During my Clutter Clear Your Life Q&A this week, a member asked me how I stay interested in a topic most people want to run from: clutter. She followed up with, “What drives you to stay the course and help us through our deepest shit?”
I chuckled at the question because I’d never been asked it and it’s a really good one! Why am I so passionate about helping people get rid of clutter and make space in their lives for the things, thoughts, people, and pursuits that really matter? Because when you learn to see your obstacles as catalysts for change, the world opens up wide.
Clutter offers an incredible opportunity to identify and heal deep wounds, blocks, and fears. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t love clutter in my life, but once I started asking what the stubborn clutter represented, I saw things in a whole new way.
Clutter that you struggle to let go of is a strong tap on your shoulder inviting you to look deeper. It might be a manifestation of a limiting belief, the need for a boundary in a draining relationship, or a call-out from your soul asking you to take better care of yourself.
When thinking of what stands in your way, consider these three types of clutter:
- Simple – what you can easily get rid of without a lot of effort
- Symptomatic – what you know you want to get rid of but can’t seem to do it, and
- Core – the reason or cause behind why you can’t get rid of your symptomatic clutter
Let’s say you’ve pulled some clothes out from your closet that you’re ready to donate. You easily bag them up and drop them off. This is simple clutter.
Now let’s say you bag them up and they sit in the corner of your bedroom or in the trunk of your car. You keep “forgetting” to drop them off, or you think of it but distract yourself with something else. This is symptomatic clutter. There’s more to the story and it’s time to dig in.
- What do you think about when you look at these items?
- What do you feel?
- What would you be donating with the clothes? Memories? Potential?
Drilling down using questions such as these will get you to the core clutter – that which is the real thing that needs clearing. Core clutter falls into one of three categories:
- Unrealistic expectations – planning to take on too much when your resistance would rather bite-size pieces
- Limiting beliefs – an outdated story that you are validating with your clutter
- A need for boundaries – are you over-giving leaving little for yourself?
It can also be a combination of some or all of the above, and in fact it often is.
Once you determine which of the core causes are in play, you can work on addressing the source. When you do that, the symptomatic clutter no longer needs to hang around to get your attention.
This is how I stay interested in this topic because when you excavate the message in the mess, your clutter, in all its forms, can help you identify, design, and realize the vision you have for your life. And that’s pretty damn cool.