It’s time for another round of Clutter FAQs! This is when I share some frequently asked questions about all things clutter, goals, dreams, visions, stuckness, feelings of overwhelm, etc. because I know if one person has the question, many more of you do, too.
See if you can relate to any of these…
Q: I have a bunch of old photos of me and my daughter’s father when we were together. We are no longer together. I want to clear space for a new relationship down the road and I don’t any want relationship clutter.
However, I’m wondering if I should save the photos for my daughter. I don’t want to look at them anymore but it might make her happy to see the love that she came from. Help?
A: I can appreciate the conundrum here. If you’re interested in finding love, hanging onto items from past relationships can sabotage that as they take up space in the relationship area of your life. Without knowing how old your daughter is, if she is an adult, I’d offer her the photos directly. If she’s not interested, then recycle away! If, however, she’s still young, consider packing a few of the photos away in a memory box to give to her, say, upon high school graduation.
Adding them to other memorabilia that you think she may enjoy can deaden the energetic pull they have on you as they are among other things being saved for an intentional purpose.
In addition, I’d recommend spending a little time with the feelings you have about your ex. Whether anger, sadness, or regret, this clutter likely takes up more space in your life than the photos.
Q: What if someone’s feelings are hurt after you get rid of an item that they gave to you?
A: Well, then their feelings are hurt! OK, I know it’s not quite that easy, but in a sense, it is. Their feelings are their responsibility, not yours. This, of course, doesn’t mean you intentionally go out and mistreat people, but if you’re considering keeping something only because you don’t want to hurt the giver’s feelings, then I’d encourage you to look at where else in your life you operate out of guilt or obligation.
You can thank the person again for their thoughtfulness and tell them you hope they understand that you’ve decided to pass the joy on to someone else.
While it may not be the most comfortable conversation, we need to be willing to have these kinds of exchanges if we’re ever to blaze our own trails.
Q: A lot of my clutter has to do with creative ideas that did not make it all the way to fruition. How can I limit the mess without shutting down my creativity?
A: As you look over incomplete creative ideas, ask yourself which ones still light you up, if any. Which ones are you hanging on to over a feeling of “should”? Do any of them represent who you think you should be instead of who you truly are?
By giving yourself permission to say goodbye to ideas whose time has come, you open up space for new, flourishing creativity. So instead of thinking of eliminating the mess as shutting down your creativity, what you’re really doing is nurturing your creativity where it resides today.
Q: All our stuff makes me feel sad because I see the parts of our past, who we were, dreams of activities never completed, and who we are now. I feel angry that stuff is everywhere and that we don’t have the energy or desire to put things back where they belong. I’m angry that no one else seems to care. I’m angry over a feeling of being dumped on all my life and now I am swimming in that dump. I try to keep up, but with the daily life of work, kids, dishes, and laundry, there’s no time or energy for this other stuff. How do I get out from under all of this?
A: I can really appreciate how suffocating it all can feel. Given your question, it’s clear to me that the physical stuff you mention is merely a symptom of deeper clutter. Most stubborn clutter is, so you’re certainly not alone!
You likely don’t have the energy or desire to put things away because you feel like the only one who cares; because you’ve felt dumped on your whole life; because your days are much busier than you’d like, leaving you little energy or time to tend to the clutter.
This is the core clutter — the feelings, the disrespect you feel, the exhaustion of daily adulting, and the lack of support around you. Instead of worrying about the physical items, consider talking to your family and asking for their help. Share how you’re feeling. Ask for what you need.
When you address the deeper truth (versus nagging your family), you’re far more likely to have them rally around you. Instead of “For the 10th time, can you put your clothes in the laundry?” try “I feel completely disrespected when you leave your clothes on the floor because I’ve asked you several times to put them in the basket.”
Do you see how you’re discussing your feelings instead of the clothes? By cleaning up some core clutter, you increase your chances of getting the support you need and deserve.
With your kids (depending on their age), you could start a nightly pick up routine where everyone puts 10 things away each night before bed. This is a fun, practical way to get young children involved and teach them about responsibility and pulling their weight.
Whatever your family dynamic, give some thought to how you can be more direct in asking for what you need from them. No hinting! No passive-aggressive actions! Instead, just straightforward honesty.
Do this and the clearing of physical clutter will be a breeze!
OK, those are your FAQs for this round! I hope they give you something to think about and inspire you to take action today.