I know this title probably has you pretty confused, but it’s true… clutter actually can be a good thing! I’m explaining why in today’s video.
I tried all kinds of things to solve my clutter issues.
I read the magazines, bought the bins and containers, and tried to implement different routines to keep my house organized, but they never seemed to work for long.
Then one day, I realized it’s not about the stuff.
If decluttering was as simple as buying the right containers, we’d all be organized. All it would take is one magical trip to the Container Store, and suddenly all our clutter would disappear.
Boxes, bins, and creative organizing solutions can be great, but the real key to solving a clutter issue is addressing the cause of the clutter in the first place.
See, I believe clutter is just a symptom of something bigger that’s going on.
It’s kind of like when the body has a fever or the check engine light comes on in a car. Those are signals that there’ s a problem somewhere.
Someone could cut the wire to the check engine light and consider the problem solved, but that would only be a temporary fix (no more light!). The real issue would still be lurking underneath the hood.
I think clutter is, more often than not, just the messenger.
It’s an alert system that says, “Hey! You need to pay attention to something,” and clues us in that something in our lives needs to be addressed.
What that “something” is varies from person to person, but in cases of chronic clutter, I think there’s almost alway something deeper going on.
How to Figure Out the Deeper Issue
After years of spinning my wheels trying to solve my clutter issues by addressing the stuff, I started to really think about why I’d allowed clutter to accumulate in the first place.
I’m a mom of six so I could use the easy excuse of, “We have a lot of kids!” or “We have a big family,” but the truth is I’ve always kind of been messy so that wouldn’t really be true.
I eventually realized that I used clutter as a way to insulate myself from others. It was like my own person moat except instead of water, I had stuff.
It provided me with the perfect excuse for never having people over… our house is messy!
This had the added benefit of keeping people at a distance so they couldn’t really get to know me.
If they can’t get to know me, we can’t get too close, and if we aren’t close, they can’t hurt me.
I could keep my drawbridge up nice and tight, and stay safely within the walls of my home.
Acknowledge Why You Have Clutter
The first step to tackling clutter once and for all is to acknowledge what’s really going on.
What’s beneath the constant accumulation or inability to maintain progress? Is it:
- a way to cope with trauma?
- a protection mechanism?
- a signal that you need to prioritize self-care?
- a way to keep people at a distance?
- a lack of systems and discipline to keep things neat and tidy once it’s been decluttered and organized?
Try pinpointing when the clutter issues began. Were you once neat and tidy? What caused that to change? Did you grow up in a messy, hectic home? How did living in that home make you feel, and why have those habits been carried into adulthood?
I know it’s cliche to say, “Knowledge is power,” but I really believe that it’s through this introspection that things can profoundly change.
Give Yourself Grace
One of the most important things we can do in this process is give ourselves grace.
Instead of being angry that you’ve allowed things to get to this point, try to view the situation from a positive mindset.
For example, instead of being angry with myself, I’m trying to focus on being appreciative. I had subconsciously done what I felt was necessary and best to keep myself safe. That’s kind of amazing! I guess someone does have my back, and that someone is me!
Keeping all of this in mind while decluttering has been a huge help for me because instead of falling prey to the insecurities and fears that caused me to accumulate all of this in the first place, I remind myself that I no longer need this “protection.”
Even though I may have subconsciously built this wall of clutter with the best of intentions for self-preservation, it’s not doing more harm than good. The wall needs to come down, and the stuff needs to go.
I’m able to pass these things on to people who may actually use and appreciate them, and give myself space, peace, and the opportunity for connection in the mean time.
I hope this makes sense and helps. Truthfully, recording this video and sharing this has been really hard. I really went back and forth on whether or not I wanted to be this vulnerable and honest or if I should just delete everything.
I wish this was all stuff I was fully healed from, but in a lot of ways these are still fresh wounds. I think I’m on the path of healing (just figuring this out has been a huge step!), but I also think this is why I still have some clutter… there’s still some internal mental and emotional stuff to deal with.
I’ll be back Monday with another post for the Decluttering Workshop. If you’ve missed the other posts, you can see those here: