Tidying Up (Part II) - Tidying Up Your Relationships

In our first post, Tidying Up (Part 1)- Tidying Up Your Life, we discussed how Marie Kondo’s principles using the KonMari method related to our lives in general. Now in this second part of the blog, we will apply the KonMari method through simple activities designed to help you better tidy up your relationships.

But first let’s go back to what the KonMari method is. The KonMari method is made up of six steps:







Now let’s apply these principles to our relationships…


Ask yourself the following questions:

1. Are you ready to take a good look at your relationships and engage in tidying them up?

2. Are you feeling like you’re not getting what you need out of a relationship?

3. Are you feeling stuck or obligated to be in a relationship that isn’t serving you anymore?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, it may be time to consider tidying up some of your relationships. Although it may be easy to say you will commit, it can be difficult to take action. Be patient with yourself as you gain the courage to facilitate nourishing relationships into your life.

Photo by  NeONBRAND  via Unsplash

Photo by NeONBRAND via Unsplash


I want you to get out a piece of paper and something to write or draw with. Imagine your ideal life and put it onto paper. You can write out words, names, or draw pictures, whatever portrays your ideal life. Now I want you to think about and draw or write down the names of the people who are in your ideal life, (not necessarily the people who are currently in it now).

This can be as many names or pictures as you see fit in your ideal life. There is no such thing as too little or too many. This exercise is meant to visually show you who you would like to be present moving forward. You may find this activity difficult. Perhaps the people in your idealized life are not the same people who are currently in your life. Maybe you’re unsure of who you’d ideally have in your life. Or maybe you will find it easy because you have intentional and reciprocal relationships already.

I hope that you can use this exercise to take an inventory of your current friends, family members, co-workers, and loved ones, and appreciate the value of those relationships. If you’re feeling like someone or something is missing, someone is unideal or no longer fitting, I hope that you feel empowered to intentionally move towards your ideal life by taking responsibility for your relationships.

Photo by KonMari Media Inc.

Photo by KonMari Media Inc.

When you come across something that you cannot part with, think carefully about its true purpose in your life. You’ll be surprised at how many of the things you possess have already fulfilled their role. By acknowledging their contribution and letting them go with gratitude, you will be able to truly put the things you own, and your life, in order. In the end, all that will remain are the things that you really treasure. To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose.”

-Marie Kondo


Photo by  Paul Gilmore  via Unsplash

Photo by Paul Gilmore via Unsplash

Is there someone in your past who you are still clinging onto? Do you hold onto the hope that one day you may reconnect with this person?

We cannot move forward into the future when we hold on to the past. Our past includes previous relationships. We need to give closure to those relationships that are no longer fit into our lives, for whatever reason.

Although giving closure to a relationship is not by any means easy, it is necessary for growth, especially if you are holding onto a past relationship that is toxic. As John Mark Green said, “As you remove toxic people from your life, you free up space and emotional energy for positive, healthy relationships.” I encourage you to consider the space that toxic relationships are holding in your life currently.

No matter how wonderful things used to be, we cannot live in the past. The joy and excitement we feel here and now are more important.
— Marie Kondo, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing


When analyzing our relationships I think we should look for quality not quantity. This means that it is better to have a few high quality relationships as opposed to many low quality relationships.

I want you to make a list. I want you to write the word “High” on one side of a piece of paper and “Low” on the other side with a line drawn vertically down the middle. List each relationship you have that you would consider high quality (wonderful, just, fair, reciprocal) under “High”.

Next, I want you to write the word “Low” and list each relationship that you would consider low quality (those relationships that do not make you happy, not significant, maybe toxic, no reciprocity). Now look over your lists.

Put your energy into the relationships listed in your high category and consider tidying up or repairing those relationships that you put into the low category. Many relationships start out in the high category and may tend to dip down as time progresses, just as a relationship may start off rocky and turn into an amazing partnership.

This activity serves as an inventory of the quality of your current relationships.

Not every person you meet in life will become a close friend or lover. Some you will find hard to get along with or impossible to like. But these people, too, teach you the precious lesson of who you do like, so that you will appreciate those.
— Marie Kondo, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing


Photo by  Jon Tyson  via Unsplash

Photo by Jon Tyson via Unsplash

At the end of the day it comes down to following your heart. Relationships can be complicated and messy. You need to ask yourself if it’s worth it to continue on or if you should call it quits. Regardless of your decision, relationships are catalysts to growth and as humans they are necessary for our survival. We need relationships with other humans to satisfy our needs for love, safety, and belonging.

As Dr. Stan Tatkin PsyD, MFT, said “Thankfully, relationships aren’t like baseball, where it’s three strikes and you’re out. The universe keeps pitching us new opportunities to redo, repair, and reinvent ourselves with another person.”

There will always be more opportunities for new relationships whether it’s the other person’s fault for the falling out or if it’s our own. You have to decide for yourself whether the relationship is worth pursuing or continuing. Follow your heart, trust your intuition, and you’ll know the answer.

Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest.
— Marie Kondo, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing


Photo by  Oskars Sylwan  via Unsplash

Photo by Oskars Sylwan via Unsplash

Take a good look at the lists you created that portray your current relationships. Which ones spark joy for you? Which ones make you light up and maybe even smile when you think about them? Which ones don’t?

Just like with tidying up our life, we need to only keep relationships that spark joy, because why wouldn’t we want to keep people in our lives who make us feel good? Gravitate towards people who are going to lift you higher, challenge you to be a better person, make you feel important to them, and those who admire you unconditionally. These are the people worth holding onto because they spark joy.

As you have read through these six steps and worked through the exercises, I hope you find clarity in the relationships in your life.

You deserve to be happy, to be loved, to be honored, and you deserve to be acknowledged through nurturing relationships that will fill up your cup, and not spill it.

As we conclude the winter season and spring is soon to begin, you may find this the right time to tidy up your life and your relationships by letting go and finding what sparks your joy. When you get lost, just go back to Marie’s principles using the KonMari method to ground you.


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Gina Binns is a graduate student intern at Space Between Counseling Services. She is currently studying at the Johns Hopkins University Clinical Mental Health Counseling program.  Once she graduates in May 2020, she plans to seek licensure as a LGPC.

Gina is also a recipe developer and has a passion for experimenting in the kitchen. When she’s not whipping up her own recipes, she can be found exploring the best food spots in Baltimore, as she eats her way through the city.