This article is part three of the post series on minimalism. You can view the previous parts here.
part 1: My Experiment With Minimalism: HOW IT ALL BEGAN
part 2: My Experiment With Minimalism: SPACE CLEAR OUT
Here is an update on the journey I started in April, in the attempt to get rid of all the unnecessary things, plans and unhealthy interactions that were making my life too cluttered and stressful.
Having got rid of many things, I got this great feeling of lightness and freedom and felt I got more energized - especially being at home and enjoying its newly organized state. It is now no secret to me that I had simply been wasting too much of my energy worrying about things which were on the way. The whole exercise of reducing my possessions came really handy and helpful. You can read more about it here.
In my newly energized state I still felt that I had piles of things on my to-do list. The thought of it alone quite often made me very nervous and fidgety. I felt it was high time to do something to stop that panicky feeling, which was helping me to achieve nothing. So I made a pact with myself: there is just so much you can do. You can’t increase the number of hours in a day. But what you can do is accept it and try to organize yourself better.
So I sat down and made a list of all the things I needed to do. All of them. Everything I could think of – from framing those photos I wanted to hang in the kitchen for so long and calling friends who moved far away, to learning how to make risotto and sewing on my jacket’s missing buttons. To my surprise, the list had an end :) – and there were slightly over a 100 items on the list. It wasn’t that bad!
I also spotted a pattern - there were things on my list I wanted to do for ages – take a course, attend a lecture, read this and that book, listen to that program, watch that movie, but never did – for various reasons. This made me realize that if I don’t do anything about these points now, they will keep being a heavy load on my back and won’t bring me any joy. So without postponing it any longer I submitted an online form to sign up for the coaching course I always wanted to attend and then crossed out all the other things from the list I felt I wouldn’t be doing in the nearest future. Maybe I will later come back to them. Maybe not. But stopping to think about them made life so much easier. And my list got much shorter!
And then the most amazing thing happened. My whole ‘to-do’ situation wasn’t looking as catastrophic as I had previously thought, and this made me feel like adding bigger things to the plan. My dreams. Things I always wanted to do but never thought I could actually embark on because of how busy I was.
This was the biggest and the most PRECIOUS discovery of the whole to-do list clear out exercise. Why would I only think of the things I ‘have to do’ as worth mentioning on my plan? Why would I keep dismissing the big things, which warm my heart and are the most important to me in the long-term perspective, only to say I do not have time for them? My conclusion was: I need to stop postponing my dreams!
The last point of my plan was looking at my environment. That I thought was a rather easy thing to do. Was I being wrong again?
People who know me well say I’m a rather calm and self-contained individual who avoids conflict. Yes, I do avoid conflict. Problem is I do it at any cost. When I started to think about the situations, which have a negative impact on me, I gradually came to the conclusion that I myself was responsible for creating them. What happens is because of my inability to say ‘no’ in some situations, I let things I don’t really want to happen – happen. I also let people in my life I do not necessarily want to spend my time with/on. Guilty as charged! I further realized getting rid of this habit – the reluctance of saying ‘no’ - would not be an easy and quick thing to achieve. But I’m planning to do it step by step.
First thing in changing any bad habit is acknowledging the habit exists, so the good news is, I’m already making progress :). Secondly, I decided I would be paying more attention to the situations, which make me feel uncomfortable or - even worse - I regret happened, and analyze what I should have done differently. Thirdly, acting differently when the situations repeat themselves by using some of the techniques on overcoming fear I already mastered. And situations do repeat. I couldn’t get rid of the feeling I was making the same mistake over and over again by being nice and patient. So as of today I’m starting to pay the high price for my own freedom by allowing myself to be 'ungrateful', 'crazy' or 'not well behaved'.
As I dug deeper, it turned out I also needed to work on my relationships. Even though I’m rather good-hearted by nature I realized there are a couple of people who I
Another unexpected conclusion I arrived at during my clear out project is that I need to work on the relationship with my parents. It is so easy to take the relationships with the people closest to us for granted, but these should really be the relationships we cherish and care about most. And I can do so much more here – from being more patent to involving them in my life a little bit more. I guess it is being a mother that helped me understand this special bond between parents and children, which should never be neglected.
To tell you the truth, I was never expecting this project to influence me as much as it did and for its outcomes to go quite as deep. Again, it made it clear to me that life is a journey during which we make discoveries about ourselves and the best thing we can do is to really listen to ourselves and find the time to think about things, which are important to us.
Quick summary of my Minimalism articles series:
On Minimalism: Massive Clear Out!
On Minimalism: SPACE CLEAR OUT
On Minimalism: TO-DO LIST AND ENVIRONMENT CLEAR OUT
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