The Real Definition of Clutter, According to a Life Coach
This article originally appeared in The Huffington Post
You know those moments in life when you feel like you don’t know what to do or where to turn? You don’t know how things will turn out and yet you crave deep change? Those times when you feel absolutely depleted, with no vitality, motivation or energy to do anything at all? Things feel constricted and confusing and you have no clarity on anything? You don’t know what is the next decision to make and you don’t ask for help because… you think you should know how to get yourself out of this stagnant state? Ya, those moments.
What do you do?
Sometimes, you do nothing. Other times… you do this: you find the clutter and you let it go.
Your definition of clutter might be just how messy your space looks or how much paperwork you have in piles. Yes, those are common examples of clutter. But truthfully…it goes way beyond that. Let me show you why.
What exactly is clutter?
A few official definitions of clutter:
From Wikipedia: a confusing or disorderly state or collection, visual pollution.
From Dictionary.com: something untidy or overfilled with objects
a state or condition of confusion.
Here’s my real definition of clutter. Clutter is:
anything that has no place to land or live
anything that no longer serves you (e.g. possessions, relationships, habits, resentments, limiting beliefs).
anything broken or needing repair
anything messy or unclean
anything overwhelming, chaotic or disorganized
anything stuffed or overflowing
anything stagnant and paralyzing
anything confusing, cloudy and unclear
anything that is challenging to manage
“Clutter is not just physical stuff. It’s old ideas, toxic relationships and bad habits. Clutter is anything that does not support your better self.”
― Eleanor Brownn
It could be anything from unpaid debts to karmic relationships or that pair of jeans you used to fit in. It could be that broken vase you never glued together or the vacuum that still needs repair.
These are “things” you have to manage. You have to think about them and deal with them and sometimes carry them from place to place. You have to put them somewhere. The more things you have manage, the more clutter you have.
During the last 10 years that I’ve been coaching and organizing my clients, I’ve discovered there’s a common thread of fear and uncertainty with every person I’ve ever worked with. I also discovered this in my own journey with clutter.
As fear and uncertainty tend to go hand in hand, when we experience either or both about anything at all and it doesn’t get resolved, it always manifests into some type of clutter. It could be physical, mental, emotional, financial and spiritual clutter.
“Clutter is the physical manifestation of unmade decisions fueled by procrastination.”
― Christina Scalise
Imagine not knowing where to put the new light bulbs you just bought or where to save a file you downloaded from that email. Or how about the thing your mother-in- law gave you that you really don’t like? Or the heartfelt card you got from your best friend? You have to manage all these things. Your head spins and you go “ahhhh.” This clutter will in turn breed more fear, anxiety and uncertainty thus turning into more clutter. Nice little snowball effect, right?
Simply put…”clutter is fear manifest into a physical, mental, and emotional form.”
It’s never about the stuff, It’s about why it’s there. So why is it there? What is keeping you from doing or deciding?
Being aware of how you are currently experiencing fear and uncertainty in any capacity is a good clue as to how you can use your clutter to activate change. Those yucky feelings are the gateway to your inspiration, motivation and resolve to unclutter. For good.
How do you start? You start by making the decisions that need to be made in order to make progress. You have to decide, you have to commit and, you have to decide to commit. When you decide, that’s it. You’ve decided and you don’t waver. You either go left or right, up or down and in this case, you decide to keep or let go. Each decision builds on the last and it becomes like a domino effect. The more you decisions you make, the less decisions you actually have to make later on, once you’ve removed the clutter.
You notice the clutter. It gets in the way. You have feelings about this. You may marinate a bit in these feelings and then when they’ve passed, you make a decision. You remove the clutter and things flow and move forward. That’s how this works.
With each decision, you are then one step closer to uncluttered bliss.
During the organizing process, the more decisions you make now = the less clutter you have to manage later on.
You can buy container after container and make all the to-do lists you want, but if you don’t take hold of why you are cluttered, it will never change.
A few things to ask yourself:
What’s working well and not working well in my life right now?
What is making me feel overwhelmed?
How/where is clutter paralyzing me most from moving forward?
Where am I currently not making decisions in my life?
What clutter am I managing that I don’t need to be?
What’s the 1st decision/step I can make to start dealing with it?
Once you have this heart-to-heart chat with yourself, now you have the confidence to deal with this clutter stuff.
Your next move is to enlist some stellar support to help hold space for you to get the results you’re after. This can be a professional organizer and or coach, a friend, or anyone you feel comfortable with going through this process with. With support by your side you can do this!
Then what happens? Your slate is uncluttered and clear, you can make decisions easily and you will find what you are looking for: more peace, clarity and able to move through those stuck, stagnant moments.