What is clutter?
Clutter is anything in our life that is no longer serving us.
Why do we have so much clutter?
We have lots of clutter because it's hard for us to let go. We are encouraged to acquire. But not to let go. There is a lot of importance placed on stuff. We define ourselves and others by the things we surround ourselves with. Things will never make us happy. When we recognize that in our lives clutter loses a hold on us.
How do I know is something is clutter?
You know something is clutter when you ask, "Do I need or like this or can I let it go?" When something is part of your life it's easy to say, "Yes, I like this." If we hesitate, or are uncertain, or say, "I don't know, I might need it one day" then we know its clutter. Think of something that is really important to you now. That feeling that you get when you think about it is the feeling of something being a part of your life. The opposite feeling is clutter.
How do I get rid of my clutter?
You go through your things one item at a time. You hold the item and you ask, "Do I like this, or can I let it go?" The first feeling that comes to you is the honest one. The more you do this the easier it becomes. When you like at a big pile of stuff it's overwhelming. Going through one item at a time is easier and doable.
What are some tips on letting go of clutter?
The going through one item at a time technique works well. Make sure to remove the clutter when you are done clutter busting. Toss the stuff that is unusable in the outside trash cans. Recycle the recyclables. Bring the usable stuff to a charity organization. Drink plenty of water while you clutter bust. Avoid phone calls. Turn off the TV. It's okay to listen to music that you like. You may feel resistance to starting. However once you start it becomes easy. There is a supportive momentum in starting the process. Once you get started it feels really good. Know that the clutter in your home or office keeps new things from coming into your life. There are things waiting in line to come into your life. Give them the space to come in.
How do you keep the clutter from coming back?
As you do the letting go process you find that it feels good to toss the clutter. You enjoy having that feeling. You like the feeling of space in your environment. When you start to notice some clutter appearing in your living space you notice that it doesn't feel good. You toss it. It's also good to take the time every month to go through your things and ask what is important and what's not.
What was the worst clutter situation that you ever saw?
I worked with a client who lived in a three story condo and every space was filled with clutter. There were very slim pathways that he created to be able to move around his home, but even those had obstructions. There were bungee chords holding back the clutter so it wouldn't cave in on him. The clutter was over seven feet high. He was extremely depressed. I waded into the clutter with a trash bag and took one item at a time and asked him, "Do you need this or can we let it go?" I find it very effective to help people make definite decisions. Their discriminating faculties are sometimes dormant. This wakes them up. I spent a few months there and in the end we cleared the entire place of clutter. He went from feeling miserable and suicidal to hopeful and happy.
Why do people have such a hard time letting go of their clutter?
There's emotional attachment to clutter. We associate a lot of feelings to our stuff. We have lots of memories with each item. Part of us feels that if we let go of that thing, we let go of a part of ourselves. It's as if the item has us hypnotized. Sometimes my clients will tell them they tried clutter busting on their own and would look at one item and a half hour would go by. Recognizing the hold things have on us helps us in the letting go process. It makes us more vigilant.
Also, we are taught that things will make us happy. We are raised with advertising that tells us that we are unhappy and that if we buy this thing we will be fulfilled. A part of us believes that things have an inherent quality of joy. All you have to do is look at how you are affected when you purchase something. You notice there is a euphoric feeling when you buy it. It's tangible. But then you notice the feeling wears off. We want that feeling back. So we often buy and acquire another thing. We don't stop and realize that it's not working.
What do you do when you work with couples – one wants to get rid of something, and the other doesn’t?
I talk with both of them. I help them look at it together. Sometimes one of the partners wants to control what the other does. This creates separation. Couples often have a lot of unconscious reaction patterns that occur in their interactions. These reactions are clutter to the relationship. By exposing it in a non-judgmental way and bringing clarity to their interactions a flow is created between the partners. It helps when couples are working together to recognize when they feel tense and reactive. Often times the wanting to keep something and the wanting to get rid of something battles occur because of clutter in the mechanics of the relationship. Slowing things down and talking honestly has helped a lot of couples clutter bust together. No thing is that important enough to distort and spoil the relationship. The couple sees that the partnership is just as much of a thing as the item they are making a decision about. I point that out to them by asking them, "Is this relationship important to you, or do you want to let it go?" Sometimes we forget what is important to us and it's great to remember.
Brooks Palmer’s Clutter Busting, business took off by word of mouth when people began calling, usually out of sheer desperation. He has since been featured in The Los Angeles Business Journal and Daily Candy, and on Living Live and the CBS Channel 2 Nightly News. Brooks travels between Chicago, Florida, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City, working with clients and offering seminars on getting rid of the clutter in our lives. He lives in Chicago. His website is www.clutterbusting.com.
Clutter Busting: Letting Go of What’s Holding You Back By Brooks Palmer
$13.95 · 232 pages