Everything you own owns a piece of you.
We live in a society of materialism, conditioned to believe that having things will bring fulfilment, happiness, success and security. Therefore, we have no hesitation about accumulating, assuming it has no downside. We normalize living an everyday life of overwhelm, stress, anxiety and hustle to serve the purpose of attaining and storing material possessions. We work ourselves into unhappiness and disease for things we think we need. But do we? And is it worth it?
You expend resources to obtain every item you possess; money, time, effort and/or energy were spent, and it doesn't only require resources to attain the item but also to keep it. Whether it be space, time, energy or money, your resources continue to be invested into owning and maintaining everything you have. The truth is that every item we choose to accept into our lives costs us something from the day we get it until the day we release it. All of your possessions are subtly and continuously charging you ownership tax.
There is an energetic component to owning things, which greatly impacts our mental, emotional and physical state. It has been proven that an unbalanced living space can lead to anxiety, stress, procrastination, overwhelm, burnout, lack of focus, impulse control issues, overeating, relationship issues, poor mental/emotional health, and a general lack of well-being. The state of your home is constantly affecting you on a subtle subconscious level, influencing all areas of your life.
This is not to say that having stuff is bad. We need things to survive and a few more things to experience ease and convenience. But where is the line? The cycle of never-ending accumulation isn't working because we are a society of overworked, exhausted, unfulfilled people who are eternally rushing towards the next upgrade. We have been conditioned to attain, consume and hoard, trapped in a cycle of dependence and lack. The good news is that one simple mindset change can free us from this vicious cycle: shifting our focus from having stuff to honouring stuff.
Imagine if you truly loved and appreciated all the items you had in your possession. The responsibility required to keep and maintain them could become a joyful expression of honouring and caring for them rather than begrudgingly dealing with yet another responsibility. If we chose to own only items that serve us, whether in a practical function or through the gift of joy, we would think twice before attaining more. When accepting something into your life, remember that it comes with responsibility, and it will cost you resources, in one way or another, for every single day that you own it. If you're unwilling to accept that responsibility, you may not be ready to accept the item.
We also have a hard time letting go of what we already have. Our mental conditioning tells us that we need things to be happy and safe, so we cling to them. Subconscious patterns of lack and fear can trigger us to accumulate and hoard, and the idea of purging becomes a threat. But decluttering your life is not all about sacrifice; it is about simplifying and streamlining your responsibilities by releasing anything that does not truly serve you. This decreases the amount of resources you must expend and increases your time, energy, space, money and well-being exponentially.
How do you know if something is serving you or not? This is something only you can answer. Try reflecting on why you own what you own. Do you actually need, use or love it? Does it serve a practical function, or are you hanging onto it out of fear or obligation? Does it bring you true joy, or is it serving your ego through pride and status? Be honest with yourself when reflecting on your possessions, why you have them, and their role in your life. It all comes down to determining if the ownership tax is worth it to you. Do you own your things, or do they own you?
It isn't just our stuff we need to consider, but also the overall condition of our personal space. Our homes, properties, offices and vehicles are an external representation of our internal state. Our space and our energy field have an ever-present connection and influence on one another; it is an energetic feedback system. We are not taught about the massive impact our space has on our health, but it is very real.
Some people can be more impacted by their environment than others, requiring a very organized, clean and aesthetically balanced space to feel at ease. Mess or clutter of any kind may invoke significant anxiety and directly impact their well-being. These people must honour this and be dedicated to the upkeep of their space to ensure it meets their energetic requirements. It is each person's responsibility to understand their needs and live accordingly. We must also recognize and respect that others may have a different or opposing lifestyle. There is no benefit to judging others or attempting to change them. It is okay that others don't share your needs; maybe just don't choose to cohabitate with them. If that is not possible, communication and boundaries are essential. This may take effort, and facing ridicule or being ignored by others who do not share your preferences is common. Regardless, it is your responsibility to create, maintain and protect space for yourself that is conducive to your requirements for health and happiness.
Whether you like your house with everything just so, a chaotic disaster, or somewhere in between, you do you. But for those of you battling chronic anxiety, stress, or overwhelm, your living environment could be a huge part of the problem. If this resonates with you, here are a few steps to feel better soon.
If you feel like your stuff and space are affecting your life negatively, try these lifestyle codes to see if things improve:
1) Stop accumulating. You probably don't need more stuff, and you're only exacerbating the problem. Don't accept free items just because they are free or take things just because someone is throwing them away. Remember, they aren't free; they charge you an ownership tax and cost you precious resources every second they are in your possession.
2) Sort your stuff. Keep, donate or throw away. Try the Marie Kondo method on Netflix or any other sorting process that resonates with you. If you feel overwhelmed because the problem is excessive, just start. Pick one room, closet or drawer and tackle it. Start small and keep progressing. The sooner you get rid of some stuff, the sooner that ownership tax decreases, and you will begin to feel better and motivated to keep going.
3) Clean with gratitude. Cleaning is necessary to reap the benefits of feeling good in your space (unfortunate but true). Practice gratitude as you clean to help reframe things into a positive mindset. As you do laundry, give thanks that you have clothing that protects you and that you enjoy wearing. When you're dusting your knick-knacks, think about how much you love them and why you accepted them into your life in the first place. If you feel resentment while maintaining your stuff, that is a clear message. Your emotional state will blatantly tell you what is serving you and what isn't as you clean; listen.
4) Place with intention. Don't just shove your items in any space they fit; place them with intention. Put your stuff away with a conscious mindset so you can remember where it is when you need it again and in an organized manner so that it doesn't add to the mess. Place things in rows; this simple change that takes two extra seconds will transform a space, and your life, in the long run.
5) Maintenance is key. Letting things pile up can indicate a lack of appreciation (or even resentment) of your space or the stuff in it; readjust your mindset and rethink what you're choosing to keep in your life. If you get overwhelmed, struggle to clean, or tend to let things slide, the answer is to clean as you go. This eliminates the need for large cleaning/organizing events, which can feel intimidating to some people and lead to procrastination due to dread of the looming duty. This won't happen if you follow steps 3-5 regularly. If you're already in a state of overwhelm, just start. Once you hit the maintenance stage, learn to take a small amount of extra time with the little things for a big overall long-term impact. Future you will thank you. It doesn't need to be perfect or all done right now, but if you tweak your mindset and start, you'll eventually get there and stay there.
6) Release resistance. If you feel your space negatively impacts you but aren't doing anything about it, you may be keeping yourself stuck. Whatever your reason for not taking action, the only way to move forward is to release it, which can require some tough self-reflection and accountability.
We are great at keeping ourselves stuck. The biggest reason people give for their unkept space is lack of time. There may be extenuating circumstances where this is a legitimate reason, but for many of us, it is an excuse. Reflect on:
-is the state of my home genuinely a priority for me? If not, that is perfectly okay; own it and move on. If yes, release the excuse, initiate change and take action.
-am I overwhelmed because I have more stuff or space than I can maintain? If yes, revisit steps one and two above.
Perfectionism and procrastination are two other major culprits. Maintaining your space does not mean it needs to be perfect or magazine worthy; telling ourselves this causes us to give up before we even start. The key is getting your space into a state that you feel good in, not because it looks good to other people but because you feel your best when you are in the space. This is the sole indicator of the energetics of your space: how does it make you feel?
7) Build your space around your needs. It is up to you to figure out your needs and build your space around them. This often requires a bit of sacrifice in one way or another, but if something is truly a priority to you, it won't feel like a sacrifice. For example, if you don't like cleaning or organizing but want a clean and organized space, consider owning less stuff and having less space so you have less to maintain. Every decision has a consequence, and all stuff and space require maintenance.
8) Set boundaries with cohabitants. If you share your space with other people, it's up to you to communicate and set boundaries with them. It can become a never-ending battle when you share space with individuals incompatible with your needs. Be picky about who you share your space with. Nothing kills a connection faster than having your needs ignored or your boundaries disrespected.
9) Accept personal responsibility. It's up to you to make your space a priority. Nobody will fix it for you unless you pay them, and even then, if you don't shift your mindset and learn to maintain your space yourself, you will be right back where you started in a short period. Also, don't leave your duties for someone else to care for. Lacking accountability and disrespecting other people's time creates energetic karma that does not serve positively.
10) Remember to have gratitude. This is so key. If you can't muster enough gratitude for your stuff or space to maintain it, that is a clear sign that it isn't serving you and something needs to change. If you don't honour an item enough to dust it or a space enough to vacuum it, why do you have it? Free yourself from the burden of owning things you aren't grateful for.
The big takeaways here are:
You are impacted. Your stuff and space affect you mentally, emotionally, physically and energetically in massive ways you are likely unaware of.
It costs to own. Every item has an energetic toll on you, an ownership tax charged to you every minute the item is in your possession, above and beyond the initial price to attain the item.
It's up to you. Your stuff and your space are your responsibility, and having accountability for both is up to you alone. Determine your priorities and live accordingly, with no excuses.
These concepts can be applied to almost any area of life, not just your possessions but also people, projects, commitments, jobs, etc. Are you taking on too much? You are responsible for knowing your limits and not accepting more than you can handle. Doing so will only scatter your energy, leading to anxiety, stress, overwhelm, burnout, depression and poor health.
In a world where we are taught to attain things and martyr ourselves endlessly, it can be difficult to reverse the programming, but doing so is essential if you want to live a life of peace and contentment. In this fast-paced world, we are pressured to consume constantly and take on more without considering the consequences. Ultimately, it is up to you to understand your needs, determine your priorities, and control what is accepted into your life. Only you can answer, is it worth it?
Need assistance with your stuff or space? Get help here.
Written by: Lacey
This content was originally posted on March 15, 2023.