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Clear up your wardrobe and your life - Part II : Identify the intruders

By Tessa Ivascu | Section(s): GET... , | Add Your comment

Want to downsize your wardrobe and upsize your life ? As already mentioned in Part I, a closet full of « stuff » can be a fair reflection of inner turmoil. If you decided to take action, start by identifying the root causes of your wardrobe clutter and / or your emotional clutter. In both cases, your primary goal is to determine what is important to you. Give yourself access to it. Make space. Remember : where there is space, growth occurs.

Once you made space, you will be able to develop a knowledge of how to play up your assets and play down your flaws. Only then you can start building a strategy for a complete make-over.

Here’s a simple checklist you can apply to sort out « the wheat from the chaff » and get rid of the intruders in your closet and in your life.

Intruder #1.

in your closet
The fashion mistake. You considered it a « must have » because of the brand or because it looked « fantastic » on somebody else. Even if it’s not «really you», you force yourself to wear it anyway. Whenever you blame yourself for not daring to throw it away, you find the perfect excuse : it was sooo expensive ! Or : it was suuuch a bargain !

in your life
The false identity. The relationship, activity or lifestyle that forces you to play a part that is not consistent with your values and abilities, but is seen as a status symbol by somebody else or by a group you wanted to belong to.
The actions that earned you to be labelled as …(fill the blank) cost you so many efforts that you don’t dare to change the wrong label for the genuine «you». But when you are stuck and need to empower yourself to break free of your rut, this false identity is just dead load.

Intruder #2.

in your closet
The go-to. It is the opposite of the « fashion mistake ». This item is « so you » that you find yourself buying over and over again, only to discover you have already a pile in your closet (makes me think of four pairs of trousers, all brown with thin beige stripes, I presently have in my closet).

in your life
Automatic responses. They work as long as life is «fixed» (routines, relationships), so you don’t even notice how much they keep you from growing. But when facing an important change, hanging on to automatic response patterns definitely alters your ability to take up the challenge.

Sort out the wheat from the chaff.

Intruder #3.

in your closet
The shabby old favorite. This item may be comfortable and practical, but makes you look a hundred years old.

in your life
Fear of change.
It’s your «comfort zone» : a risk-free relationship, daily routine, way of thinking or life-style that protects you from the «unknown», but deprives you of the energy, boldness and shine you need the day you have to deal with the «unknown».

Intruder #4.

in your closet
The misfit.
The questionable item that someone else bought for you or advised you to buy. You wear it half-heartedly, to please the buyer or the fashion advisor. After all, these people meant well. The road to hell is paved with good intentions too.

in your life
The right path.
It may be the goal or the «right» way of living that someone else (family, society, a mentor, etc…) chose for you and you put up with it, not noticing that it weighs down your intrinsic motivation when you try to move forward in your life.
Or maybe you underestimate your potential and consciously dull your shine for other people, devoting yourself to fulfilling their goal. Of course, you can adopt somebody else’s goal and make it your own. How do you know it is really your own ? If you answer «yes» to the question : «Is it under my control ?»

Intruder #5.

in your closet
The outdated «must have». Clothes that made you look your best…in a previous episode. Today, they no longer suit your body shape, your complexion, your life style. They are too small / big / gaudy faded / plain / sophisticated to ever see the light of day.

in your life
Living in the past.
Ideals, resolutions, lists of «things to do before I am 40/50/80», values, expectations that you have grown out of. You put them in the back of your mind but somehow, they always come in your way when you need to make an important choice or to focus on your present life and future plans.

If you want to use this « intruder typology » to identify causes of emotional clutter, a good idea is to make a separate list for each type of intruder. For instance, you can name the first one «the false identity», then list areas of your life (jobs, relationships, habits, ideas, items…) where your personality is wrongly labelled. Make another list with examples of your «automatic responses», and so on.

Don’t mistake a familiar item (one which makes you feel you belong and which brings temporary comfort) with an important item (one which you love and which permanently strengthens your self-image).

But :

Don’t be too drastic either : when you clear up you wardrobe, keep in mind that clothing is supposed to be a means of expression, not an uniform. Your self-image needs to be expressed and conveyed to the next generation in more than one way. This applies to all areas of your life. Make space to grow not to grow weak.

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