Decluttering is one way of following the Minimalist Beauty Lifestyle. Before you throw away those unusable items in your closet, you have to start from inside of you. Start from your heart. These steps may overwhelm you. In fact, you may not admit that you do not need to change or have issues in life. But if we are to be truly honest with ourselves, we will be humble to admit that we need to change. Let me show you 8 steps to declutter your heart.
Step 1. Admit your inability to control your behavior.
We all have character traits that we are not proud of. Are you obsessed with shopping? Do you see yourself in a beeline at the nearest mall sale? No matter how hard you stay away from malls, you still find yourself buying. Why is that?
Maybe you feel stuck in life. You feel trapped in that job or business because you have to provide for your family. The relationship you are in is zapping the life out of you are exhibiting negative behavior as a cry for help. Or you have been running the family business and the responsibility is wearing you out and causing conflict with other family members.
You may not admit it but maybe you have been addicted to pleasing people, cannot live without a relationship, feel the need to dominate or be an achiever, or have been a workaholic. Some of your struggles may also include anger management, laziness, alcoholism, gambling, complacent, entering into immoral relationships, and worrying. All these issues have root causes and clutter your heart. We call these coping mechanisms as character defects.
“But when Jesus heard this, He said, ‘It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick.'” Matthew 9:12
Step 2. Understand the root cause of your negative behavior.
The family is our primary source of physical, mental, emotional, financial, and spiritual needs. If any of these are unmet, we develop compulsive or addictive behaviors. These behaviors when left unchecked, will act as coping mechanisms. For example, if a parent showers the child with material things to compensate for lack of time and attention (for example, overseas workers), the child will develop coping mechanisms. These coping mechanisms may be exhibited in adulthood in materialism or finding security in possessions, entering in wrong relationships, a constant need for approval and attention from other people, and many other negative behaviors. The excessive shopping is a symptom of a need to be loved.
“For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.” Romans 7:15
Step 3. Connect with God and start a relationship with Him.
Everything that we go through in life is a spiritual journey. The dysfunctions we experienced in our families create a wrong notion of who God is. Our unmet desires push us to behave a certain way. But in the deepest part of our heart is a void that only a relationship with God can fill. No amount of shopping or relationships can fill this void. Since it was God who put that hole in our heart, He will be the only one who can fill that hole. This journey to decluttering can only succeed if we ask God to come into our lives and ‘declutter’ us.
“And two blind men sitting by the road, hearing that Jesus was passing by, cried out, ‘Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!’ The crowd sternly told them to be quiet, but they cried out all the more, ‘Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!’ And Jesus stopped and called them, and said, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ They said to Him, ‘Lord, we want our eyes to be opened.’ Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes; and immediately they regained their sight and followed Him.” Matthew 20:30-34
Step 4. Self-examination and taking responsibility.
We now see that our negative behavior and wrong view of God are from the family dysfunctions we experienced. The next step is to focus on the results of that negative behavior. Hurt people hurt. We may have hurt other family members, friends, co-workers, and colleagues. It is important in our decluttering journey to own up to our mistakes.
“But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.” James 1:14-15
Step 5. Confess and ask for forgiveness.
This is one of the most difficult parts of the journey. Now that we are aware of our sin or mistakes, it is time to swallow our pride and admit our wrongdoing. Who do we confess to? We confess first to God, then to the people, we have hurt. When we ask forgiveness, it is important to highlight the specific wrongdoing. This is not the time to justify the hurt we have caused. Acknowledge that our behavior hurt these people. Sometimes when we ask forgiveness from people we have hurt, they may not extend forgiveness to us. It is understandable. We cannot control the outcome of this step. We can only control our actions. If they find it hard to forgive, give them time.
“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:8-9
Step 6. Discipline to Change.
“Character is the sum of our disposition, thoughts, intentions, desires, and actions. It is influenced and developed by choices we made as we were growing up.” – Glorious Hope Program
We realize that our wrong behaviors only hurt others and ourselves. Now, it’s time to change. This is not going to be easy. We have lived with this negative character for so long that removing it might be a challenge. But if we are sincere in changing our lives and giving to God what we cannot change, we are one step closer to a new person.
“He must turn away from evil and do good; He must seek peace and pursue it.”1 Peter 3:11
Step 7. Reconciliation.
When we hurt someone, we have caused them to distrust us. Making amends is a way of getting that trust back. This step shows our intent to mend that broken relationship and make things right. We take responsibility for our action. Aside from asking forgiveness, we also need to forgive ourselves. Have you forgiven yourself? God has.
“Therefore, if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.” Matthew 5:23-24
Step 8. Embracing God’s Design for you.
God’s purpose in creating you is for you to live a life that seeks to be like Christ, His Son. Yet God knows and allows not so good experiences to mold us and change us. It is in these challenging circumstances, we see His goodness and faithfulness. Our childhood experiences, both good and bad, are all part of God’s grand scheme in our life. He will use every tear, every smile, and every pain to make us the kind of person He wants us to be. He will never waste a life experience. The more we become intimate with God, the more we know Him and what He wants for us. Look forward to the uncluttered heart you have and make room for God and his purposes in your life.
“who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity.” 2 Timothy 1:9
You did not become an impulsive buyer or hoarder overnight. There is an underlying reason for that negative behavior. The character defects are coping mechanisms we use to protect ourselves. These steps will (hopefully) help stop you from going back to your default coping responses. I used to be workaholic, I was always angry, materialistic, ambitious, and got into immoral relationships. I went through all these steps and more, and I came out victorious. I have decluttered my heart and my mind. It has completely changed the way I live my life today. It’s time to take charge of your life and remove all the clutter that has filled your home and your heart. Start living the minimalist beauty lifestyle.