Do I Have To?
Are you nervous to explore feng shui more deeply because you’re afraid you’ll have to do things to your space that you won’t want to? Or, worse, that you’ll discover you’ve been doing things that have actively been hurting your chances of getting what you want in life? I’ve discussed feng shui “rules” and how we can interpret them for today more generally in a past post, but now let’s discuss how feng shui applies on an individual level (and how you can give yourself permission to do things differently if that feels better).
What’s REALLY Going On
Feng shui is about arranging your space so that it supports you as you move in a desired direction. As feng shui practitioners, we believe that place and our environments are tools that can be used when strategizing for a successful and contented life. However, with feng shui, there seems to be a lot of fear and concern around “doing it wrong,” with the ultimate fear that we will put something in the wrong place and hurt ourselves from getting what we want out of life. The crucial thing to remember is that feng shui is not a one-size-fits-all practice. The amount of clutter that may make one person feel overwhelmed may not affect another person at all. And while one person may want to decorate an entire room in yellow because that brings them joy, that color might not be allowed in someone else’s home because it triggers bad memories. What works for each of us is different, so it’s perfectly ok to interpret recommendations differently based on what might work for you. Feng shui is not a fear-based, standardized practice.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t some basic and unconscious human reactions that we all have to certain environmental stimuli to one degree or another. This is what I mean when I say that our environments can impact us just as much as we impact our environments. We as humans need certain things to survive and thrive (like access to sustenance, nurturing, and clear exits), and we will do our best to avoid other things (like rodents, aggression, and anything that can hit us). But these can play out in various, and sometimes subtle, ways. Some of us may feel overwhelmed or blocked by clutter and disorganization in our spaces (potentially contributing to us feeling like we don’t have clear pathways to an exit), which may increase feelings of hopelessness or make us feel resistant to taking a risk, like accepting a new job or going on a date. Or, we may not feel safe in certain parts of our homes (like attics, basements, or other poorly lit areas where rodents or spiders can live and where we can be caught off guard), which may contribute to feelings of anxiety or nervousness. If we don’t address these basic needs, it’s not that we will bring on bad luck or cause negativity, but we’ll feel better in our spaces, bodies, and minds, and we might find that life flows a bit easier.
All This Is to Say…FORGET the Shoulds!
What matters more in feng shui is focusing on what things mean to you and how they make you feel instead of anxiously focusing on doing what’s prescribed or what an expert might say is right. We all have different life experiences, different goals, and different things that make us feel comfortable in our spaces. Some feng shui practitioners swear that hanging a red tassel or ribbon in your home will bring prosperity and good luck. Now, of course, we all want to attract good luck, but what if you really have an aversion to the color red? And what if tassels remind you of something negative from your past? How can something bring good luck if every time you look at it you feel bad? In this case, we might wonder if there is something else we can use as a good luck talisman that has a better meaning for you, like a crystal, a coin, or a family heirloom? Just because you don’t want to hang a red tassel in your home doesn’t mean that you’re looking to block good luck and prosperity! It just means that we need to adjust the symbol we use to one that is meaningful to you and reflects your tastes, history, and preferences. Regardless of how you get there, if you believe something will help to bring you good luck and prosperity, it probably will.
A common question I’m asked by clients and friends is whether they need to keep certain things in their home that they don’t like, such as a family heirloom or pictures of people they don’t have good feelings about. The simple answer is absolutely not! As with the red tassel example above, you are under no obligation to display things in your home that make you feel bad; in fact, I would encourage you to get rid of them (unless you are saving them for future generations, in which case you can pack them up and store them away). You also don’t have to arrange your space in a specific way if it doesn’t feel right or use colors and shapes that you don’t vibe with. It does way more harm to constantly be reminded of things that don’t make you feel good instead of “not following the rules.” (And, sorry, what are these rules, again?) Use feng shui recommendations as guidelines (and truly as recommendations) and adjust them as needed for your personal situation to achieve the desired result and to help you feel good about your space and where you’re headed in life!
So when it comes to feng shui, the answer is no, you really don’t have to.