The Miracle of Decluttering Relationships
“Buddhism teaches that joy and happiness arise from letting go. Please sit down and take an inventory of your life. There are things you’ve been hanging on to that really are not useful and deprive you of your freedom. Find the courage to let them go.”―Thích Nhất Hạnh, Peace Is Every Breath: A Practice for Our Busy Lives
Re-engineering my relationship structure was one of the best things I had ever done after starting a wellness journey three years ago. That’s true! We are all busy juggling multiple things to keep our lives going. But pausing to examine the status quo and reflect on ourselves can help us to take a closer look into our relationships—including what fits us and what doesn’t.
The New York Bestseller book “The One Thing” by Gary Kelly & Jay Papasan reported that focusing on the ONE thing can achieve an extraordinary result. That ONE thing I focused on during the healing process after my marriage separation was to take good care of myself first—both mentally and physically! I want fewer distractions to simplify my plate, to remove things and relationships that stress me out, to use more energy on the things that can help me become more productive.
Less is more!
There are three aspects you can work on to improve overall wellbeing:
- The place you live
- The people around you
- The food you give to your body
Therefore, being mindful of the things, food, and people that surround you is crucial. These choices have a direct impact on your mental health.
When “I” Transforms Into “We”
Traditionally, we want to enter a relationship and quickly transform “I” into “we.” We merge habits and thinking. Many cultures are bound to believe that we should have the desire to make each other happy and strengthen our relationships. “I” eventually disappears within the “togetherness.”
When you are in a healthy relationship, it can pick you up and help you to grow into a better version of yourself. However, what happens when a beautiful relationship has changed its course and become harmful and unsatisfying?
Your love for others is not an exchange; love is about “giving” without expectation. It is a decision that we can make. Invest your energy into things and people that give you positive feelings, and identify those things and people that deserve your love and attention.
If You Want to Feel Light, You Have to Let Go.
“Knowledge is learning something every day. Wisdom is letting go of something every day.”—Zen Proverbs.
Are you experiencing too much heartache from troubled relationships: spouse, parents, siblings, friends, or colleagues? A once-great relationship may not always remain great forever. When facing a toxic relationship, do we have any other choice but to consistently repair it (because we’ve committed to it)?
Have you had an experience where you try so hard to fix the problem, but the situations are nowhere to improve? Instead, pull your energy down. Maybe it is time to ask yourself: Why not let go? Perhaps the best solution is to learn to take an active role in loving yourself more and stop putting so many burdens on your heart.
When we think about decluttering, we often refer to the environment, such as cleaning the house or re-organizing the desk. However, why is decluttering relationships periodically as important as decluttering your home?
Think about it; if you don’t allow a random person to come to your home, how can you allow just about anyone to occupy your mind space? Therefore, we need to make room in our mental space and invest our energy precisely in the people that are good for us. Rafael Nadal and Oprah Winfrey once said, “Surround yourself with the right people.”
Decluttering relationships is not always straightforward and quick. It is a process that we need to acknowledge, break up, let go, and move on. It certainly takes a lot more effort to let go of someone who has established emotional bonds over the years than to let go of someone you met last month.
The definition of decluttering does not mean cutting everything out. It is more like organizing and setting proper boundaries for each relationship. It may be better to cut some of them off, but with others you can maintain a healthy distance, or keep it close in the core group. The effort can range from muting somebody in social media to detaching someone with whom you often interact.
“Decluttering relationships” is a process of building your identity through adjustment, setting boundaries to make yourself clear, and slowly withdrawing your dependency on the people or things that don’t serve you anymore. Oversee the judgmental comments and mindfully focus on your overall well-being.
If you care too much about the other party’s reactions and start losing the boundaries, this toxic relationship is back to square one!
Family Manipulation and Emotional Blackmailing
As Taiwanese, we are raised to respect the elderly, and obey our parents. Expressing your ideas can be easily taken as “talking back.” Therefore, setting boundaries can seem foreign.
It is no secret that respectful communication between parent and child strengthens the emotional bond, while a lack of communication creates distance, trust issues, and emotional problems. However, a toxic parent can go even further by putting their needs before the child, ignoring kids’ feelings and boundaries. They are manipulative and self-centered.
Cutting someone out of your life is difficult, but the process can be much more complicated if that person is your parent. Decluttering relationships with parents can mean moving out of the shared house to create a healthy distance, joining family dinner once a month instead of every day, and focusing on news events rather than personal matters. These are minor adjustments; however, if the relationship is too unhealthy, “divorcing” a parent is sometimes the best option.
Unfulfilling and Toxic Partner
A healthy marriage involves admiration, commitment, and friendship. When a marriage or partnership is in a good state, both people are in tune with their dialogues, feelings, and goals. What happens when a once-in-love couple becomes distant or abusive?
Leaving my marriage was one of the hardest decisions I had ever made because of my fear of the future. There is so much uncertainty for myself and my children. Although I was in so much pain for years, I still couldn’t find the courage to leave.
It is hard leaving a bad marriage. However, the reason you are considering leaving is that you are unhappy. If leaving the marriage is constantly running through your head, you are seeking a change at this point!
The process was painful, but it gave me a chance to start over—a free me!
Are You Best Friends?
Is “BFF” is no longer feeling like forever? Your best friend is causing stress, nervousness, and anxiety. You feel drained and mentally exhausted being around a particular group of friends. Instead of lifting you up, this relationship makes you doubt yourself, making you feel lonely and isolated.
Toxic friendships can include gossiping, not respecting your boundaries, leaving you unsettled after spending time together, everything is about them, or even putting you down. Women’s Health talks about the 15 warning signs of a toxic friendship.
Toxic Work Environment
Many people have encountered toxicity in their workplaces, but most haven’t always been able to identify it from the get-go. Many of us didn’t even realize it at the time. Some may even conclude that they were the problem.
When you are in a toxic workplace, it often makes you feel that you are not enough and your efforts are not being acknowledged. The article, 5 biggest signs of a toxic work environment, teaches how to recognize toxic workplaces.
Decluttering Your Physical Space
“Start by discarding. Then organize your space thoroughly, completely, in one go.”—Mari Kondo.
Moving to Spain felt like taking a giant leap of faith. It wasn’t easy! However, it allowed me to re-organize personal belongings to save time and money for an international relocation.
During my separation period, I moved out of the shared apartment rather than passively waiting for the other half to take action. This action has allowed me to recreate a space where I can surround myself with the things I love (and want to see). Emotionally, I’ve moved away from the extreme tension embedded in my daily life.
Simplify Your Kitchen; Make Healthier Choices
Clutter causes stress, anxiety, and a sense of overwhelmingness. In a research study from Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab, 101 female students participated in either a clean, organized kitchen or a chaotic, messy one with an all-you-can-eat snack supply throughout the experiment. The researchers found that women in a messy kitchen are more likely to be out of control, and consume 44% more snacks than people who live in a cleaner environment.
It’s proven that a chaotic environment can create a vulnerability to making unhealthy food choices. When pangs of hunger and tiredness arrive, your willpower is low, and your stress level may increase. Consequently, your brain will likely seek something more accessible; you might want to reach out for the bag of potato chips that is visibly sitting on the counter. It is much easier to control the kitchen environment than to control the craving. Keeping your kitchen organized can help you to make healthier food choices.
Mindful eating is a process of making healthier food choices and eating the right way without a wandering mind. The brain takes up 50% of what we eat! Listen to your body: Eat right, eat enough, and eat regularly!
Explore mindful living
The Wellness Journey explores holistic wellness: body, mind, and spirit. To look within means that you’re willing to embrace both the best and worst aspects of yourself by accepting who you truly are in this life. Mindfulness is not a destination. It will always be a journey.