- Mental Health»
If You Want Change, Start with a Purge
Feeling Stuck on the Treadmill of Life?
Are you stuck in a rut? Do you want change, but are you at a loss for how to start?
Well, there is a saying, “In order to change your life, you’ve got to change your life.”
That may seem obvious, paradoxical, or even ridiculous, but it is a truism. You must sincerely ask yourself what you are doing to change your life.
Many people try to use visualization to imagine the life they want, but often, they find it a chore because there is too much everyday reality to deal with that more than overrides a few minutes of visualization. I am not saying that visualization is not a useful tool. It absolutely is. But there is something else that you can do in addition to visualizing the attainment of your goals. There is an easier way to get started in changing your life. You can use your perception of the here and now to your advantage in changing your life rather than fighting with it.
What we perceive through our five senses sends a powerful message to our minds, both the conscious and subconscious. Everyday reality, especially if it remains more or less the same, is constantly reinforcing to us what is, whether it is the job we have, the place we’re living in, the people we associate with, whether good or bad. We are slaves of routine. We may want change, but most of us are giving ourselves more of the same every single day. So if we are going to be slaves of routine, why not recreate our routines that will serve us in achieving our goals?
A change in environment is a powerful way to change our perception of what is. Consider vacations. Often when someone goes on vacation, it changes their perception which changes their point of view. Most people relax, some people become more tense, but everyone comes back a little different than when they left. However, after a few days of the old routine, most of the changes in perspective and perception that the vacation initiated become so submerged by the present reality that people who felt stuck before are feeling stuck once again, particularly when the have to pay—weeks later—the debts they incurred as a result of the vacation.
So how can we change all of this? I repeat the axiom: In order to change your life, you’ve got to change your life. And by changing your environment, you will change your perception of reality; and by changing your perception of reality, you will change your perspective; and by changing your perspective, you will change your life. The changes do not have to be earth shattering, as long as they are moving in the direction that you want your life to go, then it is a positive change, even if growing pains such as resistance from yourself or others occur.
Changing your environment can mean a lot of things. It could mean massive changes such as starting or ending relationships, jobs, or moving. But I am not going to discuss such massive upheavals in this article. The environmental changes that I am recommending as a great starting place for changing your life is to purge.
By a purge I mean for you to take stock of your home environment and to try to visualize the way you would want it to look. This type of visualization is a lot easier than ones where you are living a completely different lifestyle because you already have the “ingredients” for this visualization right in front of you.
Most people are attached to things that no longer serve an active purpose for them. Many people will not part with something if it cost a lot of money at the time of purchase even if it no longer works, like old clocks and watches, broken toasters and old computers and electronics. Some people keep things just in case, such as old can openers, clock radios that don’t work properly, old board games, VCRs they don’t use, stuffed toy animals, old cell phones, books that they will likely never open again.
Many people form deep sentimental attachment to objects, so could never part with gifts, however inappropriate, or items bought with loved ones etc.
Whatever items you chose to keep should be consistent with the way you wish to view yourself and the direction you want your life to take.
If you have no idea of where to start with your purge and don’t know how to part with your possessions or clean up your environment, here are some ideas that might jumpstart you. Focus on what you want to keep rather than what you want to eliminate. Once you know what to keep, decide to eliminate the rest. Here are some methods you can use to consider what to keep.
Consider if you were moving, but could only carry a carload of items. What would you take with you?
Consider if a natural disaster were imminent and you had to evacuate your home (which may be destroyed or looted), what would you take?
And the most extreme: Imagine if your place were on fire, what (other than loved ones) would you grab on your way out the door?
For odds and ends that you don’t really use and can be replace for five dollars or less, be ruthless in eliminating them. For items that you have not used in a year, be also ruthless in removing these.
The concept to really grasp here is that every single item that is in your environment is something that you are clinging to because—at a conscious or subconscious level—these items serve a purpose. However, the truth is that the purpose many of these items serve is to keep you stuck in your existing thought patterns. So, once again, I state, in order to change your life, you’ve got to change your life.
Simplifying your environment to achieve greater clarity is the purpose of a purge. You throw away, give away, or sell items (e.g. garage sale or Ebay) that no longer serve you. When you give others an opportunity to gain enjoyment from items that you are basically hording, you are telling the universe that you are ready to move on and change, and you are also sending a signal to yourself (and the universe) that you realize that the universe is abundant: It will provide you all that you need, and you can dispense with hording things that you don’t need. Simplifying your environment allows you to start with a relatively blank slate and creates a perceptual environment where it is now easier to conceive new possibilities and to take your life in a new direction—one that you control rather than one that controls you.
The act of purging is incredibly empowering because you are taking positive action to change, and taking stock of your belongings will often remind you of things about yourself and your past ambitions that you have let fall to the wayside for more seemingly pragmatic concerns. Perhaps it’s time to rekindle those ambitions.
A purge does not have to be a massive job that you have to book time off work to do. It can be small and gradual. It could be habituated by setting new routines, like spending five minutes a day looking for items to throw away or donate, or having the goal of filling a box each month with items to donate.
A purge is not license to shop. The idea is to simplify your environment to know which new direction you want to move your life in. But if new clothes or furniture is part of your new vision of your life then (hopefully) shop with purpose.
It is not necessary to consult with a Feng Shui practitioner, but doing so could prove to be a beneficial activity since he/she will help to organize your environment for optimal harmony and Chi flow.