What Does Your Clutter Say About You?

In today’s world, we seem to be living in a state of “too much.” Just take a look at some of the popular TV shows such as “Hoarders” and “Consumed.” As a culture, we are being consumed by our obsessions to all things. We’re eating more calories, using more electronics, and buying more “stuff”. All of this overabundance is contributing to an unprecedented level of stress and a problematic attachment.

Professional organizers, who are employed to help with everything from decluttering closets to entire homes, consistently see their clients when they declutter, have an emotional high. “It’s hard for me to even imagine talking about clutter without talking about the emotional benefits of decluttering.” says Hazel Thornton, professional organizer and owner of Organized for Life, a consulting service in Albuquerque, NM. “There’s no one who calls me who isn’t stressed out, frustrated, or feeling inadequate, incompetent in their job, or guilty. It’s all about emotions — definitely it’s more about emotions than it is about the stuff.”

So what do we do about it? Obviously, reducing is a good start. Whether you’re reducing clutter, reducing screen time or reducing calories, downsizing can leave you feeling like a big weight has been lifted off of your shoulders.

What Is Your Stuff Saying to You?

According to author Jessie Scholl, different kinds of clutter signify different emotional messages. Here are a few of the most common”

Piles of Other People’s Stuff

You may have trouble setting boundaries or saying no. Try to set a time limit on storing other people’s stuff, be firm, and stick to it.

Reminders of the Past

You might have a tendency to blame the past for your current situation or think your best days are behind you. Try letting go of any object — however lovely or sentimental — if looking at it disturbs you or brings you down.

Rarely Used or Never-Been-Used Items

Stacks of unopened or unused items can signal “just in case” thinking and a lack of trust in the future. Make a realistic assessment of its purpose, then either use it or get rid of it.

Unfinished Projects

Half-completed paintings and half-finished projects may provoke a sense of failure. Take stock of all the projects you currently have in process. Then be willing to let go, clean up, and move on.

Once you’ve cleared out the unwanted clutter, you can focus on projects and pieces that you care about and that make you feel good. The freedom that comes with a clear space is colored with opportunity for new experiences, and that feels great!


Jessie Sholl is the author of the memoir Dirty Secret: A Daughter Comes Clean About Her Mother’s Compulsive Hoarding (Gallery Books, 2010). https://experiencelife.com/article/the-emotional-toll-of-clutter/ http://www.hgtv.com/design/decorating/clean-and-organize/decluttering-the-kitchen http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/01/04/decluttering-tips_n_2411901.html?