Why do I struggle with this clutter issue? Week 2

Week 2 is all about looking at yourself and figuring out why I am struggling with this issue.  It can be quite intense as it is all about looking at yourself and the factors that have led up to why me?

So, we are starting to create our own “clutter model” and we begin by talking about:

1. Vulnerability Factors such as mental illness, trauma and loss, family values and role models, physical limitations and other factors. Putting your attention to these issues can be difficult as it really brings it to the forefront.

We then look at

2. How we Process Information.

Problems with Attention – I am sure most of us can relate to this . There is so much vying for our attention every day that can really make it hard to stay focused on the task at hand. We will share some tips on how to do this more effectively coming up.

Problems with Categorization – because everything can feel so special it can be hard to figure out how to organize items. Overwhelm and Emotions can really get in the way which makes it easier to not make any decisions.

Elaborate Processing – lots of very creative people with many ideas on how to use an item. We always say that if we passed around a bottle cap we could probably get 10 different ideas on what to do with it.

Problems with Memory – again something that most of us can relate to specially those of us who are getting older. The thought process is that because I am worried I will forget about this bill I will leave it here on this pile in plain view. The problem is that when it becomes too many things it is just overwhelming, piles can fall over and we can’t remember anyway. We often have participants say that they have empty drawers or filing cabinets because of this.

We then start to examine some of our

3. Thoughts and Beliefs. These beliefs can really keep us stuck and can add to the clutter or cause us to be stuck and not able to move forward. Later on we will question some of these and see if they still fit. But for now…. These are a few of them

Beliefs About Usefulness, Waste and Responsibility – not being able to dispose of something in an environmental way causes me to keep the items even though they are in my way, etc. Our thinking process about the objects can be that this is still good, I can fix it, recycle, give it away to someone, etc.

Perfectionism – Wanting to do things perfectly can really keep you stuck. Are you going to make a mistake and throw something away that you regret? Possibly! Is it the end of the world? Can you get the item again if needed? Maybe? Waiting to do things perfectly is unrealistic and will keep you stuck.

Sentimental Attachments – having a strong belief about possessions and their importance. Items feel like they served as a tangible record of a happier time or of a loved one and throwing this away can cause a lot of anxiety and uncomfortable feelings.

These three areas help individuals to start to build their own clutter model which is the homework for the week. Next week we will look at the emotional responses to these thoughts and beliefs and examine them further. People will start to see how these emotions positive and negative both contribute to the clutter issues.

So, how did I do with my challenge from last week? My challenge was to get up off the couch nightly and do something I have been thinking about (and not doing) every evening. It doesn’t have to be a big thing but significant enough to make me feel good about myself and maybe create a new habit. This has been really great and I plan to carry it on again this week. Also, to add to my challenge this week my plan is to clean off my dresser which tends to gather lots of possessions, dust, etc. Seems to be a seasonal project.

How are you all doing? What challenges do you have with your thoughts and beliefs. Thank you for following along with our progress.

About Kimberley

I am a Case Manager at My Sisters' Place which is a program of the Canadian Mental Health Association London Middlesex. My Sisters' Place is a program for vulnerable women. I love my job and all the wonderful women I work with. I am very honored to do this work with women who have been through so much and are so open in sharing their stories. I initiated and designed a Clearing Clutter Support Group which I have been facilitating since 2007 with a co-worker. I love running this group and learn so much from the participants. We offer this eight week program three or four times a year. I started my business Space For You in 2010 and work with individuals in their homes as well as offer some workshops in the community. I am available to speak to groups on "De-Cluttering Your Life", "The Magic of De-Cluttering", "Space Clearing" or really anything to do with clutter and hoarding.
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12 Responses to Why do I struggle with this clutter issue? Week 2

  1. One of my biggest struggles is sentimental attachment to certain items. I’ve let go of quite a few, realizing that I don’t need XXX to remember the person who gave it to me or where it came from, but others are much more challenging.

    • Kimberley says:

      There are certain items you might want to keep as a nice memory. I think it becomes a problem with you keep it out of guilt or you have too many items and no place for them. Then it might be time to make some hard decisions.

      • There is one particular item that always comes to mind. It was my grandmother’s, then my mother’s, and I’ve now had it for 20 years. It’s not exactly in my way, but I’ve never used, and probably never will. I’ve come close to donating it but haven’t managed to do that. I even asked my dad to tell me the story behind it, but I didn’t write it down and I can’t remember the details. Maybe if he tells me again and I write it down, I’ll be able to let it go once and for all!

        • Kimberley says:

          I can totally relate to this Janet. I have a set of dishes that were my grandmother’s. Its a tea set which is really cute but I have never used it and likely won’t. I recently boxed it up as it was taking up space in a china cabinet but I cannot throw it out. Also, my mom seems to think it is worth something but I know it is really just the fact that it belonged to my grandma. Those are the hard things to let go of. I think I will keep them for now. lol

  2. Seana Turner says:

    I think I face the same struggles as everyone else: sentimental attachment like Janet, holding onto something for a future use (that may, or may not, come to pass), and just lack of attention. I love the categories of causes you’ve outlined here. There really is more to clutter than may initially meet the eye!

    • Kimberley says:

      Thanks Seana,
      Yes, that is so true that there is so much more to clutter than we think. As Professionals it helps that we can relate to these issues as well. Sure makes it easier to help them. Thank you for your comment!

  3. Sheri Steed says:

    I love your approach to this topic. I really think that understanding your relationship with clutter is the first step to overcoming it.

  4. Sentimental attachments are the most challenging ones for me to handle. I’m pretty good at deciding what to keep and let go of, but there were periods when going through my childhood home that the “line” got murky. It helped to have other family members to discuss the stuff with. And it was especially helpful when someone in the family wanted to keep something. This way I knew it had a good home to go to, but that I didn’t have to be the keeper of the thing.

    That idea of “safe passage” or finding the right home for the object in question, is very helpful in working with sentimental clutter.

    • Kimberley says:

      Linda – thanks for this. Yes, I am so glad you can relate to this. I struggle with letting go of sentimental things too and sometimes I surprise myself and my partner. It can be so helpful to know something is going to somewhere special.

  5. I’m currently working with a client now who is trying to downsize and is struggling with sentimental clutter. She wants to move out of state to be closer to family. I’ve reminded her of the saying: “You can’t reach for anything new if your hands are filled with yesterday’s junk” and it seems to have resonated with her.

    • Kimberley says:

      I love that expression Sarah. So True “You can’t reach for anything new if your hands are filled with yesterday’s junk”. Powerful.

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