Do you know what a capsule wardrobe is? Several years ago, I was first introduced to this concept with the basic idea to clean out my closet of all the items I neither wear nor love and to pair it down to items that feel nothing less than awesome on me. This way, whenever I open my closet to choose an outfit, it is no longer overwhelming and discouraging but easy and delightful. Cutting down my closet and creating seasonal “uniforms” also began to save me loads of time. I used to rummage through what seemed like an endless pile of clothes I didn’t even feel good in and now, it is easy to find something to wear because 1) my closet is so slimmed down and 2) I love everything in it.
I have always been somewhat of a minimalist. I love to own and live with less. I love things simple because life is challenging enough. I do not hold on to things because I may “eventually need it”. Of course, there is always something that piles up: books but I have gotten a lot better about his one, too. As Mari Kondo would say: Keep everything that sparks joy.
My recent move to Vienna helped me to clear out more space in my home and consequently my life. Moving from one country to another does that. You should try it. Whenever I have visitors, they usually compliment the tasteful style and cleanliness of my home, especially since I live with my 6-year-old. My final and most indefatigable challenge to date has been letting go of relationships and commitments that clutter my life. You see, I love(d) pleasing people. I had the opposite belief that the more I said “yes” to every commitment that was offered to me and every person that came into my life, the happier and more lovable I would be. It turned out, that this is not a good thing to do because extreme people-pleasing lead me to burnout, where I wouldn’t have the energy to do anything for myself anymore.
And then…. I had a child.
I was no longer able to sustain my level of commitment to other activities and relationships that were clearly not aligned with my authentic code, meaning, activities and relationships that drained instead of energized me. I took mothering to a different level. I wanted to be perfect. Better than all the helicopter moms. I said yes to all the playdates because doing so, I believed, is a moral imperative. This was so useless and isn’t it true that energy flows where attention goes?
I have been unraveling myself from this false and destructive belief the past few years and especially this past year, trying to figure out where it comes from and why I am so beholden to it. I realized through self-reflection that it was not just a people-pleasing tendency and a desire to be loved. It also derives from the cultural values I was raised with. This guilt would even keep me in romantic relationships/marriage way past their prime. A lot of work was required to overturn and reroute my entrenched beliefs and invite me to a completely alternative way of living which is to receive my life as a gift to experience joy instead of as a test to see if I will pass.
These past months have been momentous for me and a true testament to how far I have come. When I clear space, any kind of space, in my home or in my internal life, I then create space for my authentic self to shine; to finally pursue that which is truly aligned with my desires. And, unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans. As soon as I let go of those items, people and commitments that are not aligned with my true desires, gifts, and personhood, I not only clear more space for that which I truly do want to come through, my “trash” usually end up becoming somebody else’s gold. I had this feeling that I need to maintain this commitment to please others but the truth is, it is a disservice. Others can sense when your heart isn’t invested. I began living according to my authentic self, instead of settling for so much less than I am worth.
This helped me: 1) Breathe. 2) Follow the impulse. 3)Tell
The challenge is to have an intimate and caring relationship with every part of yourself, not just those parts you like. My emotions usually move me in the direction in which I need to go. They direct me toward health and fulfilment or they move me aways from the wrong track. Stress and burnout feeling does not come from outside sources. It is created from my incorrect beliefs and my misinterpretations. Where love dwells, fear cannot.
If you are not ready to let go of a commitment you know does not serve you or clean out your entire closet, just start small. Clean out your sock drawer. Well, you can do that.