S05|05 - Minimalism: 3 Tips from my Marie Kondo JourneyAug 15, 2022
A decluttered space can declutter the mind… and vice versa. That is where I found myself 6 years ago… deep in the throes of parenting, late nights, diapers and laundry. I felt like I spent most of my time cleaning, doing laundry or nagging my kids to get their own chores done. That’s when the shift came… one of those lightbulb moments that forever changes the way you see things.
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What we discuss today:
- Practical Minimalism vs Mind Minimalism and how they are connected
- My journey in minimalism and how I found Marie Kondo’s work
- 3 ways we can use the concept of minimalism to clean out our minds and our homes
- The importance of minimalism, and my why
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So, welcome to today's episode, Minimalism: 3 Tips from my Marie Kondo Journey.
Practical Minimalism vs Mind Minimalism and how they are connected
So, I'm going to tell you a lot about my journey that's been ongoing for the last several years, but the difference about this episode is that I'm not just going to be talking about Practical Minimalism.
Practical Minimalism is the actual process of decluttering, getting rid of things – leaving a lot more space in your physical space.
But I'm also going to be talking about what I call Mind Minimalism, which is exactly the same thing, but inside you – inside your brain, inside your soul; and that is creating a lot less clutter…decluttering all of it and leaving a lot more mental space, a lot more soul space.
So, I'm going to be talking about both of these. This is a question that I get asked often, is on Minimalism; it comes up in conversation regularly. So, I wanted to talk about my Minimalism journey, but it has been mirrored by my Mind Minimalism journey; and the two are very interconnected, not just for me, but for my clients, and I would guess for you listeners as well.
My journey in Minimalism and how I found Marie Kondo’s work
So, tune in to hear all about that. If you don't know who Marie Kondo is, she has an awesome book, The Magical Art of Tidying Up; you can go check it out and read it, if you would like to. I was part of a Book Club-- This was so long ago, I'm trying to remember the year, but I'm guessing it was like six years ago-ish.
And I had already been a little bit into Minimalism, so I'd already…I liked to declutter, I did it regularly, and I had been having a poll for a change. So, Marie Kondo wasn't my first step into Minimalism; I had already read some other articles, watched some other little videos, heard other people's situations and stories.
So, I'd already started my process before I found her and her book. But as we read this book together and studied it as a Book Club and had these conversations, it really helped spark kind of a deeper dive into Minimalism and really doing it in a different way.
One of the things I noticed was that it's different than decluttering…in that, decluttering is more like, what do I want to get rid of? What's broken? What's old? What do we not really use anymore? What do we want to get rid of?
And one of the bigger shifts between that and Minimalism was it is, what do I want to keep? You're not looking for just things that you just want to get rid of – but you're like, what of these are useful? What of these are powerful? What of these are helpful? What of these do I love? And which ones of these things am I going to keep? And then getting rid of everything else.
The importance of minimalism, and my why
So, it's a different mindset shift than just decluttering; I've been decluttering for years and felt like I was continuously decluttering all the time. You might be able to relate to this, but I don't feel this way anymore.
So yeah, I'm excited to share my journey with you. A little bit of my journey has to do with my why. Actually, a lot bit of my journey has to do with my why. And my why was I really wanted to spend more time building relationships.
Relationships have always been like the most important thing to me for as long as I can remember; I loved hanging out with my friends, I love spending time with my family – and I wanted to have really good fulfilling relationships.
And to me, fulfilling is like; I want to be with them, I want to spend time with them, we enjoy each other's company, we like being around each other. And I found myself in this situation where I'd built this beautiful home and I loved everything about it, but it was big.
It was bigger than anything we'd lived in before. It was full of a bunch of stuff, more stuff than we'd had before. And I felt like I was either cleaning all day, also constantly behind, like never on top of the cleaning…or yelling at the kids to do their chores, which they were often not doing or getting mad at them for making a mess while I was cleaning. Maybe you can relate to all of this.
I also noticed that I would clean maybe like one floor and have it looking really good, and then the next day go down to the next floor and be like, 'Oh, well, now this is going to take like all week because it's a disaster or whatever.'
It just felt like this continuous collecting stuff, taking care of stuff…worrying about stuff, worrying about stuff being everywhere. And I really felt like the weight of it, not just physical, but mental weight of it, was really weighing down my personal relationships and I really didn't want that.
So, the very first article I read – I cannot even recall the name of it that had to do with Minimalism – the man kind of talked a little bit about this in his article; and he was just like, "Yeah, I didn't want to always be taking care of stuff and thinking about stuff, I wanted to be spending time living life and spending time with people that I loved". And that's really what resonated with me.
At that point, I don't think I had verbalized like that that's what the problem was. I just knew that I was frustrated with this constant barrage of like mess, and not feeling like I was on top of it.
And when I heard him explain that, it just like-- You know one of those soul moments where it just like hits your soul? Some people call it like 'core memories' where you're just like reading and you're like, it just speaks to you; you just know that that's you, and I just felt that way.
Maybe you are feeling that way right now and feeling like, 'Yes, all of this resonates'… and 'Yes, I do want this change'. And, I'm going to-- I'm going to give you some tips on how to make that change from a mindset perspective as well.
But for me, it really looked like deciding then that my why was more important than how long it was going to take or all the physical stuff that I had collected or whatever. Like that my why was so important to my why of relationships being above everything else.
No matter how long this took or how long this process was or how difficult it was that like, that was more important than the other things. And so, I decided to go for it and do it. So, that's what started my journey.
I continued to read little articles. I think there was even a documentary that had come out. I followed some pages on Facebook and, kind of, got some information. I didn't spend a lot of time like consuming that, but I kind of was like, 'Yep, this is the vibe that I'm going to go for this is what I'm going to do'.
And so, I'll share a little bit about my journey and then I'm going to share about three tips that I learned through the Marie Kondo process. But for my journey, I read a little bits here and there. I wasn't so specific to do it, like, exactly the step and exactly the step as she lays out on the book – but it generally did do that.
And so, I would go, maybe decide to do all of my clothes or decide to do all of my kids' clothes, and I would start with that one category and then I would like dump everything out and sort through it and everything.
So, we're going to talk about how that relates to also our mind. But I want to tell you that it does work, it did work.
I was a little bit nervous about getting rid of those things. And so, a quick tip for you is if you're nervous like me, I would keep like a big garbage bag or whatever in the closet full of all the stuff that I was going to donate…and I would just have it there in the closet.
And I kept it there for a few months just to see like, 'Am I actually okay with getting rid of this? Like, am I going to worry about it and come back to it and want it?' And I never opened it again. I ended up just getting rid of it. So, that really worked well for me.
3 ways we can use the concept of Minimalism to clean out our minds and our homes
But I'm going to talk about three tips that work really well, and how they relate to working on Mind Minimalism. The tips that work for Practical Minimalism also work for Mind Minimalism, which I think is awesome.
One of the things that I noticed about myself and I've noticed in my clients too, is that when their physical space is very cluttered, it often relates to their mental space…their mental space is usually pretty cluttered too.
And vice versa; if our mental space is cluttered, our physical space is often cluttered.
So, when I think about Minimalism, I think about it like holistically. It's not just my-- It's not just my physical space, but maybe it's also my relationships. Maybe it's also my relationship with myself. Maybe it's also my mind and my soul, and all of that together. So, there's a lot, kind of, going on when I personally think about Minimalism.
So, here's the three tips.
1. Dump: Picking up one object at a time and sorting them
Number one, I call it dump, but she says to put everything out in front of you and to go by category. So, like I did where I was like, I'm going to go do all of my clothes; you can even go by subcategories. So, not just all of my clothes, but like…all of my tops, and then all of my pants, and then all of my accessories – so everything's kind of separated into subcategory.
But what you're going to do is dump it all out, and you're going to pick up one object at a time. So, you're going to decide object-by-object. So, instead of just deciding like, 'Okay, what am I going to get rid of?'
You're like, 'No, I'm going to dump everything out…I'm going to see all of the clothes that I own in one space at a time, and then I'm going to go through it one by one-by-one-by-one.'
Now, the importance of doing this is that you can see it all. You can see like the weight of it all and you're like, 'Wow, this really is a lot.' And also, just sorting it out one-by-one is super, super helpful.
Now, when I teach my clients this process in their mind, about Mind Minimalism, I tell them that it gets messier before it gets cleaner.
And isn't that always the case? When you're going through and cleaning any room, doesn't it feel like it gets a lot messier first? You like pull all the things out of the closet you didn't see were there, and then there's some stuff under the bed, and there's some stuff in the corners of the room.
And by the time you have this like pile on the floor, it looks a lot worse. Like it sort of looks like you haven't done anything – but really you have, that's the process of Mind Minimalism as well.
It might get a little bit messy. Your relationships might feel a little bit messier for a while. Your brain might feel a little bit messier for a while. Sometimes people feel like, 'You know, things are going really well…I have a pretty good self-concept…like I'm feeling pretty good about life.'
And we're just going from good to great; we're just upleveling, right? But as we start to sort through these things, we might notice like, 'Oh, there's a little bit more there than I thought there was', as we're dumping it out. And that's totally part of the process.
So, number one, picking out one object at a time, that's Practical Minimalism.
How Practical Minimalism can be incorporated to Mind Minimalism
How this can be incorporated to Mind Minimalism is we're doing the same process with our thoughts and beliefs. Thoughts and beliefs are words or sentences going through our mind; that's all they are.
We want to actually physically take them out. We're not just going to be thinking about them; we're going to be taking them outside of ourselves and looking at them, just like we did with all of those quotes.
What this is going to look like is taking out a piece of paper and a pen – or maybe you want to like verbally do it on an audio, speaking it out and then reading it back on some sort of an app.
However, you want to do that – but it's important to get it out of your mind and onto a page because when you can see it all out there, you're like, 'Oh wow, there was actually more than I thought'.
You can see the physical weight of it, and then we can start to sort through those objects one at a time. So, this is a really important process.
How tidy by category relates to Mind Minimalism
Another little tip here that she talks about is to tidy by category. So, how that relates to Mind Minimalism is maybe we're not just like going to dump out all the thoughts we've ever had about everything in life.
Maybe we decide that there's something specific we want to work on. So, this could be a specific goal. This could even be Minimalism, like how you think about your house and all of the objects that are in your house. This could be a specific relationship…maybe with your partner, maybe with one of your kids, maybe with a mother-in-law or a sister.
Like, what is there that you really want to work on? It can be anything; it can be parenting…and you don't have to suck at it to have it, work done, right? It can be going pretty good, but maybe you just want it to go from good to great; that's totally fine. So, however, there's so many aspects of our lives, right?
We're complex-- We're complex little humans. So, just pick one area and decide to tidy that by category. So, I'm going to use an example because I do parenting, right, of a parent-child relationship.
So, maybe there's one child in your life that you feel like you have a little bit harder time maybe connecting with or relating to or parenting…maybe they feel just a little bit more triggering or something about them feels just a little bit more challenging.
Maybe it's a teenager or maybe it's a toddler – or maybe you're an adult and you're working with an adult child, and you're struggling with that relationship. And it doesn't necessarily need to be a struggle; it can just be like, there's some challenges coming up here that I don't quite know what to deal with.
So, you're going to write down the person's name at the top of the piece of paper, and then you're going to dump out all of your thoughts about that person; you're just going to allow yourself to write.
There's no judgment, just like there's no judgment when you're cleaning out your room; you're just like dumping it all out, dumping it all out. You're not like, 'Man, I can't believe I have so much stuff, and this is terrible…and this is going to take forever.' I mean, sometimes our brain does that, but we're just going to allow all of those thoughts out on the page.
We're not going to be judging it like, 'Well, I shouldn't be thinking that'…'Well, that's silly', or 'There's another way for me to think about this'. We can do that later, but right now we're just dumping it all out. No judgment.
It's like stream of consciousness, right? What comes in, is just going down – and again, by category – you can even do it by subcategory.
So, what this would look like in a parent-child relationship is maybe I write my child's name at the top of the page and then maybe I write a specific situation that happened.
Or maybe one question that comes up for me all the time is digital time; how to monitor teenagers' digital time, how to teach them screen regulation, how to help them have a healthy relationship with screens – also, knowing that there's dangers out there. All of those things, right?
So, maybe you pick one specific topic – within that parent-child relationship, within that specific child – and you write that on the top of the page…and then again, you just dump out all your thoughts.
So, that's number one; picking up one object at a time – AKA dump, and then pick them up, right? Dump and sort.
2. Does this spark joy?
Going with sorting, number two is…does this spark joy? If you've heard of Marie Kondo at all, you've probably heard this phrase because it's something that people talk about a lot.
But she encourages you to pick up every single…or physically touch every single object and ask yourself, does this spark joy? So, when I did this for me, this was where that shift came from.
Like, this isn't just decluttering…I'm not just getting rid of things that are broken and old and used and aren't mine and I don't want anymore – but also, does this actually spark joy? Is this something that I love to put on? Is this an object that I love to have in my house that I really want to keep taking care of?
So, there's a lot of kind of questions that go in there with that, does this spark joy? And I love the idea of like physically touching it, right? We're holding it, we're looking at objectively; and we're really taking intentional time for each object to decide like, does this spark joy?
When I think of that, I think of, does this feel good? How do I feel wearing this outfit or having this object in my office? Does it make me feel joyful? Do I like how I show up in the world with this?
So, when it comes to Mind Minimalism, it's the same thing. We're going to go through each of those objects, an object being that belief or that thought that you just wrote down.
You're going to probably have a page full of them now and you're going to go through them one-by-one, and you're going to-- It's like taking that little thought, that little belief and holding it in your hand…and asking yourself, "Does this spark joy?"
Now, this might look like some of our thoughts might be things like, 'I shouldn't have acted that way', or 'I don't like how I showed up', or 'I can't figure this out', or 'This is too hard', or 'I don't know what to do here'.
And maybe some of the thoughts are, 'I think I can figure this out…maybe this child is meant to be going through this thing, and maybe I'm the one that can help them through it – maybe I do know the answer.' So, some thoughts might spark joy; they might feel hopeful, they might feel useful.
What I like to think about is like, is it as an outfit? Because when we put on outfits – you probably know how this feels – but you put an outfit that you really like, you feel really good in it, right? You're feeling a little bit more confident. Maybe you just feel a little bit happier; you like look at it and you're like, 'Oh, I just love this, it's so comfortable.'
That might not just be how it looks, but, like, you just love it; it feels comfortable, it feels good, and you like how you show up in the world wearing that outfit. Well, the same goes for these thoughts or these beliefs. You're like putting it on and you're like, how do I show up in the world with this? Do I really like this? Does it really spark joy?
When I think of a difference between the thought and a belief; a thought, it just randomly comes into your mind. It's like just any word, any sentence that comes into your brain. But sometimes we have those thoughts over and over and over and over again until they take root, until they're a belief.
So, it's like planting a garden, and there might be some seeds that kind of just like float away; this actually just happened to us. So, we were like planting a garden, and I could not figure out why the carrots never grew…like, we kept watering them. The potatoes, just like huge; they all took root…we have these huge potato plants, and the carrots didn't work at all – they all just blew away.
We have thoughts like that too, right? We have the thoughts that just blow away in the wind, that just come and then just go. But then we have the thoughts that really take root…that are like those potato plants where they're just like luscious, and now they're like green everywhere.
And I love looking at them because they look so beautiful. We're going to be able to get potatoes from the any day now; they're just looking awesome. Those are beliefs.
And so, we're looking at each of those beliefs, right? Because some of them might not feel so good, right? The idea that like, I don't know how to handle this – or I'm not quite sure how to deal with this one child, ever…we don't have a great relationship or they don't want to spend time with me.
Those might feel really true. They might have taken root; they might have grown into this big potato plant and you might really believe them, and they also might not spark joy. They might not be ones where we like how we show up when we have that.
One of the ways to check in with this is to go back to think, feel, do; the way I think creates how I feel, that fuels what I do.
So, if I'm been having a thought like, my child or my teen doesn't want to spend time with me, maybe I'm feeling disconnected or discouraged, how do I show up with that emotion in the world?
Maybe I don't take time to have as many conversations with them. Maybe when they are conversing with me, I'm just thinking of like my retort to them in my brain and I'm not really listening to understand.
Maybe even just in my body language, my facial expressions towards that child are different because I'm feeling disconnected or discouraged, right? So, how am I showing up in the world? Does this spark joy?
So, you can go through in this process also as you're sorting through them, and you can be questioning more than just, does this spark joy? How do I show up in the world? Is this factually true? Is there another way to think about this story?
There's always another way to think about a story. Our thoughts are all to do with our perception; our perception of ourselves and the world around us, there's so much more going on there.
So, if we could just step outside of ourselves and think, 'Well, how would my teen think about this situation? How would my child, my tween think about this situation?' Like, it doesn't matter what age your child is, just be stepping outside of yourself and questioning these beliefs that you have.
As far as Practical Minimalism, pretty obvious, pick it up, does this spark joy? Right? Do I want to keep it? Is it broken? Is it old? Is it used? Is it even mine? And that's how you can sort through those things. So, dump and then sort.
3. Gratitude for our belongings
And number three, the third tip that I learned from Marie Kondo is gratitude for our belongings.
So, maybe you pick up a purse and you're like, 'I loved this purse and I haven't used it in years, and it doesn't spark joy anymore'…but at one time it did and it was useful, and I'm going to just say thank you to it.
I remember reading this part and being like, 'This is a little weird, I don't know if I totally jive with this', but I actually found it kind of useful to look at it and be like, 'Yeah, I am grateful for this…like, this was helpful'.
And so, just having that gratitude for it and then releasing it, right? Gratitude and release. And I love the idea of releasing it back into the world. I love to donate things because I feel good about like, then somebody else can then use it. Like, this was useful for me for a time and now maybe I can donate it to somebody else and maybe it'll be useful for them.
Or maybe I give it to my siblings or to my friends so that I can see their kids wearing the cute little clothes that my kids used to wear. And it just feels like this cycle, also so much more sustainable, as far as eco-friendly living goes.
How gratitude for belongings relates to Practical Minimalism or to Mind Minimalism
So, let's go back to number three, the gratitude for belongings, and how that relates to Practical Minimalism or to Mind Minimalism. Sometimes we have a thought that feels really stuck and we're not really sure how to shift too much, and we're also feeling a lot of shame and judgment towards it.
Like, 'I shouldn't be thinking that, I shouldn't have thought that.' Like, 'That's so silly.' Like, 'I know that that's not useful, but I still have it.'
And so, it can be helpful for us to have that gratitude too and just be like, 'Yeah, maybe this thought was keeping me safe.'
Now, you might be asking yourself, how could a "negative thought" keep me safe? Well, our Primitive Brain or our lower brain is meant to keep us both emotionally and physically safe.
So, maybe I'm walking down a dark alley late at night and my brain's going off like, 'Oh, there might be this sound over here…Oh, this might be dangerous,' right? Like, I want my brain to tell me that it's a dangerous situation so that I can like be prepared, right?
But our brain goes a little bit hog wild and is like, 'We're going to do this emotionally also, we don't want to be emotionally in pain…and so, maybe like, don't say that weird word or maybe like, don't look this way or whatever, do this other thing.'
It might be shifting and shaping how we're responding to things, and how we're acting because it's trying to keep us safe. But we also have this prefrontal cortex where we're different than other species, where we can actually think about our thoughts.
The skill of thinking about your thoughts is only a skill that humans can do. So, we're taking those thoughts that our Primitive Brain is offering us and now we're looking at them, and we're like, 'Thank you brain for keeping me safe, thank you brain for giving me this thought that maybe helped me somehow…that maybe kept me safe somehow when I was younger, when I was a child or in the past.'
But now I can release it. Now I can move on to something new, and something more-- And doesn't that feel so much better than having so much shame and guilt and judgment that we had that thought in the first place…that we even had that belief in our thought closet that we didn't know about?
It feels so much more peaceful. And then we have the opportunity just to release it; and the releasing can come after we've done through the dumping and out, and the sorting through it, and questioning…and like looking at it.
So, I would encourage you to do this, I call it a Thought Dump. So, I would encourage you just to try it and see how it works, see how it changes your relationships, and reach out to me and let me know how it works.
And again, make sure that you checked out Parent School, if you are in that time. And if not, then I look forward to just connecting with you through Instagram and the podcast; and maybe we'll work together in the future.
I hope this podcast episode has been so helpful for you. If there are any other topics that you would like me to address that you're really interested in hearing about, I would love for you to reach out to me either email (Crystal, CoachCrystal.ca – that’s C-R-Y-S-T-A-L) or on Instagram. And have a great week.
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