Most people with cluttered homes think that letting it build up is the easy bit. Actually, that’s not true. It’s true that not making decisions about whether to let clutter into your home is easy, and it’s true that opting out of a decision about where to store a particular item is easy. But it is far from easy to try to function well and keep to deadlines in a space where all your possessions are getting in your way.
Being a clutter addict is incredibly draining
Think about it. Living in a space where you’re tripping over things piled up near counters or cupboards or beds is far from easy. Not being able to find the phone or your keys or your diary or a pen and scrabbling around trying to work in an environment like that is far from easy. And trying to make dinner on a kitchen counter that’s crammed with jars or recycling or equipment just feels draining.
Are you simply an absent minded clutterholic or an actual clutter addict?
Some clutterholics are just people who don’t know how to be organised, but some are actually clutter addicts. And like most addictions, it feels easier to keep going with the thing you’re addicted to, than to change. What most addicts who can change their habits discover as part of the process, is that they were actually very good at ignoring the things about their addiction that didn’t feel so good.
Clutter addicts compulsively create ‘stories’
Clutter addicts are addicted to creating a story about each of their possessions that makes that item significant to them, so they can be justified in keeping pretty much everything. They hate making decisions to let go of things so much, that this feels good to them. And they are great at ignoring how awful and draining it feels to live in a space that hinders them in their tasks every day and on every level. They usually do this to help themselves maintain ‘control’ their lives, usually after a catastrophic loss of some kind. Clutter addicts become so good at creating these ‘stories’ that there’s really no incentive for them to change, or even find out what the root of the problem is. Often, this fear of making decisions is reflected in many other areas of their lives too, which may also feel outdated or ‘stuck’ rather than vibrant.
Clearing your clutter helps you warm up for making major life decisions
When all those feng shui experts tell you that you’ll feel better if you clear your clutter, they’re obliquely referring to the fact that a clear out helps you to be better about making decisions in your life for a while afterwards. The way to make this feeling last (and to stop amassing clutter at all) is to start gaining confidence and trust in your ability to make decisions in general. And doing so can help you overcome any anxiety you have about ‘loss of control’ of your life too.
Clutter addicts need to become better at prioritising and making decisions
Small decisions about clutter, such as what to throw away, or what to refuse to allow into your space, are a great way to do this because they’re a good way to ‘warm up’ to making larger life decisions. They can also help you to get into the habit of making small decisions quickly and as you go, so that your life flows more freely. No decision is ‘the perfect one’ but most of them are good enough to keep us going in the right direction, rather than slipping backwards by refusing to make any decision at all. Dealing with your clutter can help you to learn that lesson more easily.
If you’re a clutter addict, you may need professional help
If you’re a clutter addict and you can’t learn to do this on your own, it’s well worth investing in some counselling sessions with a therapist you ‘click’ with that specialises in hoarding. With their help, you’re more likely to be able to let go of your need to control, to cut through the ‘stories’ you have about every item and prioritise what you really need in order to thrive.
You’ll find a list of common myths and excuses we all use to hang onto items we don’t need – together with their antidotes – in my first book ‘Banish Clutter Forever’. Let them help you let go of what you don’t need.