Decluttering: Peace with your stuff

Manuela Höfner is a decluttering coach. The many facets of her story are utterly fascinating. She started out as a tax advisor. After happily helping people with their tax for 25 years she noticed that those who had their documentation in order were MUCH happier than those with lots of bits of paper stuffed in drawers for documentation. She got inspired to start her own business by reading the book of tidying up high-priestess Marie Kondo. On her journey to make people happy Manuela has expanded her knowledge in many different fields to get to the root of an organised mind.  

The vision

The first step in the journey to tidying is to align the desires and expectations of the unconcious mind with the concious mind.

This most important step sets up the whole process of tidying up. It is a prerequisite for all the hard work to come. Tidying up is not just the physical act of sorting out things and throwing some away. Professionals like Manuela come in, when plain ol’ motivation doesn’t work anymore. To kick-start a desire to declutter it is important to uncover the blockages and the pain that is connected with tidying up ones’ life.

This means regaining a feeling for what is valuable and worth keeping. (For an exploration of value, see my article on beauty and value)

Good and bad memories associated with objects can similarly prevent a successful detachment. The goal is to surround yourself only with items that make you feel good and don’t create tensions and anxiety. To draw a vision of what a life full of happiness looks like is a powerful way to align the interests of the mind with those of the spirit.

To help develop such a vision she uses methods from hypnotherapy, non-violent communication or the ZRM (a psychoanalysis based approach to enhance self management capabilities) among others. She continues to tailor her approach of setting up a vision of a clutter-free life to different personalities she is currently doing a training in ancient healing methods as well.  

The path

The physical act of tidying up is the most time consuming part of the journey. Items need to be assessed of their worthiness and many good-byes need to be said. Support during the process of actually decluttering is important because there are many memories and also unfulfilled promises connected to our stuff. When people realise that they kept that old bandsaw for this particular project, that they will really never start, it is easier to postpone throwing it out than admitting that this project wasn’t that important and will definitely never happen.

Especially when our time on earth runs out it is important to leave only good memories behind. And not piles of stuff for our family to sort through.

To help people with difficult decisions during advanced age or illness Manuela has done a one-year training as a volunteer end-of- life carer in a hospice. Originally she noticed that playing the harp for her friend, who was dying of cancer, helped calm her down. So she wanted to play for other people as well, to help them relax on their final journey. To do that, she had to get training, which she did. “The confrontation with death made me more alive.” she told me about the course. When death comes knocking it is easier to see that all stuff is transient.  

The party

“We remember the party and not the hardship.” Celebrating is a crucial part to acknowledge and maintain the vision. This means celebrating intermediate goals and the final situation.

The party is so important that Manuela even named her company “The tidying party” after it. The journey is supposed to be a celebration of tidying and not a difficult battle with the past.


A decluttering journey is also a trip into long-held beliefs about our own character. To succesfully declutter means to make peace with ourselves. Knowing that we are awesome just as we are. That we are just prevented from doing the thing that matter to us by some blockage or pain.

We can learn to work with that and give it its proper place. There is no point in trying hard to become calm about difficult decisions.

“When the pain goes, calmness arises by itself.” Manuela told me.

She expanded her interest in reconciliation on a trip to Australia. As a practice of acceptance and loving kindness, her work with reconciliation has helped her in her practice and private life.

I loved talking to Manuela about her work, her eagerness to learn more and help more and allow goodness to flourish. It was very inspiring to learn about her journey of starting her own company based on her desire to help people get happier with their stuff and their lives.

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