I started decluttering, I used to dream of having a bigger house where I wouldn’t feel so squished. I also thought I needed more storage in certain areas, but it turns out I just needed to get rid of my crap. Don’t get me wrong, there are still times when I wish I had a bigger house, with say, a dining room, but I now know I definitely don’t need one.

    • We have a small kitchen, so it’s hard to make improvements without getting rid of things. But so far as I can tell, the only changes he made were putting like items together (all of the coffee and tea are together on one small shelf, all of the food items are in one cupboard, etc) and he stacked some things (like mugs) and nested other things (like bowls). Perhaps he’s just given the illusion of more space given that everything is more organized, but I’ll take it!

      I’m finding too that it’s easier to focus on using what I already have in the cupboards now that everything is organized. I also didn’t realize how much junk food (read: candy!) we had until he corralled it all into one spot – that alone has given me some inner strength whenever I feel the sweets calling my name at the grocery store, as I know there’s already plenty at home!

  2. “I’ve realized that when we look at things day in and day out, that we tend to form opinions about the stuff that surrounds us that may or may not be true.”
    Erin, this is so true! I also find that I become obsessed with certain things and completely blind to others. It does pay to step back and take a breath now and then. I’m just catching up on your blog, and thoroughly enjoying it!

    • I’ve noticed that now that I’ve stopped counting my decluttering, I’m focusing more on how things look rather than getting some arbitrary amount of stuff out the door. I think the counting served its purpose for getting rid of a massive amount of stuff, and now I need to focus on how what is left looks in my house. I’m focusing on creating a cozy, yet sparsely decorated home with things I love and what I already own.

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