Welcome, Clutter

By the time someone engages the services of a professional organizer, they have often had some sort of a precipitating event.  I like to think of it as the 3 D’s – a death, downsizing or divorce.  Of course, there are other reasons too but those significant life changes are big enough to prompt action in the most reticent.  Especially if you’ve been paying storage unit fees. (Fun fact: The national average cost for a storage unit is almost $90/a month.)

Clutter is viewed as an enemy.  Or an unwelcome guest.  A lot of times I’ll hear things like “Just get rid of it!” or “I am so tired of this crap!”  And boy, oh boy.  I GET IT. I love pitching stuff and have what is probably a pathological fondness for dumpsters.

However, my clutter-is-an-enemy view on this is changing.  I am learning to look at clutter as a messenger.  Instead of having an adversarial view of it, get curious about it and view it as an opportunity to understand yourself better.

This is imperative if you are going to keep the clutter from returning.

For example.  Is the storage unit really holding unprocessed grief that you’re having trouble letting go?  Are the baby items tucked away in the basement representing difficulty moving forward with life?  (After all, your babies are now in their 30s.)

Is the stuff you’re storing for your adult children representing your need for boundaries? (Ahem, I might be just a little familiar with this one.)  Is the wardrobe from 20 years and 30 pounds ago filling you with shame over your aging body?

Another biggie – Fear of lack, otherwise known as I-might-need-this-someday syndrome. I’ll let you in on a little organizer’s secret: “I might need this one day” is code for NEVER.  Fear drives this behavior and yes, it’s something that folks can get mighty touchy over.  (This is the part where some clients will tell me about the time they threw out a broken can opener they kept for 30 years but then they realized they needed it the day after they tossed it.)

This topic deserves a stand-alone column.

Sure, you can go on a pitch fest but it is the deeper work that provides sustainable results.

Our cluttered schedules are another invitation.  In our culture, we wear our busyness as a badge of honor.  And this is killing us.  Literally.  We humans were never intended to be connected and busy 24/7.

When there is no white space on your calendar or scheduled down time to reconnect with yourself and loved ones, it is only a matter of time before stress related health issues begin to arise.

What compels you to be so busy and distracted?  Most of us are driven by a sense of shame.  We have a need to show the world how much we have to offer.  Now, there is nothing wrong with that in and of itself but when your crazy-train life is speeding down the tracks, something is amiss.

When I coach clients, one of the first things I have them do is inventory everything they do in a typical week. They are usually shocked at the length of the list.

Next, I ask them if they would be okay with giving their list to a beloved child or friend and demand that they accomplish everything on that list. This often causes tears to flow.

Like the proverbial frog in the hot water, we don’t realize how all the little demands on our time add up to a packed schedule.

Finally, the heart clutter. Why do you find yourself getting angry all over again for an event that happened 10 years ago? Why are you enduring a soul sucking job without setting a course of action for a new position? What compels you to hang out with a negative person who offers nothing but complaints and criticism?

All of these types of clutter come with a message. Before you start pitching, listen to what it is saying. Heed its message and then I’ll meet you at the dumpster!

Theresa Winn Lode struggles with boundaries too as she is currently storing her grown ass children’s stuff and realizes she must practice what she preaches.  She cusses a little, loves coaching and delights in throwing out shit.  Find her at www.unclutteryourlife.net or in her Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/Unclutter-Your-Life-With-The-Zany-Sage-201931937083832

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