Setting aside time for reflection, with the aim of discovering one’s authentic self, is common advice in inspirational books and articles. The modern world’s distractions and responsibilities often lead to the feeling that somewhere along the way, we have gotten much too busy and lost a clear sense of who we really are. Meditation, long walks in the forest, and spiritual retreats are seen as ways of reconnecting.
When I started clearing clutter out of my house earlier this year, I wasn’t thinking about it in terms of improving my sense of self; I just wanted to tidy things up and feel more comfortable at home. I’m starting to feel that it’s all part of the same process, though. Letting go of physical clutter brings up thoughts and emotions having to do with each item’s source and what function it once served in my life. This in turn causes me to reflect on where I am now and what has changed since then. So I’m not just taking old stuff to the thrift store, but also clearing out my old emotions and routine behaviors associated with the stuff. I am making space for creative energy, positive thought patterns, and feeling more present in the here and now!
The subconscious mind is full of associations relating to the stuff in our environment. Even when something gets to be so much a part of everyday life that it doesn’t get noticed consciously, it still triggers emotions and habitual responses just by being there. So I would say that discovering one’s authentic self is not just about remembering the past; it’s also about clearing away whatever doesn’t feel right in the present.