It’s that time of year again when we feel motivated to clear out the physical and emotional clutter that has been holding us back and make some changes in our lives. The birds are singing and spring is in the air.
The weather is changing and warming up which allows us to open windows, feel and smell the fresh air, watch the new growth sprouting out of the ground and witness the first new buds on the trees. It’s a good time to get serious about organizing and clearing out. The sun feels so much stronger now which makes everyone feel better and hopefully inspires you to get moving.
How do we move the physical clutter and what happens when we do? What about the emotional clutter that tends to come up?
For some hands on ideas for spring cleaning/clearing check out this blog post
Perhaps you find the idea of clearing out more appealing than actually doing the work. If so, you are not alone. There are a lot of reasons why it is difficult to let go of our stuff aka clutter. Getting started is usually half the battle. If you are avoiding dealing with the clutter then it might be helpful to actually sit with your clutter and really look at what comes up for you. What is the resistance to doing this work? You could try writing about your feelings and see what is coming up for you. It might feel like you are not doing anything but this is a really great way to get started especially if you are feeling stuck. This helps you to start to take some control and to have power over your belongings and your space.
Physical and Emotional Clutter go together!!
While it is easier to see the physical clutter, if you move it without being conscious about your feelings and not paying attention to what might be underneath it, likely you will just re-acquire and end up back in the same place again. When we look a little deeper we might find there is emotional clutter as well. The clutter can very well be emotional baggage and unfinished business. Do you have old files from a previous career, love letters or cards from an ex-partner, a wedding dress from a failed marriage, books about dreams that you once had, clothing from a happier time or a time when you were a lot slimmer, or projects that are unfinished? (When I was involved in a quilting group in the past we called these UFO’s Unfinished Objects). These are all areas that can keep us emotionally stuck in our lives. Clutter can be giving us a message that we do not want to or cannot move forward.
“I will be able to wear this when I lose 10 pounds” (someday in the future but for now looking at those clothes can make me feel bad about myself)
“I am afraid to try to meet someone and start a new relationship” (because I am sad and still thinking and dwelling on the past relationship)
“I spent a lot of money on this so I cannot let it go” (I will hang on to this even though I don’t love, want or need it and it is taking up valuable space that could be used for something else)
“Someday, I will fix, sew, sell this” (again, someday in the future but realistically am I really going to do this)
“I will not be able to clean this mess up, so why bother trying” (a good excuse to not even start and an easy out in some ways)
“I would like to have company over but cannot because of the mess” (relationships are tough and I have been hurt in the past so it is easier to not have people over)
“I am keeping these books because one day I will read them and then I will be able to get more organized” (my books offer me the promise of making things better but in the meantime they are taking up space and causing me to feel bad because I haven’t read them or actually done any of the work or followed up)
Can you see how some of these thought processes can hold you back and how they protect you from actually pursuing your dreams?
Happy Spring Clearing Everyone
What is your clutter saying about you? How is it protecting you from moving forward? Would love to hear from you. Please comment below…..
Great post, Kim! I love your U.F.O. concept. I think I need to start using it!
Thank you Sarah! I thought this was a common acronym. Yes, UFO’s have got to go. lol
I have a drawer full of yard, much of which is full skeins. Some were left over from my own projects and others were passed on to me by my mother-in-law. It seemed like it was worth holding on to, because I could use it in future projects, but maybe it’s time to let at least some of it go to someone who will actually make something with it.
Yes, Janet, I am sure most of us can relate to this. Mostly, I have too much and can always downsize when I think of what I can realistically do with my yarn, fabric, etc. Thanks for your comment
I totally agree, Kim. I found that clutter in the home has a connection to the clutter in the lives of my clients. Because of this, I find asking questions that go a little deeper than just, “Why do you want to keep this?” works nicely to help them start thinking about the other clutter in their lives.
Yes, asking the right questions is so helpful in looking at what is really going on and what is underneath the clutter.
‘Tis the season for sure! I was just working with a client this morning. We were sorting her clothing, and we came across one that needed mending. She said, “I should probably fix this or let it go.” I said, “You seem to have a lot on your plate. Unless you love this piece, I think we can just put it into textile recycling.” She agreed and we moved on. Sometimes you just need someone standing there giving you affirmation that it is okay to let something go.
I love how you gave your client the choice and let her come up with the solution. I think that is so true that sometimes we just need that affirmation from someone else to let something go. I can so relate to that myself. thank you for your comment Seana
I don’t think I ever heard the “UFO” term before. I love that! Well, I don’t like the idea of having lots of unfinished projects around, but I do like the descriptive acronym for this common challenge. Clutter is a manifestation of our emotional state, so digging more in-depth, as you suggested, is a key to loosening the grip. In the statements that you shared, clutter appears as a preventer for living the life we want. Addressing the stuck points can create positive openings. I love helping others in this way and being part of that process.
Thanks Linda – yes, I love helping others as well through this process. I feel so fortunate that I get to do this work. Back in my early days working in mental health we actually had a Support Group called the UFO Group. People could bring in their projects and work on them together. Thank you for your comment.