It is amazing to me how much clutter people can accumulate. On occasion I watch “Clean Sweep,” a television show where designers and professional organizers go into homes of people who have clutter. And I am not just talking about a few things. I am talking about rooms that they can barely walk through. The place is a mess and just looks chaotic. When the mess is all cleaned and they have gotten rid of the majority of stuff, every client admits they feel less stressed and more in control. Clutter is chaos out in the open. Clutter is simply an outward manifestation of what is happening on the inside. If there is clutter and chaos on the outside, you can bet that there is confusion and chaos on the inside.
Clutter is a representation of what is happening in our lives. Perhaps we are trying to bury ourselves, literally, so that we don’t have to face other problems. Perhaps the clutter is a protection mechanism, with lots of clutter no one can get close. Whatever the clutter is keeping you from facing, dealing with or protecting you from, it is also holding you back. Clutter keeps us in confusion and chaos, and there is no way we can be our best with so much clutter.
As my friend Debra Clem would say, “It is crazy making.” That is so true about clutter. It will drive us crazy, and can become so overwhelming we don’t even know where to start. Clutter is one of my things I deal with and I use clutter as a gage to tell me when I am becoming overstressed and overwhelmed. When the clutter starts appearing, I know it is a sign. However, I no longer let it get out of control. I deal with it by filing, putting away and sometimes even throwing stuff away. I no longer feel compelled to keep things that I don’t love and I don’t use. As the organizer on Clean Sweep says, “Just because your mother gave it to you doesn’t mean you have to keep it.” The memories are in our head, not in the object. My rule of thumb is I only keep things I love and everything must have a home. I no longer have a junk drawer that is just creating a place to store junk. If I don’t love it and use it, I don’t keep it.
Clutter is keeping you in chaos. Get rid of the clutter and you will reduce the chaos on the outside and the inside, and perhaps even rid yourself of it completely. Figure out why you must hold on to everything, and then get the help you need to move it out. Don’t try to do this alone. Clutter can have some real emotional baggage attached to it. Get the help of a professional organizer or a counselor, therapist or coach, that can help you move beyond your clutter.
A year ago I worked with a client with major clutter concerns. I coached her to hire a professional organizer, as I had done – and it truly changed my life. My client was so attached to her clutter that she would run out to the garbage after the organizer left and take the junk out of the trash. The organizer had to start taking the bags of clutter with her when she left. Eventually my client let go and now lives a calmer more organized life.
If you hold on to clutter, it means you are holding onto past issues, hurts and pain from the past, or perhaps you don’t want to face the future. Whatever the clutter represents, until you get rid of it you can’t handle the real issues and move on. Letting go of clutter is about reclaiming your life.
Here’s to taking action,