Why it makes sense for highly sensitive people to declutter…

I haven’t always led a simpler, decluttered life. It’s time to confess that I’ve been a bit of a stuff-keeper in the past, holding onto many things because ‘mum gave it to me’ or ‘I might need it’ or ‘it cost me a fortune’. And during all that time I felt heavy, weighed down conscious of the responsibility of all these possessions. I have to clean it. Pack it if I move. Unpack it again. Try to love it. Thinking back I can still feel the sadness of the unloved things around me.

There was this one day almost 13 years ago, I was listening to Pop Master so I guess it was around 10.35, maybe on a Tuesday, and I was sat in my parents’ caravan on the driveway of the house I was renovating at the time, taking time out to get to know my new baby boy (great timing, right? the nesting instinct was strong for me but the builders didn’t quite keep up with the schedule!)

Anyway the lady on the quiz this particular day was a house-sitter; she had a no fixed home of her own, just a little van with her few possessions and she travelled (I like to imagine) easily and breezily from one location to another, not a care in the world. 

I was absolutely enchanted by this idea of living with only what you truly needed and I see how being highly-sensitive is a key part of this desire; everything around me calls for my attention, I find it hard to ignore anything, and especially anything with emotional overtones (which, in a home full of gathered and gifted objects, can be a LOT of stuff!) and so reducing the number of objects, replacing with clean simplicity, is an absolute balm to my soul.

I returned to the dream often in my mind, usually triggered by the sight of a camper van or beach hut. Those small spaces are gems of creativity and organisation – a combination which always gets my heart racing!

Still, I had no real idea of how to achieve this light-as-a-feather feeling and every now and again had a ‘tidy up’ or ‘clear out’ but it never worked or lasted. Inevitably then, with this on and off search in my heart, I read the in-book a couple of years ago, what I call ‘the tidying up book’ you know the one; The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. (It had me at ‘Magic’ to be fair; I love a bit of fairy dust around the place!) I have to say that whilst I don’t agree with everything Marie includes in the book, which I’ll no doubt return to at some point, she did a lovely job of bringing the idea of decluttering to the forefront recently.

My absolute stand-out take-away from the read was the idea of sparking joy.

This simple pair of words empowered our family to fully declutter our little home this year. It was the closest I’ve ever come to the idea of beach hut simplicity that Ken Bruce unwittingly planted in my mind all those years ago., and it was the powerful nudge I needed to re-train as a coach (more on that just here).

And then we relaxed, safe in the knowledge that we’d successfully decluttered. Right?

Well, no. Inevitably stuff started creeping back in. Working from home means paper takes over. We cut ourselves some slack, we stopped purchasing as mindfully as we did and we didn’t put everything away.

Space creation is a journey, not a destination…

The heaviness crept back in along with frustration that we’d ‘failed’. The process itself had taken place over around 4 months, at times quite intensive, but it was a one-off bit hit and what we hadn’t done was change our habits in a lasting way.

It was no great surprise to me that as I’ve thought more about…

  1. the empowering process of decluttering
  2. the challenge of habit changing
  3. how I was evolving my coaching practice

… the realisation settled that I want to support other highly sensitive introverts on a journey of decluttering heart, head and business. Not through a strict and formulaic programme. In a gentle, personalised, at-your-pace kind of way. Because we’re all different. I certainly am. And you are too.

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