Finding Joy Within

The KonMari Method™ of tidying is deeply personal work that requires confronting your past, envisioning your future and taking action in the present. For tidying to be life-changing, you must first know yourself and find joy within.

For more on how to cultivate a joy-sparking relationship with yourself, we spoke with award-winning clinical therapist and interpersonal architect Dr. Judith Coché. Specializing in couples therapy with over four decades of experience, Dr. Coché insists that intimacy with one’s self is essential to – and the bedrock of – all partnerships. Here are her guiding principles:

  • Rule 1Know Yourself – for Real
  • Rule 2Own Your Feelings
  • Rule 3Keep Self-Talk Tidy
  • Rule 4Be Gentle

Know Yourself – for Real

It might sound obvious to suggest simply getting to know yourself, but true self-reflection and analysis can be challenging and uncomfortable. In order to be intimate with yourself, you have to know who you are and what you want.

To gain clarity, Dr. Coché recommends reading a few obituaries – then writing your own. She also advises making a 15 year plan.

Thinking about your legacy in concrete terms is a powerful gut-check moment. Dr. Coché likens it to tidying the mind: “When you remove the clutter of other people’s expectations, you’re left with a clear view of your own aspirations.”

Setting short-term goals – like a three or even five year plan – can feel limiting and stressful, but imagining where you want to be in a decade or more leaves space for possibility. Establish your joy-sparking goals and work backwards from there.

Own Your Feelings

When you come across something you don’t want to explore, it’s probably important that you do. Take inventory of what you find during self-reflection. Check in with your body, where emotions are housed and experienced as physical sensations.

Deep breathing and meditation are ways to connect with these feelings. Go inward, listen to your body, and then – once you’ve associated your physical reaction with an emotion – label it: This knot in my belly is dread. The warmth in my chest is joy.

If this process seems strange, Dr. Coché promises it will feel more natural – and happen more quickly – with practice. It’s important to stay with it. Don’t block the feelings.

Keep Your Self-Talk Tidy

The way you speak to others has a direct impact on your relationship with them. So, too, does the way you speak to yourself.

“When you’re intimate with another person, your job is to listen to how they feel,” says Dr. Coché. “Not to correct or dispute them. The exact same rules apply when talking to yourself.”

An honest dialogue with yourself makes it easier to identify behaviors that make you feel bad and behaviors that make you feel good. Joy, checked!

“There is magic in being emotionally attached to someone else, but that’s not the whole picture. It’s impossible to be more intimate with anyone than you can be with yourself. ”

Be Gentle

The principles outlined above require self-discipline and effort. If you fall short, it’s important to be forgiving.

“There is magic in being emotionally attached to someone else, but that’s not the whole picture,” says Dr. Coché. “It’s impossible to be more intimate with anyone else than you can be with yourself.”

“Tidying is a dialogue with one’s self,” Marie adds. “Only you know what sparks joy for you, so discover and honor who you really are.”