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Existential Editing: Cutting Back On What You Don’t Need In Your Life

You know those times when the same message keeps on turning up in your life? Over and over? Where you keep recognising the same idea in many different places (and you know you could apply it to yourself)? Well, I’m having one of those times.

And the message is about editing. Cutting back. Slicing off the excess to leave some empty space.

To leave more room for simply living.

(Something in me relaxes even just thinking about it – how about you?)

So let’s have a look together for a moment and see what you might have to gain by losing some things…

We live in a busy world. A world of “more. Of buy one get one free. Of building bigger homes so we can own (hoard?) more stuff. Of cramming just one more thing into our schedule because we “should” or because it shows “good time management” or efficiency. A world of more accessibility and connectivity, where more people can reach us more of the time.

But has all of this “more-ness” invaded our existential spaces? Has it fooled us into believing that this gives us more life? Has it blinkered us into forgetting that there simply are limits – important ones – existential ones. And that they bring a power all of their own.

Perhaps there’s a place for balance.

For less of the “more.”

And here’s where I’ve been noticing this lately:

In a writing class, where I was reminded of the vitality of editing. The power of cutting out the chatter. For, though it can sting at the time, it makes your piece stronger.

In a web content class, where “white space” was crucial – the blank places where the eye and the mind can rest and where the message can stand out in. And be stronger.

In a conversation, where someone mentioned the style icon (1883-1971) Coco Chanel and her advice to “take one thing off” before you leave the house – leave one distracting accessory or unnecessary clothing item behind. And make what’s left stronger.

All together, these events sort of clicked in my mind and I wondered about existential editing – what clutter I could cut from my life to leave more space for the bits that really matter. To have more room to breathe

And exactly then, I spotted another therapist, Lisa Kift, tweeting about her “life trimming scissors”:

“I think it’s time to take the scissors out again – to cut away a few things in my life so I’m not so busy. Anyone like to borrow them?”


So what about you?

What might you cut back to make your life stronger?

What can you lose to find more clarity?

What can you clear out of the way to make room for that restorative “blank space” – where the heart and the mind can rest in?

Space to simply be…


Photo and text copyright: Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar
Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar (Grad Dip Counselling & Psychotherapy) is a writer, blogger and Sydney psychotherapist in private practice at One Life Counselling & Psychotherapy. Gabrielle also facilitates telephone support groups for people who are living with cancer, for their carers, and for people who have been bereaved through a cancer experience. She was the former editor of a journal on counselling and psychotherapy and she provides regular therapeutic updates on facebook and Twitter @OneLifeTherapy.
Existential Editing: Cutting Back On What You Don’t Need In Your Life

Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar

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APA Reference
Gawne-Kelnar, G. (2011). Existential Editing: Cutting Back On What You Don’t Need In Your Life. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 29, 2020, from


Last updated: 27 Sep 2011
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