Clutter Clearing: Visitors and Permanent Residents

Say good-bye to visitors that have done over-stayed their welcome.

Say good-bye to visitors that have done over-stayed their welcome.

I’ll never forget the day that I was struggling with the loss of a friendship and a wise counselor told me, “Some people come into your life and stay with you for the whole journey. Others come in to travel with you for a part of your journey and then depart. And, others come in for an event, a moment, and then move on. Not everyone who comes into your life is meant to stay the whole time.” That perspective helped me understand that as I grow and change, I encounter and attract new people into my life and I let go of others. Not everyone will stay with me through each and every stage. To expect that is unrealistic and a setup for disappointment and pain. They too have their journeys. Letting them go is OK. It’s a natural part of growing and evolving.

This same perspective can be applied to how we relate to our possessions. Some things come into our lives and are so precious that they travel with us for the whole journey. Other things come in and we love or use them for a leg of the journey. As we change we find that they either no longer serve us or we no longer love them. We let them go. Some things come in for a very brief time — a party, an event, a season — and then they no longer serve us. We release them to make space for new, good things to come into our lives.

Not everything that enters your space is meant to stay. I like to think of those things that come in forever as permanent residents. For something to be considered a permanent resident it should have a very special association with a person, memory, time in your life, or be of outstanding value to you.

Just this week it occurred to me that those things that come in for a leg of your journey or a brief time are really visitors. Visitors come and go. Most of us don’t want visitors to stay indefinitely. If they stay too long they just take up space and are annoying. And, you only want visitors in your space if you still have a positive connection with them. When things are no longer loved or used, your connection with them has diminished and it’s time to see them to the door.

Learning to distinguish between the permanent residents and visitors among your possessions is a great way to give yourself permission to let go of things that are still useful, but have finished their length of stay with you. This week check out the visitors in your home. Have they done their time? Do they need to be escorted to the trash or donation bin? Move them along and you’ll be moving your life along as well!