How do you stop the clutter? This is a question I get all the time! There are a million blogs out there advising how to prevent clutter from taking over every area of our lives. Advice like “stop shopping,” “buy this special plastic box,” or “set hard limits for yourself” can be great, but really, clutter is first and foremost an inside job. Our internal confusion becomes external clutter, and those external solutions are great and super helpful, but they’re not the full story.
Here are four things you can do to help you to stop clutter from continuing to grow around you:
1. Come home to yourself
How do we come home to ourselves? By using our breath. Our external home is excellent, but our physical body is our first home, and we feed that physical body with the breath.
We can live a month without food, days without water. But we can only live moments without breathing. Make sure that you are breathing consciously and deeply. When you are taking conscious, active breaths that nourish your body, your body is calmer, your nervous system relaxes, and you’re able to be more focused, present, and correct to what is.
2. Acknowledge what is true
What is true for you? It’s easy to get lost in the superficial world of online living. So often, we post things online about how great our lives are, even though we might be freaking out inside. And yes, we might have lots of beautiful moments during the day, but we also have moments where we feel challenged.
At one moment, you may think to yourself, I have a great life, and I’m really, really happy, and at the same time have the thought, I’m stressed and overwhelmed and uncertain.
As humans, we’re complicated beings. We’re continually ebbing and flowing with our feelings. To acknowledge this truth is fundamental.
We have to create a home inside of ourselves where we feel safe. We need to acknowledge and be true to what is real for us. Sometimes that truth feels right, sometimes the fact feels not so good either way, it’s your truth, and you deserve to own the fullness of your experience without judgment, criticism, or being ignored.
One of the practices that I like to do to help me do this more fully is from Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk that I deeply respect and admire. He has an active meditation practice that aligns you with what “is” for you at this moment. Take a moment and take a deep breath. As you breathe in, think to yourself the words “Breathing in, I’m aware that I feel ________ (anger, sadness, anxiety, etc.).” As you breathe out, think to yourself “Breathing out, I care for that feeling of ________ (anger, sadness, anxiety, etc.).”
This is a straightforward, gentle way of being present to and accepting wherever you are right now. Wherever you are at this moment is okay, and no matter what you feel, it won’t always be this way, good or bad. Acceptance is the first step. The last thing you need is to have a shame spiral going on inside of yourself, especially while you’re processing a challenging feeling. Acknowledge and accept what is right for you at this moment.
3. Have clear, empowered communications with those around you
Part of owning your truth and coming home to yourself is to ask for what you need and set clear boundaries. I know that this can be easier said than done, but you must be able to communicate effectively with those around you.
The more that you’re able to communicate effectively from a healthy, connected space with the external world, the less you’re going to need your physical stuff to speak for you.
When you’re honest and actively communicating with those around you, you won’t need to communicate non-verbally with your clutter.
4. Start to fill your life with things that bring you joy
There are so many times we collect items with the intention of taking action on something in some future day. “One day I want to bake a three-tiered fondant cake,” “One day I want to go parasailing,” “One day I want to go to Brazil.” People so often hold onto physical items, hoping they will remind us to do that thing we long to do.
But what if we just started doing that thing? Stop waiting for a perfect future time to take action. Do it now, imperfectly and with the wrong tools. Do it the best you can at this moment.
And if you can’t do it now, don’t fill your physical world with stuff you’re not using. Instead, start to flood your mind and time with the experience of doing it by taking a class, reading a book, or watching a video.
Spend your time spend, energy, and attention on filling your time, space, and life with things that bring you joy, not the promise of remembering to do those things later. Start to do it now!
These four things, as simple as they are, will help you to get on the path of not needing the clutter. From this space, the confusion will naturally (and much more effortlessly) drift out of your life. If clutter isn’t required, it won’t be attracted to you and your home. I see this truth every day.
It’s time to stop the clutter! I invite you to start to add these simple practices to your life. Start by paying more attention to where you can invite these gently into your life, then notice what naturally starts to release from your life as you do.
Share which ones worked for you in the comments below. Happy homecoming!
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