This article is part one of three blog posts that will serve as cornerstones for the decluttering posts and challenges to come. In it, I am going to define what clutter is and is not, how clutter makes us feel, and the psychology behind why we hold on to things. In order to maintain a clean, organized, clutter free home, we first have to understand the clutter monster and why he is lurking in our closets (and under our beds) to begin with.
According to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary, clutter (noun) is an unorganized collection or mixture of various things. Synonyms for clutter include collage, gallimaufry, hodgepodge, litter, medley, miscellanea, muddle, and rummage. Words related to clutter are catchall, mix-up, bollix, chaos, confusion, disarrangement, disarray, disorder, mess, morass, shambles. Consequently, antonyms for the word clutter include, calm, hush, peace, quiet, rest, stillness, tranquility, order and orderliness. What words would you use to describe your home? What words do you desire to use to describe your home? Did you notice that the antonyms of clutter are all words that we use to define our emotions?
Clutter, or the lack thereof, has a direct and immediate affect on how we feel. We could be feeling great, smiling and brimming with joy, and as soon as we walk into a cluttered room our whole mood shifts. Looking at clutter can cause us to feel ashamed, guilty, defeated, unaccomplished, worried, confused, disorganized, disconnected, unaccountable, trapped, avoidant, sad, depressed, and/or angry. We have all experienced it. We have all walked into a cluttered room in our house that we plan to clean up one day. It may have made us feel guilty and unorganized, so we turned off the light and closed the door to avoid it. Meanwhile, the stuff continues to pile up because the room became the place where we put the STUFF that we plan to get to one day.
The question we should honestly ask ourselves is, why do we put off "one day"? What stops us from scheduling a day to deal with the mess, then actually doing it? Why do we move things that we never use from one house to another? Why do we hold on to so much shit?
If you are tired of clutter and you want a home that gives you feelings of joy, calm, peace, and order, I encourage you to ask yourself some real questions about why you are holding on to stuff. Allow yourself to go deep and explore the following reasons why we hold onto things and consider that it is almost always tied to our emotions.
We tell ourselves that one day we are going to sew our own dresses, so we hold onto patterns, material, machines and thread for years. We tell ourselves that we are going to dedicate more time to cooking or baking one day, so we hold onto to cookbooks, recipe cards, Kitchen Aids, food processors, and more, but we never do get around to exploring our creativity in the kitchen. We hold on to arts and craft supplies like yarn, knitting needles, crochet hooks, pattern books, etc only to never make the time to actually enjoy crafting. This is ego driven and all about the ideal self that we think we are or want to be in our heads. It's giving delusional and like my mother used to say, poop or get off the pot (except she didn't say it that nice). Either make time to regularly do all that you say you want to do in the future, or give all of those supplies and materials to someone who is really 'bout that life. Don’t hoard things because of the fantasy life you desire to have. Either make it happen today or stop being delusional. Hard truth. Take action.
Think about the pile of unopened mail that may or may not be sitting on a surface in your house right now. Or the boxes that you never unpacked since your last move. Think about the family heirlooms you received that are still sitting in a box somewhere. The underlying emotion here is avoidance and we must ask ourselves, what am I avoiding right now? Do you allow the mail to pile up because you are avoiding all the past due bills? Are those boxes still unpacked because they contain items that you know you need to take action on but don't want to be reminded about? Have you avoided going through the box of family heirlooms because you really don’t want it but you don’t want to have to make a decision about it? We will walk past some BS five times a day in our home, ignoring it because we don’t want to deal with it right now. The problem is, the longer we avoid dealing with it, the more it piles up. In order to declutter your space successfully, you're going to have to confront what you have been avoiding. Be courageous.
These are just a few things to think about before you start your decluttering journey. If you don’t reflect on the root cause of the clutter, it will come back no sooner than you have cleared it. Decluttering our spaces is a process and an ongoing task. The work doesn’t stop once we have decluttered a space. The real work is confronting the issues that make us want to allow clutter to accumulate in the first place. Confront the underlying issues and get clear on the reason why you want to declutter your spaces. Always, know your why.
Next week we will address the decluttering process and how to keep clutter away for good. Then we will begin a series of decluttering and cleaning challenges. If we start now, we will be ready for the holiday season. Having clutter free homes will also inspire us to think before buying more stuff during the holiday shopping season. And buying less stuff means having more money. Money we can use to buy experiences, rather than things.
Stock up on Good Vibes All Purpose Cleaner so you'll be ready to start your journey to a clutter free home. Be your own peace and get you some Good Vibes.
Are you ready to live an uncluttered life? How tired are you of the sh*t piles in your space? Sound off in the comments.
Read Part 2: How to declutter any space
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