Well, dear readers, if you think I’m done with my spring-cleaning theme, think again. To refresh your memory, I first wrote about decluttering one’s home while inspired by Marie Kondo. My second article on this theme revolved around the spiritual gifts of giving things away. After pondering the concept of getting rid of material possessions, and actually getting rid of what feels like HALF of my own, which in turn led to a lightness and freedom words cannot describe, I started thinking about ways we can “declutter” our emotional closets.
As I sat in sessions with my clients day after day listening to their stories, it hit me that we need to declutter more than just our physical possessions- it is also essential for our health and wellbeing to get rid of the following:
- Unhealthy relationships and toxic people
- Addictive and self-destructive patterns
- Old stuck memories and the emotions that get stirred up by them
I started thinking about how great it would be to write a companion book to The Life-changing Magic Of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art Of Decluttering And Organizing by Marie Kondo about the “emotional decluttering” process. Then I started fantasizing about writing that book myself and thought I’d surf the web and see if anyone else had written anything like it. Low and behold, the adage, ‘There is no such thing as an original idea’ is indeed true! Someone else beat me to it! Because I am now doing my best to be a Buddhist, upon discovering this fact, I looked at her web page and said out loud: “Bless you sister for your ingenuity. What a fabulous idea you came up with! May your work be a blessing on the world.”
The book I discovered was this one: The Life-Changing Magic Of Not Giving a F*ck: How To Stop Spending Time You Don’t Have With People You Don’t Like Doing Things You Don’t Want to Do by Sarah Knight. I ordered it immediately and haven’t finished reading it in time to review it here, but I found a couple of reviews-this one and this one– you may want to look at to help you decide if it’s something you want to order yourself.
Personally, I can tell that I love the author already based on the title! My basic understanding at this point is that Sarah Knight read Marie Kondo’s book, got rid of all her stuff that didn’t ‘spark joy’ and then starting examining both those activities and people in her life ‘sparked joy’ and those that didn’t. Thus, she was led to write a hilarious but extremely practical book to help others do the same.
I wrote a review a few years ago of a book that I believe achieves a similar aim- to let go of the people-pleasing habit by learning to say NO. This, too, was a parody of another more somber book by Eckart Tolle; The Power of Now. I tried reading his book too, but kept glazing over and falling asleep. Not so with The Power of No. I’ll end with the review I wrote of it so that you can start using this ‘emotional decluttering’ tool right away. Enjoy!
How to End the People-Pleasing Habit and Take Back Your Life
Are you a people-pleaser, afraid to say no because you may hurt someone’s feelings? If so, you need to read this book: The Power of NO: How to keep blowhards and bozos at bay” by Beth Wareham.
One of the most common issues clients bring to my therapy office is the inability to say “no”. Whether it’s declining a dinner invitation, refusing a marriage proposal, or telling your kid you’re not a total doormat, and that there are consequences for inappropriate behaviour, I find that as a group, we women generally SUCK at saying NO. This is not to say that we are weak or wishy-washy, because all the women I know are anything but. I think it has more to do with bad training as a species. As little girls, most of us were taught to be ‘nice’ at any cost. And we discover later on as adults that this cost is HUGE. We may have said “yes” to all the wrong things: that hideous prom dress that our girlfriend insisted was “darling”, that 80’s perm that was ‘all the rage’ at the time but looked ghastly on us, the career our parents wanted us to follow, the guy we ended up marrying, etc… Wareham calls our first quarter of life the “Yessing Season” where we say “yes” to everything we should have said no to.
I am definitely someone who has learned from the terrible “yeses” of years gone by. This must-have book covers saying NO when needed in all the essential areas of a woman’s life: marriage, friendship, work, home, family-of-origin, life in general, and the greatest NO of all- saying NO to YOURSELF when needed. My favourite part of this book is the section on dating- saying NO is so vital to finding the right partner. I will leave you with some hilarious and wise words from the chapter on dating called, “The Yessing Season: No in Love”. Then you have to go out and buy yourself a copy of this book and keep it close by you at all times to refer to anytime someone asks you to do something you really don’t want to do.
Why are the laws of attraction so often ignored when one is trying to attract: Chasing is not attracting: it is incessant yessing. And it’s annoying to most. Want something? Wait. In this low-rise, instant-messaging world, everything and everyone is ready to wiggle, giggle, and hang at any given moment. Pants graze hips, and shirts ride rib cages; virtually anyone can be contacted in a second, no matter where they are or what they’re doing; random desires can be typed and sent in an impetuous nanosecond, arriving with a beep to the object of desire. With all of this in-your-face-here-you-go-I’m-on-my-way yessing, never before has there been so much for the taking and giving and never have so many been unhappy once taken or gotten. Quite frankly, it is easier today to have sex than an interesting or meaningful conversation. Whatever you want is available, and yet nothing seems to last because the next bootylicious message alert is on its way. And you, my friend, are history. Why? Because you should have said no when you said yes. You fell for the notion that because you said yes, someone would like you and like you for a long time. You said yes because you wanted that shiny thing, and you said yes because you thought it was the way to lasting love, enduring friendship, and acceptance- a happy life all around. You looked around at a culture gone mad with yes and forgot one of the most profound and enduring truths about human nature: People want what they cannot have. You will learn that getting what you want often depends on your willingness to go without it- your gamble that a short burst of initial rejection will get you your much-longed-for sustained embrace. Did June Carter just run off immediately with that pill-popping, liquor-guzzling Johnny Cash? It’s the ancient adage, made icky by Sting in a song: Free, free, set it free. Then let it come to you. Chase nothing. Pursue no one. Stand fast and let it come to you. You must, through word or deed, say no to get the yes you crave. (pp.1-2).
Homework for this week: Journal about all the times you said YES when you should have said NO. What were the costs for doing so?
Do you have a story of finding peace by learning to say “no” to things and people that don’t serve you? If so, my readers would love to hear your story. You are welcome to remain anonymous if you wish. Send stories to me via e-mail: esther(AT)estherkane.com