purple stuffed animal with a nervous expression

The importance of clutter

Sometimes clutter is vital and that’s why you’re keeping it. You may genuinely think the reason you don’t declutter is because it’s overwhelming. And that may be true. But it’s worth considering if there’s something else going on too.

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Is it possible that clutter is serving you well, cocooning you and saving you from having to face something you don’t care to deal with?

Perhaps the endless organizing, without ever really settling on homes for things, helps fill your time. Perhaps it keeps you busy and saves you from having to do anything about the fact that you and your partner have nothing to say to each other these days. There’s no time for a job or for volunteering, for reading or for getting outside because there’s all this clutter and you’d feel too guilty doing any of those things when you should be dealing with your clutter.

Here’s the thing

If you spend 20 minutes a day dealing with the stuff in your house, and you simultaneously address the reasons stuff keeps coming into your house, this is a finite job, no matter how much clutter you have. You may be buried in stuff, but if you work through it slowly but steadily, that stuff will recede. If it keeps growing, it may be time to ask yourself what purpose it’s serving you.

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Is your stuff cushioning you, keeping you busy or distracting you from something you don’t want to look at? If that’s the case, please be gentle with yourself. Give up the habit of feeling bad and castigating yourself for all your clutter. Maybe that clutter is serving you well. Maybe you’ll deal with it when the time comes, but for now, it’s helping. Let that be the case and let yourself be as kind to yourself as you would be to a dear friend. If your dear friend had a room full of unopened shopping bags, I don’t think you’d yell and scream at her to get her act together, I think you’d love her anyway. Can you do that for yourself too?

by Lucy Kelly

white stacked papers on table

How to handle your paperwork

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  1. I love this, “ If your dear friend had a room full of unopened shopping bags, I don’t think you’d yell and scream at her to get her act together, I think you’d love her anyway. Can you do that for yourself too?”
    The expectations we place on ourselves always seems tougher than our vision for others.
    This really isn’t from the archives because it’s a topic that is timely. It’s a forever topic.

  2. Self-compassion is key. And especially when we feel ruled by our clutter, it’s even more important. One thing is true that until we’re ready to address the what and why, no movement will happen. And it’s OK to say, “I’m not ready.” There is usually a tipping point, a frustration, a situation, or circumstance that gets us ready for change. But until that point happens, being gentle with yourself is the kind thing to do. When working with clients, some of the work happens in that pre-readiness phase. They want the change, but aren’t quite ready to do the work. So we practice until they are ready. And when that happens, it’s a beautiful thing to be part of.

  3. This is a tough realization but it’s one that clients must hear sometimes. Your approach to doing gently is so important. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Yes, love yourself through it! This period of staying at home has actually been a nice time to look back through accumulated possessions. In my case, I’ve been tackling paperwork. Not exactly a fun job, but it is rewarding to literally lighten the load over my head in my attic!


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