Spaciousness?!? You’ve got to be kidding. I can’t even get past the piles of paper and the junk in my basement!! If this (or some version) is going through your mind right now as I go into my song-and-dance spiel about the bigger picture, it might help to know that you are not alone.
Do any of these thoughts ring true for you?
- OVERWHELMED: No matter how hard I try, I just can’t seem to manage the sheer volume of stuff.
- BEEN THERE, DONE THAT: I’ve bought the books on clutter clearing; I’ve smudged my entire house with sage; I’ve practiced some of the suggestions on simplifying that I read in Real Simple; I watch HGTV religiously; nothing I do makes any difference.
- IT’S NOT ME: It’s easy for me to get rid of stuff, it’s my husband (wife, mom, child…) who has a hard time letting go of things, or, [variation] who doesn’t even see the piles.
- SPENT: I’ve spent gobs of money on closet systems, containers and baskets, professional organizers, even therapy…but my clutter remains a source of pain, shame, and embarrassment.
- TWO-SIDED: My office desk is perfect. My desk at home is a disaster.
- CONTROLLED: I am a neatnik. I control my chaos with order.
- IN DENIAL: Clutter, me? I hold on to nothing. I get rid of things as soon as they come in the door.
- FEARFUL: What will become of me if I let this thing [thought, relationship, resistance, worry, status symbol] go?
- ATTACHED: My stuff needs me.
Despite the proliferation and popularity of how-to books, make-over reality TV shows, feng shui cures, online support one click away, nifty containers and closet organizing services worth billions of dollars a year, and a self-storage industry bigger than McDonalds, Burger King, and Wendy’s combined, clutter continues to grow, quickly becoming one of the biggest epidemics of our time.
Underlying the dizzying facts is the unrelenting message that if we simply banish this curse we will finally find true heaven on earth. The standard view sees clutter as a “thing” that is separate from us: a nuisance or growth that we must extract, conquer, outwit, or reorganize back into orderly piles. And, like a strict diet that that must be endured, clearing is considered about as compelling as a root canal.
So what gives? With all the attention given to the problem, why is it that most clearing efforts, though well intentioned, do not last? Why do our homes and lives continue to be so stressed, stuck, and out of balance?
Most traditional approaches do not consider the energetic impact of clearing: that clearing one small thing or issue with intention, every day, is more powerful and sustainable than binge-clearing a whole lot all at once. We are more likely to throw in the towel just when things are beginning to shift, quietly, under the radar of any discernible progress. We might lose faith precisely when we should not be giving up and giving in to the agitations of the ego—the part of us that is only concerned with our comfort and keeping things the way they are.
Another reason why many methods of clearing and organizing do not work is that they promote an active and linear process of clearing, like a problem to be fixed, managed, or solved. In our Western culture where action reigns supreme, if we can’t do something or make something happen, now, then we are wasting our precious time. Going slowly and waiting to see what happens is a hard sell for those looking for immediate results. These linear approaches completely dismiss, and miss, the equally powerful receptive elements of clearing that invite us to slow down, allow, listen, surrender, feel, soften, let go.
Most clearing efforts do not make room for us to feel our feelings, honor our ebbs and flows, create a container of safety, embrace our shadow side, or allow us to be more compassionate with ourselves. The modus operandi focuses on the end result, not the journey; on our intellect, not our innate wisdom; on throwing away, not letting go.
Until we begin to make a shift in our mindset that recognizes and embraces and includes the feminine aspects of clearing, we will not begin to change our lives, nor bring change to the planet. It is, in fact, this more balanced treatment that takes us beyond clutter-freedom into the vaster territory of our most spacious self.
Radical in its simplicity, this paradigm shift in clutter clearing is really good news for everyone, including those who believe they don’t have any clutter at all!