Clutter’s Secret Messages
Here in the northeast USA, the sun is finally shining and the temperatures have risen above 60 degrees. I’ve got my windows open to air out the stale winter-ness that has been hanging around for far too long. I love feeling the breeze come in and the movement it creates in my house. I can almost see the stagnant energy flying about.
As the weather turns nicer, people’s moods are perking up, and everyone is talking about organizing, clearing out, and fresh starts. You almost can’t help but want to sort and purge when springtime arrives. What is that about?
I was talking with a friend the other day about the many layers within clutter. She was sharing with me how organizing her storage drawer has helped her to be more present and patient with her kids. “Who would’ve thought that by being able to easily find the lid to a container, I’d be a happier mom?”
That’s the thing about clutter. Just because it’s out of sight, doesn’t mean it’s out of mind. The areas of your life that need attention are constantly tapping you on the shoulder, sometimes whispering; sometimes screaming.
That tapping takes energy away from where you’d rather be focusing — on finding a new job or a new relationship, on increasing your financial stability, growing your business, or spending more time with your family. It’s this way that physical clutter creates emotional clutter in its path.
I talk with clients all the time who have bursts of motivation and make some progress on organizing their space and their mind, and then they hit a wall. They can’t seem to finish the job, and wonder why. Has this ever happened to you?
As a clutter coach, for me, this is where the magic is. It’s at this roadblock that we can find out what’s really going on with your clutter; what purpose it’s serving in your life. There’s a reason why you can’t get the clearing done, or why the stuff comes back again and again.
Consider a few common areas of clutter and what they might represent:
- Overflowing shelves of books. Ah, books. One of the top sources of clutter that people struggle to get rid of. Books become companions and friends, and you can almost feel guilty parting with them. However, they can also taunt you from those shelves, reminding you of the money you spent and the fact that you haven’t read them. And if any of them are of the self-help variety, they can hold the promise of change and a happier life, which then gives you permission to not take steps to make that life actually happen. “Once I read that book, my life will be better,” you tell yourself. But then the fear of that not being true stops you from actually reading it. What if life still sucks after you finish the book? Then what?
- Extra pounds. You don’t often think of weight as clutter, but that’s exactly what it is. The health and fitness business is a multi-billion dollar industry, as people try the latest fad or diet to lose weight. If it was just about eating less and exercising more, we’d all be thin! There’s much more to it than that. Exploring how those pounds might be serving you is, in my opinion, they key to releasing them for good. Are they a form of protection? Perhaps safeguarding your vulnerability or sensitivity? Do they help you feel invisible and insignificant? Are they an excuse to not put yourself out there in the world?
- A closet bursting with clothes. Spend some time flipping through the hangers in your closet while asking yourself how each item makes you feel. Do you love the options in there? Do you hang on to “thin clothes” or “fat clothes” that silently judge you whenever you get dressed? Is there an item that reminds you of the good old days, or of a past relationship? Any article in your dresser or closet that doesn’t represent the here and now has you either living in the past or the future. So what’s so bad or scary about the present moment?
- Draining relationships. Do you often feel taken advantage of? Walked on? Used? Wiped out after spending time with someone? Do you believe you’re worthy of being treated well? How might these toxic relationships be serving you? By surrounding yourself with takers or negative Nellies, are you suffocating your potential? Maybe it feels scary to succeed? Perhaps you fear judgment if you excel? Do you dread the idea of people wanting more from you if you show you have more to give? Not great at setting boundaries?
It’s all clutter. By looking under the hood at the payout to keeping your clutter, you can get into relationship with it instead of fighting it. You begin to see it as a messenger instead of a monster. And this allows you to understand it in a whole new way — a way that makes it much easier to say goodbye to it once and for all. You can then get your needs met in a healthier way, and truly start Living Out Loud.
I’d love to hear about your clutter and what it means in your life. Chat with me in the comments below.
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Thank you for this! I never saw my weight as clutter but I totally see now that is a real possibility! Thanks for your insight!
You’re welcome, Amy. I believe weight is almost the quintessential example of clutter with a message. No one wants to be overweight, so it’s worth investigating what that clutter is trying to tell you. How are you using it? What role does it serve? Give some love to those underlying issues and it’s easier to release that weight!