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You Have to Do the Work

By October 19, 2015The Stuff in Your Space

I know your clutter and I know its impact on your life. I know the confusion you feel about how to get rid of certain things, not sure if something is valuable, recyclable, re-usable, worth holding on to, or just plain junk. I know this process can be paralyzing. I know how easy it is to rationalize holding on to things you really don’t want, like or need.

I know it can be embarrassing. I know you may not have people over as often as you’d like because you’re beyond “just straightening up for company.” I know how isolating that can feel. I know how it feels to fall behind on your bills and rack up late fees because you haven’t gone through your mail in months. I know you overspend at the grocery store, mainly because you have absolutely no idea what’s in your fridge or your pantry at home.

I know how depressing it can be. I know that feeling of isolation feeds on itself, perpetuating helplessness, despair and the kind of hopelessness that comes with inevitable defeat. I know these feelings develop into subtle thought patterns that progress into unspoken personal beliefs that advance into rationalization and justification for giving up altogether on wide swaths of your life. I know that is a slippery slope—one that leads to avoidance and destructive behaviors. I know what kind of long-term impact this can have on the health and well-being of an individual—and on the family. I know that once children normalize this environment, they inherit the conditions that keep it going, generation after generation.

I know you wish you could snap your fingers and start all over again—with a smaller place and just the handful of things you absolutely love. I’m here to tell you, you can. I know because I’ve done it myself. I know because I’ve worked with countless households, businesses, teachers, and people in transition—from all over the world. I know that if I can—if they can, you can, too. In fact, I guarantee it.

As much as you love your little collections of things (shoes, jackets, bags, fill in the blank), I know you fantasize about a simple life, without all the excess. I know you really only love about twenty percent of your stuff. I know about eighty percent of your space is occupied storing the stuff you really don’t love, and rarely, if ever, actually use. I know the psychological, emotional, physical, spiritual, intellectual, and financial impact this has on you, and on your family.

I know about the resentment you feel from tidying up all – the – time. I know the love-hate relationship you have with your stuff. I know about your shop therapy. I know the exhilaration you feel when you buy something new. I know the sense of euphoria you have when you walk into an immaculate hotel room for the first time, knowing it’s a clean slate, a blank canvas, a clutter-free haven, at least until you unpack.

I’ll tell you what else I know. Chronic clutter is not good for you. I know it can lead to seriously harmful conditions affecting your health and well-being, and that of your children. I know there is definitive evidence linking chronically cluttered spaces to a decrease in motivation, self-esteem and optimism—as well as an increase in stress, anxiety, obesity, depression, substance abuse, domestic violence, social isolationism, obsessive compulsive disorders, and countless other debilitating (and often preventable) conditions.

I know there are conclusive studies showing that kids who grow up in chronically cluttered spaces are exponentially more likely to live in persistent clutter as adults. I know there is wide consensus among the medical community, affirming that the part of the brain that manages executive function, specifically creative problem-solving and complex thought, is significantly less effective in chronically cluttered environments.

Now is your time to pull yourself together and do something about it.


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