Creating Spaces for Success

by Crystal on March 21, 2009

lake yogaDoes your life sometimes seem crammed so full that you couldn’t possibly fit another thing in?  How often do you use the phrase “I don’t have the time…”?

You’re not alone.

One of the lessons I got from a free online course called “Ten Day Turnaround” (highly recommended) was that if you want to attract more things into your life, you first need to create the spaces for them to move into.

Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Trained to collect

It’s not quite so easy, though.  There’s a lot of training we get to believe that the more things we have, the more successful we are.  That means, when we’re not feeling particularly successful or confident, the first thing we usually look to do is collect more things or spend more money.  We joke about ‘retail therapy’, but it’s all too true.  Every ad you watch on TV reinforces this idea – you’re never good enough, successful, or popular enough unless you happen to have widget X, which is currently only the bargain price of…  You get the idea, right?

With enough of these messages crammed into our brains, after years of actually buying Widget X, Y, and every other offer that pushes the buttons, at some level (usually one we’re not conscious of) we start questioning if there’s something wrong with us – after all, the ads promised we’d be successful, happy and popular when we had them, so we spent up, but we’re still not happy.  Can’t be all those widget ads that lied. Must be me.

Add to this that the magazines and shows we watch tell us how we’re supposed to be (slim, beautiful, happy, etc) and eventually there’s a part of all of us that deep down believes we’re a failure – and desperately keeps trying the latest schemes/widgets/courses trying to ‘fix’ whatever is wrong with us.  The debt levels keep on spiralling upwards while our self confidence goes the other way.

There’s nothing wrong with you

The problem doesn’t lie with you, though.  The real issue is the unrealistic ideas of what we’re supposed to be that we’re force-fed from every angle, so that we accept them at such a deep level we never think to question.  You need to forget about the idea that your value comes from what you earn, how much you own, what you do or who you know.  Trying to keep up with what the media tells us we should all aspire to, but only 5% or less have ever achieved, is a mug’s game.  What you’re supposed to be is what you’re comfortable being: yourself.  But how do you start convincing yourself that you are worthwhile, when absolutely nowhere out there do we hear the message that our value comes from within?  How do you start believing that what’s important about you is simply who you are?  It seems all too hard…

Look around you.  If you’ve got clutter, debt or an overfull schedule, there’s a part of you that’s bought into the lies.  How do you think you would feel to throw those ideas off, and feel good about yourself without spending 80 hrs a week striving for a million dollar lifestyle you never get to enjoy?  Not to care if the neighbours have a better car/computer/home than you do, because you simply love the one you have – you can even feel free enough to be happy for them, along with anyone else who’s got things you don’t – leaving jealousy behind forever.  How about being able to look in the mirror at yourself and smile, instead of criticise?

Getting Clear

Over the past few months I’ve been working on clearing out some of the stuff I’ve collected.  It’s amazing how much sneaks in while you’re not paying attention – and I’ve discovered that while you keep paying attention to what you haven’t got, you keep collecting more.

I’ve discovered there’s not only a satisfaction in getting rid of things, but that paying attention to what you have is the perfect cure for the desires and cravings that keep us accumulating ever more possessions.  De-cluttering is actually empowering, in an unexpected kind of way.  You’re saying no to the mentality that you need ‘stuff’ to be someone.

There’s another side benefit, too.  You might find yourself, like I did, sweating out of all proportion to the cleaning up you’re doing.  Then you get on the scales, and discover that you’ve shed more than just the junk from the cupboard.  Someone’s even written a book about this side of it (I love the title): “Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat?” by Peter Walsh.

Here’s a challenge for you.  Find at least 3 things you can throw out, give away, or sell tonight, and get rid of them.  Do that every day for a week.  By the end of the week you might be pleasantly surprised how much lighter you feel – physically and emotionally.  It’s a wonderful feeling walking into a room that has open, clear spaces in it.

Why not give it a try?

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Dvornikov June 4, 2009 at 12:34 am

Моя мысль чуть-чуть отличается от изложенной автором, кому интересно, могу поделиться своими идеями. Мой ящик:[edited], Валерий.

Google Translate: My mind a little bit different from the author’s description, who are interested, I can share your ideas. My account: [edited], Valery.

– Editor’s Note: Sharing email addresses on public comments isn’t such a good idea, all kinds of programs can pick them up and add you to spam lists (which I hate with a passion). That’s why I deleted your email address from this comment.


Crystal March 22, 2009 at 3:46 pm

You’re welcome, Harold. I’m not on a mac, but I agree – it is very easy to spend so much time looking forward and filling every moment that you forget the times you’ve already spent. Non-tech, I know, but journalling and meditation are two more great ways to start reclaiming and revisiting some of those moments, along with scheduling free time for yourself (like the ‘unschedule’ approach.

Best of luck with allowing yourself those empty spaces…



Harold Shinsato March 21, 2009 at 11:54 pm

Hi Crystal, great post. Thanks for the insights. I acquired another cool gadget recently, Apple’s iLife ’09. It automatically split up all my photos into events. I was stunned at all the “stuff” I’ve been doing the last few years. Even though it seemed I should be going about being busy, I felt compelled to organize and sort it all.

I’m amazed at the power of the urge to fill up my time with events and activities. I hadn’t realized that I’m doing a lot of great things, and that it’s great to get a chance to digest it – to have more empty space in my calendar. Thanks for helping me see this more clearly. Clutter clearing isn’t only about things, it’s also about activities.



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