OVERWHELMED. That’s typically the first word that people use when they tell me about their clutter. Overwhelmed by the amount of it, for not knowing where to start or how to get rid of it.
Then comes the feeling of EMBARRASSMENT, sometimes as strong as SHAME. This feeling is not necessarily verbalised by my clients at first, although I often get some warnings prior to my first visit – “Be prepared, this is the worst that you’d have seen”. I make it clear that I’m here to help them, but the fear of being judged is palpable when I first show at their door.
I also know now that when clients pay me in cash, it could be because they don’t want their spouse to know they’ve got some external help. That’s fine by me, I won’t brooch the subject, but I must say that I always feel very humbled to be let into my clients’ home, especially when such feelings are so strong, because I appreciate the courage it took them to bring me in.
Most of us are aware of the feelings of overwhelm and embarrassment caused by clutter, feelings that are in themselves a huge weight to carry. But interestingly we don’t often measure the weight we carry associated to the feelings of GUILT and RESENTMENT until we start letting go of our clutter. Here are some of the examples that I’ve witnessed over the years as a professional organiser:
Those clothes that no longer fit you and that make you feel guilty for not being able to lose the weight, or those clothes that you’ve never worn and that make you feel guilty for having wasted money on them.
The pantry or fridge full of food that has expired, or the cabinets full of kitchen utensils and appliances that you’ve hardly used, and that make you feel guilty for not being the great cook, or the perfect spouse or mum even, that you aspire to be.
Those bookshelves full of books you’ve never read and that make you feel guilty for not being the well-read person you wish to be.
Those presents that you don’t like and that make you feel resentful towards the people who gave them to you, because you feel that if they really loved you, they’d have chosen better. Or, on the contrary, that make you feel guilty for not appreciating them because you feel obligated to like them because of the relationship.
Those closets full of stuff related to a hobby (biking, kiting, knitting, etc.) for which you have no time right now because you have young children or ageing parents to take care of, and that make you feel resentful towards the people who deprive you of it.
Your children’s toys scattered all over the home that prevent you from socialising at home. Or those they’ve never played with and that have costed you a fair bit of money. Both situations potentially creating resentment towards your children.
A to-do list full of tasks that you haven’t been able to tackle or complete and that make you feel incompetent or lazy.
The guilt for not setting the right example for your children by being so cluttered and disorganised.
The list could go on…
Mind you, these are not my words, but words that come up during our decluttering sessions with my clients. These are words that your mind is telling you when you face your clutter, whether you are conscious of it or not.
So go around your home now, and face that stuff you’ve been holding onto, and ask yourself deep down how it makes you feel. Oh it’s going to bring you a lot of discomfort. But sit down with it. Because unless you’re true to yourself and ask yourself the hard questions, you’re going to be stuck with the clutter.
The thing is that keeping those items is not going to change your reality. But by letting go of the physical stuff, you’ll free yourself from the unnecessary emotional and mental burden of your clutter. You’ll free yourself from the overwhelm and the shame. You’ll free yourself from the guilt and the resentment. And trust me, this is priceless. Much more than the price of the most expensive dress or kitchen appliance in your cabinets.
I do appreciate it may be a lot for you to handle on your own. So don’t hesitate to contact me if you need the hands-on support or emotional guidance, our work together will make you take a deep look at what’s going on inside you so you can solve your clutter issues, once and for all.