Lemme hit you with a truth bomb right out of the gate:
Stubborn clutter is almost always an indication of a non-clutter issue.
Think about the clutter in your life — books, magazines, draining friendships, clothes. Sure, it’s all annoying and it would be great to have it gone. And wouldn’t it be nice if wishing it away was enough?
So what else is contributing to this clutter hanging around?
To excavate the root issue, start by feeling into your body as you think about the clutter. Are you tensing up? Feeling a bit nauseous? Overwhelmed?
Pay close attention to what you tell yourself about your stuff. For example, do you say things like:
- “I can’t seem to get my act together,”
- “I wish someone could wave a magic wand and make this all go away,”
- “I don’t even know where to begin,” or
- “It’s all too overwhelming.”
When you stop to think about what your inner dialogue is saying, it can help point you to the real clutter you should be focusing on. Things like limiting beliefs that you’re validating with the stuff, or a desire for help or support that you’re not asking for, or self doubt that you can handle large tasks.
When something deeper is at play, any physical clutter is going to be tough to clear because it’s there to alert you to a soul need. By taking the time to address that need, you’ll find it much easier to let go of things. And by dealing with the true source of your clutter, you up your chances of it never returning.
Think of those times when you had the best intentions of organizing your linen closet or your office. You had an open afternoon, and you planned to dive in and leave the space sparkling when you’re done.
At the end of the day, however, all you’d accomplished was binge-watching Netflix and poking around on Facebook.
Now go back to that scenario and imagine starting your clearing with your resistance instead of the items in the closet. Before you pull one item off the shelf, you spend five minutes tuning in to see what you’re feeling. You give space and voice to the desire to distract yourself with laundry. You check in to see what your block is trying to tell you.
If you find it difficult to identify the message, set a timer and start with 15 minutes of clearing the physical clutter. Sometimes you need to put your hands on the items to wake up the message and stir up the emotions. As soon as you feel anything rumbling up, pause and be with that feeling.
Despite what you tell yourself, your lack of success could very well have nothing to do with you being disorganized or unable to focus. Perhaps your focus was just on the wrong thing.
So here’s your challenge for the week:
Revisit an area of clutter that has given you trouble in the past. Bring along a notebook or journal. Set a timer for 15 minutes and answer this question: “What is it about this clutter that I find so challenging?” Then let it flow. Free-write. No censoring. No editing. Just let whatever wants to come out, come out.
Now, take a few deep breaths to get centered, and then read what you’ve just written. Read it with empathy. Read it with kindness and understanding. Let your Little One know that you’re right there with her (she’s the one who’s resistant).
After some loving reassurance, revisit the clutter and see if it feels any differently. Some other soul needs might now surface, and if they do, give them the same attention. If you feel ready to dive in and sort, go for it.
This challenge isn’t about clearing physical items. Instead, it’s about identifying the message in your mess. Let that define your success and you’ll begin to heal aspects of your life you’ve likely struggled with for a long time.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on all of this. Join the conversation in the comments below.
And if you want to dig even deeper, join my for my video course: Clear Your Clutter and Change Your Life. It’s a radical, new approach to clutter clearing that has helped hundreds of students over the years. And I have an early bird special going on until Monday, August 27. You can read all about it and grab your spot here.