Lessons from a Raggedy Washcloth

The other day, I took a washcloth out of the linen closet and noticed it had a hole in it. It’s part of the towel set we got at our wedding shower 16 years ago. As I lathered it up to wash my face, I noticed a subtle, sinking feeling in my stomach.

“I always have to settle,” that little voice inside my head said. “Even my facecloth sucks.”

As quickly as that thought came, this next one flew in:

“Oh please, you should be happy to have one at all. Geez, talk about first-world problems, Kerri.”

And so begins the dance between “I deserve more than scraps,” and “You’re fortunate to even have scraps.”

But I want to use towels I love dammit!

I decided to challenge my thinking and, at the same time, let Little Kerri know that she matters. After finishing with the holey face cloth, I put it in the laundry to give it a final wash before I added it to the donations for the animal shelter. I’m sure they’ll be as happy to get it as I am to give it.

This struggle, in one form or another, can show up regardless of what you wrestle to let go of, but there is something particularly intimate about linens. Being such personal items, their meaning points directly to your soul and your worth.

Each time you tolerate a stained sheet, scratchy towels, or toxic-filled face products, you reinforce thinking that your needs aren’t as important as everyone else’s. And if you’re willing to accept crappy linens, where else do you settle for crumbs?

On one of our Clutter Clear Your Life member webinars this month, Sylvie talked about a beautiful towel she loves. She bought it while traveling and has it tucked away, awaiting a special time to use it.

“If I see my husband reaching for it, I slap his hand. It’s my towel!”

“I love that you’ve claimed it as your own,” I said. “So…. why not use it?”

“I don’t want to wear it out and then no longer have it,” Sylvie said.

“Then maybe you could treat it as a tapestry and hang it up so you can enjoy looking at it.”

“Well, that’d be silly. It’s a towel,” Sylvie said.

“Sillier than not allowing anyone, including yourself, to use it?”

Sylvie giggled. “Fair enough,” she said.

She agreed to give some thought to using the towel, and more importantly, to the beliefs that are telling her she shouldn’t. That’s where the real issue lies — an outdated story whose time has come.

I reminded Sylvie that life is uncertain. Whether it’s a sweater you love, your mother’s china, or a special towel from your travels, use them today. You never know what tomorrow brings. Enjoy what you love now and get rid of the rest. If you struggle to do so, inquire as to why because there’s a lesson waiting to be learned.

By looking at why you keep things you don’t love, need, or use, or don’t use things you love, you can identify which of the core causes — limiting beliefs, a lack of boundaries, or unrealistic expectations — are at the root of your clutter. When you do, you can work on clearing these blocks which then makes letting go of the surface clutter so much easier.

You might think it’s just about being unwilling to let go of something, whether that’s a thought, thing, or person, but there’s a bigger block behind this unwillingness and that offers an awesome opportunity to dig deep and heal aspects of your life you’ve likely struggled with for a long time.

Although this month in Clutter Clear Your Life, we’re focusing on clearing out old or outdated linens and cleaning products, these items are really a gateway to deeper, foundational conversations. As is all clutter.

So what will you dig into this week? Let me know in the comments below!

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