Why dealing with clutter is difficult

If feelings of anger come up as you clear your clutter, this is a sure sign to pause and reflect on the deeper feelings being triggered.

by Joy Abrams — 

Dealing with clutter can be daunting. One reason for this is that we tend to think of clutter-clearing as a task requiring little effort or planning. Actually, the opposite is true and, with a few tools and insights, the job can be completed with excellent results.

Keep in mind that for every piece of clutter you have been too distracted to deal with, there are probably several other items you have avoided dealing with for emotional reasons. The underlying problem usually is not procrastination, as you might have thought. It is often that tackling the problem involves dealing with your own difficult emotions associated with the clutter. Here are some examples:

  • Getting rid of an expensive item you never use means that you made an impractical decision to buy it.
  • Getting rid of books and magazines you never read means facing the fact that you did not have or make the time to read them and likely will not in the future.
  • Getting rid of clothes that do not fit means accepting that you are not in the same shape you were at one time.
  • Getting rid of possessions of a loved one means coming to terms with grief.

You may be asking, “So, what do I do?” First acknowledge that clearing your clutter will involve some emotional risk. Make sure you are at a place in your life that enables you to take this risk. Also, begin to explore why keeping some things may be comforting to you and nurturing to your soul.

For example, if you grew up in a poor environment, surrounding yourself with material goods can be reassuring. But if you lack confidence in pursuing your dream, clutter can prevent you from going out there and actually doing it.

Healing and growth come from recognizing your feelings, no matter what they are. If feelings of anger come up as you clear your clutter, this is a sure sign to pause and reflect on the deeper feelings being triggered.

Many of your reasons for not letting go of clutter involve fear at the core — fear of the challenges of the future, as well as fear of confronting regrets of the past.

Here are some suggestions to help you maintain a positive perspective as you clear your clutter:

  • Living clutter-free does not mean that you must live in a sterile environment; it just means that the things that surround you are there for a reason.
  • Confronting the emotions of clutter-clearing will help you to live in the present and in a less threatening mode.
  • If you let go of an item and later wish that you had kept it, trust that an equal or better item will become available if you need it.
  • People who are able to live without excess clutter trust themselves to make better choices.
  • Hoarding against an uncertain future reveals a lack of faith in the universe to provide for you when you need it.

Remember, if difficult feelings come up as you are clearing, be gentle with yourself. This may not be the right time to tackle the job. It is self-defeating to strive for changes that are too powerful for you to make today. Take baby steps and be sure to work at your own pace.

Keep in mind that the space you create for yourself by releasing clutter will allow myriad gifts to flow into your life. You are creating more space for your intentions to manifest on the physical, emotional and spiritual levels. Letting go of the excess makes room for blessings.


Joy Abrams, M.A., FSII, is a feng shui and yoga master, and empowerment specialist. She is an international author who serves on the board and faculty of the Feng Shui Institute International and gives online personal feng shui readings., or 602-791-5223.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 29, Number 2, Apr/May 2010.

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