It seems so simple. Find the clutter, get rid of it. But there’s more to clutter than what we see on the surface. Those stacks of sagging boxes in the garage, rogue receipts, and piles of paper jammed into every crevice in your office, the endless plastic bins of holiday decorations and your teenager’s kindergarten artwork you’ve been meaning to organize–yes, it’s clutter, but it’s also often a reflection of something deeper tied to your memories, emotions or stress.
When the pain is too great, and we just don’t have the words–that is when clutter speaks. Many people, just like you, who desperately want to declutter their homes and lives once and for all, are stopped dead in their tracks by hidden obstacles. Those obstacles are not actually the physical clutter; rather, the emotions buried behind, beneath and within the clutter itself.
Often people believe their clutter is a result of laziness, sloppiness, chaos or a lack of organizational skills. But that is absolutely never true. Clutter is a physical manifestation of whatever mental or emotional block we may be experiencing. Clutter is an external demonstration of our internal storms. You see, clutter does for us what we can’t do for ourselves. And when it rears its ugly head in the form of an overcrowded closet or overrun desk space, that clutter is asking you to take inventory of your life and deal with the real issues tied to the heart of that pile of junk.
Processing the Past
We are our stuff, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Your clutter is completely individual to you. It’s a collection of your hopes, dreams, and experiences, and it’s a demonstration of the unique way your mind works. Dig up an old box of memorabilia from your past. That person you were at that particular moment in time–what did he or she choose to save? When you hold these precious items: photos smiling back at you, awards, trinkets, journals, what memories do they bring back? I’d venture to say that the things you haven’t made contact within years, decades even, take you back in time; they tell a story; they elicit emotion. And there is a way to beautifully preserve and organize that story that can bring joy, freedom, and happiness.
Keep in mind that organizing your clutter is not a silver bullet that’s going to solve all your problems. In fact, sometimes your clutter reveals your problems. But that’s not something to fear. Instead, be open to hearing what your clutter is trying to teach you. Clutter has so much to say if we listen. Do this for me now: conjure your clutter in your mind’s eye. Now look at your clutter lovingly, like you would look at your inner child. Take his or her hand in yours and step forward to face your clutter. Your clutter is like a personal roadmap, leading you on a journey to resolve issues in your life you may have hidden in the broom closet or tucked away in a book at the bottom of your bookcase. Does this shift in perspective make it easier to start getting organized?
Making peace with your clutter is making peace with yourself.