Want a fresh, calm and focused mind?
Try this five-part decluttering writing exercise
As of last week - 20 March - Spring has officially Sprung! This is THE most exciting time of the year to have a good declutter. A black bag is twitching in my kitchen knowing there is a redundant pile of ‘outside world’ stuff I haven’t used for the past year. But I'm assuming (?!) I'll need these things again, so it's a constant tug of war.
Spring cleaning though, is really about what's on the inside, so here's an exercise made up of several parts that’s designed to help you create some headspace, focusing on relationships.
We have relationships with all kinds of things, not just people: phones, habits, rooms/spaces, thoughts, life itself. In fact, this exercise can only be partly be done with a living human you’re in a relationship now. The exception to this is someone who is no longer with us, or, no longer with you. This exercise can really help with surfacing any unfinished business with people and help you choose what you want to take forward.
As I say though, relationships aren't all about people. The relationship you choose could be a habit - your relationship with food, the TV or alcohol for example. It could be the thoughts that swirl around in your head. It could be a device such as your phone. Or it could even be a room or space. Basically, if you interact with ‘it/them’ in some way, then ‘it’s’ in. If you’re unsure where to start, you could tackle your relationship with life itself.
So first, you’ll pick an area you’d like to focus on. Then you'll take a look at what you currently believe about that particular area of life, and how you’d like it to be different. Then you’ll look at how things are now and how you’d like them to be.
For all parts of this exercise, give yourself around five minutes or so and try and write as freely as you can, just keep writing, even if it’s not connected – anything you write will give you information.
So pick your chosen relationship and let's begin.
Part 1: Your beliefs on the subject at hand
It’s always interesting to start with what your fundamental beliefs are around the topic you choose are. Write about what you grew up believing or have learned along the way. Is it more important for a room to look good, or feel good, be functional or aesthetic? With food or drink, is a little bit of what you like good for you or do you have to refrain as much as possible from indulgences? Is life is supposed to be enjoyable or hard? Does loving someone mean they are in your life forever, even if they’re no longer with you or even alive, or are relationships here only to teach us something and move on? Is your phone a miracle of technology that needs to be used to the max or an in intrusive pest? Are thoughts swirling around your head 24/7 normal or do you think it’s just you?
Prompt: [Thing you’ve chosen e.g. life, phones, romantic relationships] are/is…
Once you’ve finished writing, review what you’ve written. What is an assumption or inherited belief? Question these things, are they true? What evidence do you have? Are you open to throwing out old beliefs and make a choice about what you'd like to replace it with?
2. What you really, really want?
Now, thinking of your chosen relationship, write about how you’d like it to be. Maybe spend a few minutes visualising what you’d like to see, how you’d like to feel and then get it all down. If it’s a room/space, how do you want to feel when you walk in, what do you see yourself doing, who is allowed in this space and when? Really get into the detail. If it’s your phone or tablet, again, think about how often you’d like to use your phone/tablet and what for? If it’s food or alcohol, how do you want to feel about it, consume it. If it’s a past relationship, what would you like to let go/be left with. If it’s how you live your life, what does really living look like to you?
Prompt: If things were my way…
Part 3: Stating the bleeding obvious
This next part is all about stating what’s happening/not happening now, and what's happened in the past. It might sound a bit pointless because you probably feel you know what’s going on in your life, particularly if it’s an area that you’re not happy with. But trust me, if something’s a problem, you don’t. Getting to the nuts and bolts of what’s happening always gives valuable insight. So get your Sherlock hat on and write – in as much detail as you can - the who, when, where, what, how? of what's going on.
Prompt: What’s happening is…
Part 4: The request
Now you know what's going on - including your beliefs - and you know what you'd like, it's time to write to the phone/person/habit/life/room, and tell it/them how you’d like things to be. Say what you’re prepared to do in return. Be clear and specific.
Prompt: I’d like…
Part 4: The agreement
Have the phone/person/habit/life/room write back to you. You’ll be amazed at what this kind of conversation can uncover, all from your little old pen.
Prompt: Dear [Your name], I agree to…
Have fun with these prompts – happy clearing!
Fortuitously – and I promise it wasn’t by design (if only I were that strategic) - as of April, I’ll be running my writing workshop ‘The Declutter Room’ as a monthly session. For more information, click here.