Marie Kondo-ing Your Personal Life

Is it cool with you if I use Marie Kondo’s name as a verb? It’s a pretty big compliment, I think– that a person could have such a great impact that simply hearing her name conveys a powerful message. We love you, Marie Kondo, for helping us fold laundry with intention and hold onto things that spark joy.

Back in 2016, Kondo wrote this article about her 6 rules of tidying. One visit to my house, and you’d discover I’m not one of her great success stories. But one visit to my office, and I could show you how crucial her rules are for tidying up our relationships. But why wait?! The day after Easter is a great time to start cleaning house… your emotional house, at least.

1- Commit to the task at hand. Healthy relationships take work. Counseling requires effort. Healing is messy. Progress isn’t linear. But once you commit to tidying your life and relationships, you can partner with professionals and develop strategies to help you succeed along the way. Go all in. That doesn’t mean you’ll do it perfectly; it just means you’re committed.

2- Imagine your ideal lifestyle. More friends? Less drama? More time? Less fluff? More meaning? It’s important to know your “why,” your purpose for Marie Kondo-ing your life. Without that big-picture vision, you’re more likely to fall off the wagon and right back into old habits and toxic relationships. Make a vision board, ‘pin’ things that speak to the future you see for yourself, journal, vlog… whatever your thing is, do it in a way that encapsulates your vision.

3- Discard. This sounds much more harsh when talking about relationships than clutter, I know. Let’s clarify. When Marie talks about discarding, she generally doesn’t intend for people to put everything they own in a dumpster and start over. She encourages people to approach messes with intentionality, only letting things hang around if they meet certain criterion. We can assess our relationships similarly. Are you holding onto toxic relationships just to use or be used? Are there acquaintances in your life who take without giving? (Not to be confused with a person in a difficult season, because I’ll be the first to tell you we’ll all be that person at least once in our lives) I desire healthy reconciliation for virtually every broken relationship, but that doesn’t mean it’s possible. Hope isn’t the same thing as genuine forgiveness and reconciliation. If a relationship is messy, that doesn’t mean it needs to be tossed; it means it’s probably time to reassess your level of investment.

4- Tidy by category, not location. Take inventory of all you’ve got. Check out your friends lists, your recently texted contacts, your followers, the people you may know. Popularity isn’t the same as emotional depth or security. So, where are your messy spots in life? Where have you taken in too much? What areas have you neglected? Check yourself and make sure you’ve been investing in real relationships with real people, because when the (hopefully-not-)real crap hits the fan, you’re going to need real people in your corner.

5- Follow the right order. To be clear, save the most emotional stuff for last. If you want to practice healthy boundaries, it’s wise to start by saying no to someone at the grocery store, not taking a bold stand at a family dinner (although that’s sometimes necessary, too). If you’re in an abusive relationship, plan first. None of these things are meant to be done in haste.

6- Does it spark joy? This is probably the single phrase Marie Kondo is best known for. I’ve often advised clients in criris: “If it doesn’t bring peace or joy during this difficult season, then don’t do it yet.” It’s not about what you’re pushing out of your life, it’s about the things and people you’re keeping closest to your heart.

Have you taken inventory and tried to clean house in your personal life? Share these ideas with a friend and try Marie Kondo-ing things for a while. PS: counseling is a great place to come up with a game plan!

Published by Jessica Gage, MA, LPC, NCC

I am a Licensed Professional Counselor in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (license #PC007550) and a National Certified Counselor.

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