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Five things Marie Kondo can teach us about recovery

Best Sober Living

If you haven’t already: check out the Netflix series, Tidying up with Marie Kondo. It’s entertaining, and inspiring to watch Ms. Kondo work her life-changing, tidying magic in the messiest, most cluttered of homes. Her approach stresses two practices: first, look at EVERYTHING you own and let go of the things you no longer need. Second, make sure everything you keep is visible, celebrated and utilized. Ms. Kondo’s wisdom extends beyond tackling a cluttered home. A lot of her methods have broader applications, especially for people in recovery. Here’s what Marie Kondo showed us about the life changing magic of getting sober:

1. Be searching and fearless: Ms. Kondo’s method stresses an unflinching approach to cleaning. Namely, get everything out and into a pile. That’s a pretty great analogy for a searching and fearless moral inventory. Just like Ms. Kondo insists that organizing a room must first start with pulling every item out and piling it on the floor: so should any self-examination aim to get every thought, idea, behavior, memory, feeling and secret out and into an inventory or shared with a sponsor.

2. Respect your Feelings: Part of what makes Ms. Kondo’s joy for organizing so infectious is the kind and gentle way she regards possessions. Yes, many of these items are headed for the Goodwill or possibly even the dump, but they once had a purpose and deserve respect. Old behaviors and ideas, memories happy and sad, regrets and fears – each of these things are a part of who you are and they are precious. It’s okay to thank them for being a part of you and helping you get to where you are now.

3. Don’t Live in the Past: People hold on to things out of nostalgia. Ticket stubs, clothes that don’t fit, subway tokens to a city you don’t live in anymore…we all have things we’re keeping squirreled away because we can’t let go of that time or place where those items came from. In recovery, we can horde old hurts, romanticize our using or literally keep phone numbers or physical items from our using past. Big Mistake. Put on your sobriety blinders and let go of those memories and definitely get rid of any physical items or contact information related to your using days.

4. Practice Gratitude: Letting go of things is really hard. And Ms. Kondo is brilliant in her approach to this. She invites her clients to thank the items they are discarding. To that electric blue shirt you’ve had for years and never actually wear because electric blue looks terrible on you, say “thank you shirt, for showing me that electric blue is not a color that I like to wear.” It’s kind and enlightening and can make parting with something feel that much easier. When it comes to recovery work, you can simply say “Thank you that I get to be sober and do these things. They show me who I am and help me be the person that I want to be.”

5. Uncover and Discover: Many people in recovery are amazed to rediscover parts of themselves in sobriety. After so many years of altering our state and dulling emotions with alcohol and alcohol we can lose track of who we are. In recovery you have to feel all the feelings and deal with life on life’s terms – but that is also where you’ll start to know your truest self. Much like a closet liberated of its clutter, filled only with joyful, neatly presented clothes – life in recovery begins to feel open, easy and filled with possibility.


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