February Habit #13 Joyously Give Myself Permission

IMG_5644Dear Friends,

February is Declutter for 15 minutes, and we are going to take full advantage of our time. Monday through Friday this month you will get a new Declutter Mission that follows the Zone we are in. If you have a declutter story or an idea that you have found to be useful please send us an email with MY DECLUTTER STORY in the subject line!

FlyLady Rebecca

February Declutter Mission: Mission #1 Zone #3

Today clen under your bathroom sink. Get all the items you no longer use or want and donate or throw them away. Get all outdated makeup, vitamins, and medicne out so you can find what you really use or love. If you have any questions about medicne call you local police department and they will know how to properly handle those items.

Dear FlyLady,

My house is not completely clutter-free, but I am no longer ashamed of it. I have been with your program off and on for many years, but the real kicker came when my husband started to throw things away after I had been paralyzed by the clutter for so long. I jumped in when I realized that he was throwing away my stuff and if I didn’t participate, I might not be able to control what leaves the house. I thought it was happening all too fast and I felt out of control and full of anxiety. As I look back, it was classic hoarding behavior, and once in a while it still rears its ugly head, but thanks to you and my dear husband, I have found the joy of letting go.  I will always be a hoarder at heart, but there was no joy in the possessions, just anxiety. Since I have been following your baby steps, though my baby steps are even smaller than yours, I have found joy and freedom. I have acquired a new motto: I will only keep in my life that which gives me joy.

As a hoarder, decluttering was very difficult for me. I couldn’t put things in the Give Away or Throw Away box, but that has improved as I went along. Hoarders have a tendency to need to think about every object, and it takes a little more time. If we take the time, we don’t have the anxiety and paralyzing fear of lack of control when large amounts of our possessions are just removed at once. Now as I declutter, I joyously give myself permission to let go, and I categorize each object as follows:

1. Is this a financial necessity for paying bills or doing my taxes? I put it in my bill paying center. Knowing my bills are paid on time and the taxes done and my refund in the bank gives me joy.

2. Is this an item I need or use often? I place it where I can find it easily or where it belongs in my house. I find joy in knowing I don’t have to search for it next time I need it. If it keeps finding its way to a hot spot, then I rethink where it actually belongs – is it too far from where I use it?

3. Does it belong to another family member? I give it to them to deal with. I find joy in the freedom of letting go of the need to control my family, and of allowing them the opportunity to make their own choices.

4. Does it need to be fixed? Every zone has a fix-it box and when I come back to that zone, I throw away everything left in the box because I did not find joy in the fixing. If I did fix it and it inspires joy, it has found a place in my home. If I fixed it and find that there is no joy once done, I give it away.

5. Does it have sentimental value? This is the hard one. We hoarders know when we acquired just about every object in our homes. So many things inspire memories. I made a Joy Book with a 3” binder filled with photo album pages. I ask myself if my joy comes from the object or the memories it evokes. If it is the object, I put it in a place of honor in my home. If it is the memory, I take a picture of it and place it in my Joy Book and then give it away for someone else to enjoy. At least once a week, I go through my Joy Book and smile as the memories come back. I write down my memory of at least one object each week and place it in the album. If I can’t remember why it was important, I remove the picture and throw it away. I see this as a way for my children to learn more about me, if not now, then when I am gone. They can see what gives me joy in my life and I hope to inspire joy in theirs.

I know that some of you think, wow, that is a lot to do. But as a hoarder, it is more necessary to take even smaller baby steps in the effort to change our behavior. I will always be a hoarder, but the baby steps help me cope.  As you advise, I am not behind and I am not trying to catch up, I just jumped in where you are and it is OK. I work on each zone in my own time and because of it, I have found joy and freedom and a clean and clutter-controlled home. As I continue to work with this, I have hope for a clutter-free home and that gives me even more joy!

Janice M.

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