Liberate Yourself!

Every aspect of your life is energetically anchored in your living space, so clearing clutter can transform your entire existence.

—Karen Kingston

Clutter can show up in your physical space, as thorns in your heart, or activities you no longer love doing. The belongings can hold emotional stories that you struggle to resolve. You may think that you are your past and all the objects associated with your past. They may have wonderful associations or heartbreaking meanings, but these belongings are not you. They tell stories about who you were, but they aren’t you.

Sometimes it seems easier to stay connected to things than to people. Things seem to have staying power and people can, in a moment, disappear from our lives. Like a child clinging to a stuffed animal, we can make a deeper emotional investment in inanimate objects than people. These objects usually don’t talk, yell, rage, cry, bully, cruelly shame us, or walk away. Some creepy dolls might speak, but even then it’s not in all the ways a human being can.

This may be why some people cling so fiercely to books, furniture, knick-knacks, artwork, collectibles, and all those boxes. Our emotional world sometimes collapses into these inanimate belongings because creating meaningful connections with people seems too risky. It might be easier to hold a book than someone’s hand. We avert our eyes from people but look for a long time at a piece of artwork or our cell phones.

Your heart can be healed from all those thorns. Gently pull them out and feel all those difficult emotions. Emotions can show you what you actually care about. You wouldn’t have all these feelings if you weren’t committed to something or someone. The intensity of your grief, anger, or shame often points to the depth of your commitment, your love, and your desire to belong.

It’s soul-sucking and exhausting to go through the motions of an activity you no longer love doing or maybe never really enjoyed. You may have been really good at it. You do it to fit in and to not disappoint others who benefit from your talents and abilities. And those people may really care, respect, and appreciate you or not so much. Either way, you notice that your heart is not on board. Your heart stands on the beach with a towel, while your body swims fiercely in the waves longing to be on solid ground. It might be time to reunite with your heart and rest in the sand.

It takes courage to connect to people in a time of much change and uncertainty. It takes bravery to let go of belongings and activities that no longer support our lives.

We can begin to gently clear away all of this and bring discernment and new awareness to what or with whom we connect. Feng shui invites us to have empowering connections to things, thoughts, people, and experiences. It may be time to be brave and open space for fresh adventures.

Sometimes a deep desire to be unencumbered brings inspiration to fuel us. We can walk through an obstacle course to make it happen.

Powerful action requires a reframe of our past stories, clarity about what we really desire for our lives, and the commitment to make it happen no matter what. These actions also may require us to shift out of a sense of powerlessness and into one of being able to respond, to take full responsibility. Taking action requires becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable as we stretch and grow. It involves taking risks and walking with our fear and our passion. It’s uncomfortable stepping into an uncertain future without boxes and belongings and that soul-sucking relationship or job or activity. Sometimes a deep desire to be unencumbered brings inspiration to fuel us. We can walk through an obstacle course to make it happen. Clearing clutter can become a labor of love, a passionate stand for clarity, and an “Oh, what the heck nothing else has worked, I’ll go for it anyway!”

What would it be like to be as close to clutter-free as you can be? Can you begin to imagine the open space, time, freedom, less burdened heart, and a clearer mind? What would have you jump out of bed in the morning or have you so excited that you could hardly fall asleep at night? What do you love doing or creating more than anything else in the world? Your heart often holds the truth about what this purpose or project is. Listen closely to your heart. It won’t lead you astray.

When our actions are a contribution to a cause more important than our self-doubts, we swiftly act. We rise to the occasion of being generous when we know that our contributions make a positive difference for others. We will do what it takes.

Know that clearing away what no longer supports you or maybe never did can take weeks or months depending on how long and how much you’ve stashed or collected. And if you choose to donate these items know you will be gifting others a fresh start because they may have lost all their belongings because of fire, flood, mudslides, or hurricane destruction.

I wish you deep and enduring peace as you take those gentle actions to clear your life of clutter as best as you can in this moment. Liberate yourself!


Laura Staley
Laura Staley
The founder of Cherish Your World, Laura Staley passionately helps people thrive by guiding them to a holistic transformation of space, heart, mind, body, and soul. Laura knows that there’s a relationship between the conditions of our homes or workplaces and the quality of our lives. Trained and certified with the Western School of Feng Shui and seasoned by almost two decades of working with a variety of clients, Laura uses her intuition and expertise to empower her clients to produce remarkable results in their lives. Her trifecta of serving people includes speaking, writing, and compassionate listening. As a columnist, Laura writes personal essays focused on self-discovery, feng shui, emotional health, and transformations from the inside out. Laura is the published author of three books: Live Inspired, Let Go Courageously and Live with Love: Transform Your Life with Feng Shui, and the Cherish Your World Gift Book of 100 Tips to Enhance Your Home and Life. Prior to creating her company, Laura worked as a fulltime parent and an assistant professor at Ohio Wesleyan University. She earned a Ph.D. in political science from The Ohio State University. Her joys in life include laughing with loved ones, dancing, reading, meditating, running, being in nature, and listening to music she loves. She resides in Black Mountain, NC with lovable dog, Layla. Laura is a contributing author to the inspiring book Crappy to Happy: Sacred Stories of Transformational Joy

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  1. Sometimes it is healthy to keep little tokens of your past, memories and things that symbolize a special time in your life. When it becomes a burden of great depression, perhaps even to the point of hoarding, that is a whole extra level of psychological debris that must be cleared away. Like a messy room, where do you start?

    • Yes, Aaron, some people find that keeping things large or small from their past means a great deal-these items are seen as treasures. I notice that people take good care of these belongings-they are sacred objects that inspire, support, and uplift. For those who have these items and this type of empowering/life-giving connection to them, I 100 percent support them keeping them. Each person gets to decide!! Yet, your insightful statement is one that I often frame as a question: What in your life right now is a burden? And can you gently look at this with fresh eyes-to see the lessons, tell the story of why this is a burden, and then do some form of “letting go.” or integrating this into the tapestry of your life story of things, thoughts, people, places….place it in the flow like a leaf in a stream…
      As for you last question, I receive this one often-start where you can-for a few minutes each day. Some people must start in the messiest spot-the “hardest/smelliest/most cluttered place-like taking out the really stinky garbage. Where do you get most agitated? Maybe start there! Others find that starting with a small section-one shelf of one bookshelf, one corner of one room, one box that’s on top of other boxes. The most important things is to start-to take that bold action and continue this. I often encourage clients and workshop participants to take a break from bringing (non-essentials) items into the house while they are clearing. Like the inhale that never exhales-unsustainable. For some of us we simply must learn to inhale what we need, and exhale all the rest. We get to learn how to breath and live in a balanced, healthy way. I hope this was helpful. Thank you so much for your thoughts and your question!!

    • Laura, very helpful indeed. I’m an artist, so my work space is filled with clutter. Piles upon piles of incomplete sketches, folders filled with ideas, boxes filled with markers, pencils and otherwise. None of this is psychological baggage, yet the fruits of what I create are often weeds from my conscience. I pull them, pluck them and arrange them. Occasionally I will share them, much to the dismay of those who view my paintings. They are not pretty flowers or abstract baskets, they are monstrous faces, some fantasy, some waiting for poetic verse to describe their existence. Beyond the confines of my cluttered space, I run a tidy ship. The rest of my world is order, I have a definitive limit and what happens in my imagination, stays in my imagination. Thanks again you for sharing a little bit more behind your statement, it was very insightful. I will remember this when I start letting things go…

    • Aaron: Your reply reminds me of this idea called-“active chaos”-when we are creating it’s suppose to be messy!!! Whether its a meal, a painting, a poem, our physical space often reflects that creative burst or in some cases, explosion of ideas-the imagination at work. I wish you much joy in the space of your imagination, your work space, your paintings, your expression-and the many pathways to the completed artwork as you have described so beautifully. I love how you’ve described your process-reads like a poem. The journey can be where the joy is. Continue to relish this. And you’re very welcome for the additional guidance.

  2. Wise words well spoken Laura. Connection to people is what we’re here for……it’s risky, worthy business. I have not been a pack rat when it comes to things, but I know I’ve been guilty of holding onto some clutter otherwise. As you say, how liberating – and transformational – to let go. Timely thoughts as we are on the threshhold of a new decade! Love your writing.

    • Thank you so much, Mike! I appreciate your kind words and reflections here. I completely agree with you that relationships with people matter the most for that’s often where rich learning can happen as we heal and transform. I appreciate your honesty about holding on to clutter sometimes-I believe most of us do to one degree or another. And there are the minimalists who live inside their values and expression. I encourage people to find that place of “sweet spot” for them as we are all unique beings. With the approach of the clear vision of 2020, I agree that the time to clear away what no longer supports our lives is now! 🙂 I appreciate your thoughts, your encouraging ways of communicating.

    • Thank you for your kind words, Kimberly! What a testimony to clearing clutter! We do feel like different people. We become free. Thank you for taking the time to read this piece and offer your uplifting testimony to the power of clutter clearing!

  3. You know how I feel about this topic, insightful Laura! Let’s all have a liberating and adventurous 2020. Such transforming ideas and ways of working with feng shui, clutter, and ultimately clarity. A joy to read, even more interesting for me to keep moving into action with. Cheers and to continued flow to you!

    • Thank you so much!! Yes, may you continue to be in action to clear what you no longer need in your life for clear vision in 2020, liberation, and greater peace.

  4. I love that you write about clearing away the clutter, Laura. It is liberating to let go of the things that we have collected over the years, although it isn’t easy at first. However, there is value in going through this process. And, as you’ve often talked about, decluttering our minds is a liberating act as well. One could even conclude that both go hand in hand. At least that is what I’ve found. When I clear a physical space, my mindset is better too.

    I think letting go opens portals to positivity. When I started to de-clutter our space, I noticed a shift in mindset, and the dots that connected after that were quite serendipitous. It’s interesting to think about how it is all interconnected, but seeing – and feeling – the benefits of it is the greatest reward.

    • Your words speak the very core of my message to people, Laura. Yes, there’s interconnectivity among spaces, our lives, thoughts, feelings, experiences, relationships. This is one of the three principles of feng shui-that everything is connected-as you love to connect the dots-your expression for this. Yes! And the invitation becomes to empower all of our connections-to upgrade these to who we are becoming.

      Thank you so much for your beautiful contribution to this discussion, Laura. This especially leaps for me: “I think letting go opens portals to positivity.” Yes! Exactly!!

    • Life absolutely can be difficult, Joel. And as you share-how important to connect with people, with those who really care about us in loving and healthy ways. Indeed. Thank you so much for your reflections here that highlight two key points-the importance of releasing bottled up emotions and connecting with others-especially during stressful times. I appreciate your kind words about the article and I appreciate you, Joel.