If someone asked you what clutter looked like, what would come to mind? You might think of scenarios such as these:
- Piles of junk lying all around the house.
- A garage so packed you can’t walk through it.
- Drawers that won’t shut.
- Mail stacked up on the dining room table.
- Clothes piled high on the dryer, waiting to be washed or folded.
- Boxes still packed with stuff from the last move, three years ago.
- Stairs lined with trip hazards.
None of these should surprise you; we all know what clutter looks like, right? But are we missing something?
Perhaps there’s more…
What else can clutter look like?
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Spinning out of control
- Lack of motivation or enthusiasm
- No energy
Are you getting the picture? There’s a direct link between our clutter and how it makes us feel. The sooner we recognize this correlation, the sooner we’ll understand and crave benefits of decluttering.
An Emotional Journey
It all starts innocently enough. Most people don’t wake up one morning and decide to live in fear. Or chaos. Or to hoard. It generally isn’t a cognizant decision that starts this ball in motion, but it’s often a very powerful one.
What causes us to hang on to stuff?
Fear – The fear of not having enough is a common clutter culprit. What if something breaks? Or gets worn out? If you may not have the ability to replace what you’ve got, the desire to hang on to as much of it as you can might be overwhelming.
Low self-esteem – Collecting clutter can be a ploy to mask real issues. Are you unhappy? Overweight? Lonely? Surrounding yourself with stuff can bring a false sense of comfort or serve as a welcome distraction.
Competition – If you’re always trying to keep up with the family next door, chances are you’ll go to great lengths to acquire stuff, AKA clutter, in your life. It’s really easy to overlook the collection you’re amassing when your focus is on ‘getting’ rather than enjoying.
A busy schedule – Not having time sounds like a legitimate excuse, but it’s lame. Before ‘going’ and ‘doing’, your home must be in order. If it’s not, the going and doing should stop. Sure, you want to lick the icing first, but it has to be sitting on a solid ‘cake’ foundation or there won’t be anything to enjoy.
Sentimental reasons – Parting with items with special meaning can be particularly difficult. You may have no use for them, and they may be old and broken, but if the keepsakes tug at your heartstrings, the thought of decluttering them can bring stress and anxiety.
The Consequence of Clutter
While the reasons for collecting clutter may vary, the consequence is always the same. Clutter breeds negativity. Remember the faces of clutter we mentioned at the beginning? It’s time to connect the dots.
When I think of clutter, I see far past the physical stuff, but I see the face and heart of the person affected. I see the damage clutter does and the impact is has on someone’s life. And it breaks my heart.
I’ve seen tears of frustration streaming down cheeks. They just don’t know where to start. It’s just too overwhelming.
I’ve seen heads hung low from the embarrassment of a hoarding situation.
I’ve seen lackluster, blank stares from people who hear my words, but who really don’t want to dig in and get started.
I’ve seen a defensive posture in full force while excuse after excuse was hurled my way.
I’ve seen burning anger from someone who wants to declutter and make changes but who doesn’t have the help and support of their family.
I’ve seen eyes filled with fear, worry about the future sabotaging goals and desires.
I’ve seen the face of someone drowning in depression, their life so filled with clutter that they can’t even think straight.
Clutter ain’t pretty. In fact, it’s downright ugly. And mean. And evil. And hurtful. And rotten. It robs dreams, destroys peace, and steals joy.
And it must be stopped.
Why do I tell you this?
So you’ll recognize the danger and make change. I’ve seen people live with the debilitating effects of clutter for years, never realizing the root of their pain, and I want to stop it every chance I get. I don’t want you missing out on years of joy because of clutter. It’s not necessary. It doesn’t have to be that way. But recognizing the problem is the first step in solving it. Then, of course, you must take action.
Examine what clutter looks like in your life. Not just in terms of the physical stuff, but also in how it makes you feel and what effect it’s having on your heart and life. Use that knowledge as a springboard to launch your decluttering journey. Get started today. I promise the face of a decluttered home and heart is a joyous sight. Relaxed, peaceful, content, freeing…. Don’t you want a piece of that?
Mandy needed help but she was too ashamed of her situation to ask. She knew she had a problem with clutter, but sharing this secret with someone would expose her shortcomings and bring more embarrassment than she cared to handle. So the clutter sat. And grew. And frustrated her to no end. She couldn’t find anything, couldn’t use the space she needed in her home, and couldn’t have company over. Mandy was paralyzed by her stuff and it was controlling her home, emotions, and life.
Finally, she was done! Thank goodness she’d had enough.
We helped Mandy develop an action plan. We broke down her challenge into manageable parts, giving her tips for decluttering and ideas to make the job easier along the way. We set up checkpoints and cheered her on with each successful step. We gave her a little nudge when she needed it. And we helped her keep sight of the ultimate goal.
I can tell you today that not only is Mandy decluttered, but she’s happier than she’s ever been. Watching her transformation from fear, humiliation, and exasperation to joy was nothing short of incredible and exactly why we do what we do. We were blessed to be part of her journey.
Clutter has many faces and none of them are good. Expose clutter for what it is and reap the benefits of positive change and forward motion. Once you do, there’ll be no turning back.
Looking for resources? Check out lots of decluttering tools and tips at www.actionplanministries.com/our-gifts-to-you