Last week we discussed the beginning stages of decluttering our lives. We paid attention to our values, tolerations and began to focus on decluttering much of the junk that has accumulated in our homes. This week, we would like to challenge you to take the declutter theme to another level as we focus on letting go of people and dreams that no longer serve a function in our lives.
Decluttering relationships is one of the most difficult challenges we face. These could be people you have known for many years, family members, professional relationships, and even friends. The key in this step is to assess how these individuals make you feel. Do you feel like you receive value and meaning from the relationship? Are they relationships that bring you great joy when you give to another in need (like a child or elderly family member or mentee)? Or are they relationships that leave you feeling upset and angry or even with a nagging sense that something is not right? Perhaps they leave you feeling stressed, unable to focus at times, or just worn out? Let’s go through a process to determine whether the relationship still makes sense in your life.
We change as individuals every 5-6 years. Before we even dive into the relationship assessment, it’s important to know this. Our interests evolve and the things we may have had in common with someone are no longer there. Ask yourself if your relationship has grown in a similar direction or if you have grown in different directions. If the answer is in different directions, does the other person’s growth inspire you? If not, then it may be time to declutter the relationship.
How does this person make us feel? Once we understand that our interests may have changed and the other person may no longer inspire us, determine if you still want to try a relationship with this person based on how the relationship makes you feel. If the person is kind, warm and loving then the answer is most likely yes. But if the person is fixated on outdoing you, doesn’t listen to you, or incites negative emotions in you after most conversations, then the answer may be no.
Do your own internal work. If you determine that you do still want to give the relationship a shot, see if doing your own internal work can help you achieve a better connection with this person. For example, if this person often mentions their material possessions and it incites envy and discomfort in you, could you work on gratitude for the things in your life? Or if the person often talks about their child’s outstanding test scores and it make you feel uncomfortable, could you instead focus on praising your child’s effort and appreciating his or her unique gifts.
If you feel like there is a chance to have a good relationship with this person after working on your insecurities, put some temporary distance between the two of you while you do the necessary work. Explain that you have a busy next few months coming up or just limit interactions. If you have to interact, keep it strictly business or send a text.
Give the relationship another try. After some time, distance, and your own work gently ease back into the relationship to see if it feels different. Did you miss them? Do you feel happier seeing them again? If you feel like you can have a fulfilling, meaningful relationship going forward, congratulations! You just strengthened yourself by recognizing your own insecurities and put in the effort to evolve and grow. If a touchy topic comes up in the future, try gently steering it in a different direction.
On the other hand, if the relationship still leaves you feeling upset and uncomfortable after doing your own work for a few months, that’s okay too. It means that you have grown as an individual and know that this relationship is not a good fit for you anymore. It’s time to declutter.
Wish the person well. When it’s officially time to break up with someone, no matter what type of relationship, wish them well. Send them on their journey by wishing them happiness and fulfillment, as we discussed in Part II of Abundance Mindset: How You Can Start Building Yours. All too often these people suffer in their own ways and we just can’t see it. But that doesn’t mean that we have to stay in a friendship or relationship with them. We may mourn the relationship after it ends and tend to remember only the good, but make sure you remind yourself of all the effort you put into the relationship too and how after all of your effort it still left you feeling upset.
If you must communicate, try to do so via infrequent text only. But if that is even too much for you, in the case of a toxic relationship or relative, you can try blocking their phone number. We understand that this can be a very hard, emotional process. But one of the best things you can do is to put your shield on first to protect yourself!
Sometimes we develop dreams in our youth and young adult years that we continue to carry with us through life. But what happens if life circumstances change and these dreams no longer make sense? If we don’t learn how to declutter these dreams, and keep hanging on to them, they can be a great source of stress for us.
There are a few ways we can approach a dream to determine if it still makes sense in our life. Before we embark on these steps, here is a real life example from Von of a dream she realized she needed to let go. Have a listen and feel free to use the handy worksheet as you go through the below steps.
And the handy worksheet…
Ask yourself how your life has changed over the years. When you first created your dream did you have children? Now that you are a mother, does that dream still make sense for your family? Perhaps this dream made sense for your old life but doesn’t fit well in your current life.
Determine what trade-offs you would need to make in order to make your dream come true. For example, if you dream of a prestigious career, what sacrifices would have to be made to get there while you have young children? Are you willing to make those sacrifices? Or if like Von, you dream of moving to the city and out of suburbia with kids, how would this affect your family? What would it mean for your finances and school situation? Think about your unique dream and its implication in your life.
Will your dream make sense at a different point in your life? Is it possible to put your dream on hold? If you dream of a prestigious career and determine that it would require too much time away from your children, would it make sense to pursue that dream when your children are older or off at college even? Or in Von’s case, could she move to the city when her daughter is out of the house? Think about whether or not it makes sense to postpone the urgency of your dream.
If you believe that your dream only makes sense right now, how can you shift your life to make it happen? Do those shifts fit your values? As mentioned in previous articles, MK has held a dream of owning a single family home sense childhood. She loves architecture and has a weakness for colonials and white houses with black shutters and big front porches. Her dream will not make much sense when her children are grown and no longer living at home. But in order to make this dream come true in the next few years in her HCOL area, she would need to go back to work full-time while her children are young, her husband would need to take a different job with much longer hours and higher pay, or they would need to move out of their school district. Given that quality time as a family and quality education with an international focus are really important to her family, they are not willing to make those shifts in order to own MK’s dream home. So in this case, it makes sense for her to declutter this dream.
Can you use your dream as an outline rather than a rigid set in stone goal to attain? Using MK’s dream example, could she make her dream more general, such as the dream of owning any type of home… like a condo or townhome, rather than a set in stone 2 story colonial or white house with black shutters? Using Von’s dream of living in the city, could she live in a suburban area that has great walkability and public transportation in order to have the space she needs for her family?
We like to think that we have control over making our dreams a reality, but in actuality there are many contributing factors, especially if we have a family. We have to consider our spouse and children’s needs, we have to consider that the universe may just be saying no. We have to remember that the world is in a constant state of flux and change and what may seem to make sense right now would not be good for us in a few years.
***If you need extra assistance defining your dreams and honing in on the ones that make the most sense in your life, we’ve found a great solution. BESTSELF.Co, one of our new affiliates, has an excellent productivity and goal setting journal. Designed to keep you focused on what matters most to you and reach your goals, we feel that their SELF Journal is the perfect tool for busy moms. Because Von loves the journal so much, she has worked with BESTSELF.Co to offer our readers 15% off any purchase. Follow the link here to view their suite of journals, project planners, habit makers, and more. Use promo code mompoweredlife (altogether and lowercase) at checkout to receive 15% off your purchase.***
One of the best ways to declutter an old dream is to genuinely thank your dream before letting it go. This may sound strange, but your dream has taught you a lot about yourself. Thank it for teaching you what you value most in your life. Thank it for helping you live your life according to your most important values. Then focus on all of the wonderful, beautiful gifts you have in your life. Focus on all of the dreams that have come true.
In MK’s case, she might say, “Thank you beautiful single family house dream for helping me realize that you represent my value of family. Thank you for helping me pull closer to my family and savor my time with them. Thank you for helping me realize that quality time is the most precious thing in my life.” Then she would focus on a daily gratitude practice that allows her to remember all of the gifts in her life and focus less on what she lacks.
Focusing on the gifts we have been given and replacing the things that we want with gratefulness for the things we already have is a practice we must do daily. Gratitude is like a muscle that needs daily exercise in order to stay strong. Consider it brain and heart training for being a happier more fulfilled person.
This concludes our declutter your life series. We hope you’ve found our tips helpful and can start using them to free up more physical and emotional space in your own life.