August 01, 2022 6 min read

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. 

 

cluttered garage

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?

 

 

cluttered closet

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?

 

toddler in a cluttered room

 

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.

 

 

1. We hold onto things for sentimental reasons.

When we receive things from loved ones we want to keep them forever. Think greeting cards, gifts that we don't like, family heirlooms, souvenirs from family member's vacations.  Some of these items we have had since childhood. Some of the items that fall into this category were given to us by family members who are no longer with us, so we understandably want to hold on to every piece of them. Often the underlying emotion behind holding onto things that have sentimental value is a fear of abandonment.  We may either fear being abandoned or we don’t want to feel like we have abandoned another. Now, I am not suggesting that we throw away things that have sentimental value for us, but it is important to get to the root emotion of why we are doing it, before we begin our decluttering journey.

 

2. We keep stuff because we think we might need it one day. 

We tuck it away somewhere or pay to put it in a storage facility and we never think about it again.  Sometimes, we forget we had it and end up buying another one, or two, or three.  The underlying emotion here is scarcity.  It could come from growing up poor or a belief that we never have enough. So we end up storing things that we don't even use often, just to feel secure that we have in case we might need it.  We hold onto things that we could easily borrow from someone else or rent when we need it, instead of allowing it to take up unnecessary space in our garage. Turn scarcity into abundance by being grateful for everything you have and having faith that you will receive everything you need.

 

3. We collect things that we hope to use one day in our fantasy life.

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.

 

4. We allow things to pile up because we don't want to have to make a decision about it. 

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

Ymani Efunyale
Ymani Efunyale

I created Good Vibes because my family deserved better, and so does yours 💚


5 Responses

Ymani
Ymani

August 07, 2022

@Kristie, I will be posting some decluttering challenges over the next few weeks. You’re welcome to follow along.

Kristie
Kristie

August 07, 2022

I’m working on this. I need to go through so much stuff that was handed down to me or left with me when kids moved out.

Ymani
Ymani

August 06, 2022

You are both so welcome.

@Layla I’ve been there and I’m a work in progress. No judgement from me. I know the struggle all too well.

@Cathy congratulations and good luck with your move. Moving is always a good time to purge and declutter.

Cathy
Cathy

August 01, 2022

Perfect timing!!! I’m a very sentimental person and we are planning the last move of our lives, so we need to seriously downsize.

Layla
Layla

August 01, 2022

Thank you so much. This is perfect. 🥰 Needed some compassion instead of judgemental energy.

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