The Ultimate Act of Self-Care: Clearing Clutter

When the mountain of paperwork and other clutter on my client Sue’s desk approached Mt. Everest proportions, she would ‘organize’ it by dumping it into paper bags and boxes that she stashed in closets and under tables.

Can you relate?  

Patty, another client of mine, didn’t even bother stashing her clutter. The obstacle course that began at the front door and continued throughout the house stopped friends and family from coming over, and she grew increasingly isolated.

Deborah kept her house relatively free of clutter, but her garage was loaded top to bottom with boxes of things she hadn’t used in years, including a box marked “RIP” filled with memorabilia from her divorce twenty years earlier.

Fortunately, all three of these women managed to regain control of the clutter in their lives by enlisting my coaching support along with the help of some nonjudgmental friends.  They had each hit their own rock bottom, and became willing to dive deep and look at what was driving their clutter habit.

clutter-clearing-lose-weightOne by one, miraculous things began to happen.

Sue ran across the name of a colleague with whom she hadn’t spoken to in years. The following week, the colleague called out of the blue and offered her an irresistible business opportunity.

Patty fell in love with a man a few months after clearing her clutter, and later married him.

Deborah found herself suddenly presented with numerous opportunities for international travel, something she loved and yet hadn’t done in several decades.

Miraculous or not, clearing away physical clutter often has the unexpected side effect of clearing away emotional clutter, which may be the very thing holding you back from attaining your heart’s desire.

As a matter of fact, organizing your life is one of the kindest acts of self-care and self-love there is.

When our space is organized, we naturally spend less time looking for things. We set a good example for those around us, reduce overwhelm, accomplish more in less time, and make better use of our talents and skills. We feel more in control and make more money. It can even increase our self-confidence!

There is no shortage of plans and programs on how to get organized. In her book Organizing from the Inside Out, Julie Morgenstern takes the “how to” a step further and suggests that to arrive at any kind of a sustainable system, we need to understand and work with or around our psychological obstacles to achieve a clutter-free environment.

Do you see yourself reflected in any of these examples?  

-The need for accumulation. People who need to keep a lot of things around them may be filled with anxiety and dread at the idea of getting rid of them.

-Unclear goals and priorities. Organizing is about defining what’s important and setting up a system to reflect that. Why might you be afraid of naming your priorities?

-Fear of success / fear of failure. Disorganization may be a convenient way to hold back and remain safely in your comfort zone.

-Need to retreat. Clutter can be a protective shield to keep others at a distance.

-Fear of losing creativity. A common myth is that creative ‘right-brained’ people need to work amid chaos to produce high-quality work. (This is absolutely not true!)

-Need for distraction. Clutter can provide a convenient excuse to avoid uncomfortable issues or unwanted tasks.

-Sentimental attachment. Infusing objects with personality, emotions, and meaning (such as “I can’t throw out this vase, it was a gift from a loved one.”) usually results in living with an enormous amount of clutter.

-Need for perfection. People often refuse to deal with clutter until it can be done perfectly. This just means that it will never get done.

There is a strong connection between holding on to stuff and ‘holding on’ to weight and bad feelings about oneself. I hear stories every day about how clutter leads to imbalance which leads to overeating. The great news is that there is a way out!

The first step is to identify that it is an issue. The second is to ask for support.  If a clutter problem is causing you stress and keeping you from the life you want, we should talk. Please schedule a free 30-minute discovery session with me.


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