Life is a lot more fun when you let go of the energy vampires
Spring cleaning is a good opportunity to declutter your relationships too.
My late father, much as I loved him, drove me crazy with his hoarding.
Perhaps it’s a generational thing – he was, after all, born during World War II, and he grew up in fairly humble surroundings, so you can understand that he might be frugal. But still.
He didn’t hoard like those terrifying people on television, a small mercy I am very grateful for.
His hoarding took the form of saving any little doofadang (yes, I totally made up that word) that might be useful sometime in the future.
And all of it landed up in his garage – endless pots of paint, baby food jars filled with nails and nuts and bolts and screws, tiny bits of string and sandpaper. You name it, you could probably find it in his garage. Except he couldn’t. There was just too much stuff.
I think it taught me the value of removing clutter from my life. Physical clutter, definitely – there’s nothing I enjoy more than a good decluttering – but in recent years, I’ve decluttered my life in other ways too.
I remember the day I sat in my therapist’s room feeling utterly drained by some of my friendships. She gave me a simple exercise: she asked me to list the people I love spending time with, who energise me, and then to list the energy vampires.
Then she asked me who I tended to spend the most time with. It was Dracula and his cohorts. No wonder I felt so depleted.
I immediately started to seek out the energisers, and quietly disengage from the vampires. It was life-changing.
I’ve also learned to put down all of the things I think I “must” do or “should” be doing. Says who, exactly?
When it comes down to brass tacks (which my dad probably had somewhere in his garage) there is nothing you need to do in life outside of breathing, eating and drinking. The rest is a choice.
Will there be consequences if you choose not to do certain things? Of course. But there are also things on your to-do list that you could most certainly put down, and the result will be relief, lightness, joy. For me, that’s a choice worth making.
Because (and I’m sorry to bring it up) if the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that life can change in an instant, and that it can also be short.
Why then would we choose to do things that don’t serve us, that don’t bring joy to our lives, out of some misplaced sense of what we should be doing, what others might think.
If you’re grumbling to yourself that this sounds a bit selfish, don’t worry, I know where you’re coming from. Because that was me before I learnt that when I declutter my life of those possessions, tasks and people that don’t bring me joy, that don’t energise me – I am so much nicer to be around. I have more energy. I get more done. I have more fun!
It’s not about being self-ish. It’s about being self-full. No, not full of yourself, but your full self. The real you, in all your weirdness and wonder.
There’s something so uplifting about being around people who are comfortable in their own skin, uncluttered by everyone else’s expectations, and living their life on their own terms.
Am I suggesting you do as you please and don’t consider the consequences for anyone else? Not at all.
But I am suggesting that you examine all the things you think you have to do and ask yourself if you really have to do them, or really want to do them – because it makes a difference.
Do I have to shower every day? Nope. Do I want to? Hell, yes. I feel so much better when I do.
Do I have to hang around with that friend who keeps ditching me out of loyalty? No. Do I want to? Hell, no. Do you see how that works?
Maybe it’s a product of being 21 (okay, 50-something if you insist on accuracy) but I’m at the point of wanting quality over quantity – in friends, in activities, in possessions.
I’m not going to hang on to a bunch of stuff in case I need it some day like my dear old dad.
Now I do and keep the things I want, and I let go of the rest. Loadshedding, done my way.