- Cheri Honeycutt, M.Ed.
What's Your Clutter Telling You?
Did you know the size of the average American home has tripled over the past 50 years and despite that 1 out of every 10 Americans rents an offsite storage unit for their stuff? Holy Cow!
Did you know that 25% of people with a two-car garage don’t have room to actually put their cars in there? And only 32% can park one car. Did you know that American children make up only 3.1% of the world population but 40% of the toy consumption? I swear all of those toys used to be in my house!!!
Did you know that many of our homes have more televisions than people who actually live there? We have a lot of stuff. I think much of what we have could be categorized as clutter. What do you think? Do you have some clutter hanging around?
That’s what today’s podcast is all about. I’m gonna chat a bit about what your clutter might be saying about or to you.
What is the Real Meaning of Clutter?
What is the real meaning of your clutter? I’m assuming you have some or you wouldn’t be listening to this. I was going to say I assume you have clutter because you're living and breathing. That’s just how prevalent clutter is. To meet someone who doesn’t have it would be like seeing a unicorn on your patio.
So clutter is a real thing for most of us. Psychologist have been discussing this intensely for the past 30-50 years as we have been accumulating more stuff as a society. Clinical psychologist Noah Mankowski, an expert in hoarding, says the way you perceive your clutter is the way you perceive yourself and your relationships. Yikes!
So, for the purposes of this podcast, lets first define clutter. What exactly is it?
One definition is “a collection of things lying about in an untidy mass.” That works for me. It’s stuff that piles up, stuff you can see. It’s untidy and it’s unappealing. I bet that’s what you think of first when you think of clutter. I know I do. Piles of things that are not where they are supposed to be. Untidy, unruly and unappealing.
But I want to expand that definition a bit. Add this to the above definition. Clutter is when there is too much of something. Clutter is when there is little space or no room for the energy to flow properly. Clutter is anything that doesn’t serve your best interest. Clutter is anything that, by its very presence, brings you down. Things can be clutter even if they are tidy and organized (Yikes on that one too)
So—clutter is anything that is not serving you. Things in your home, things in your schedule, things in your mind. You get the picture?
Therefore, clutter is relative. Meaning, you get to decide what clutter is. Someone may come into my house and feel that it’s cluttered. I have a lot of things on the walls, a lot of ktakies. It is quite busy. To someone who has a minimalist style, my space can feel rather cluttered. But Mark and I like it. So, when I talk to you about clutter, I am talking about the “stuff” that is dragging your energy down by your definition.
But we have to watch out here—Just because we each individually get to define clutter doesn’t mean that if we like it or want it that it’s not really clutter. There are many reasons (most of them unhealthy) that we keep a lot of stuff in our lives. So, don’t think that just because you like it, that its not clutter. But having said that . . . you will ultimately be the one to decide.
Assuming you are like most people in this day and age . . . what could your clutter be saying about you?
First and perhaps the most obvious is that you are sentimental. This is a biggee for people. You could be holding on to things because they mean something to you. Or at least they used to. Your stuff evokes a memory of a person, time or place and you simply can’t part with it. A lot of my clients hold onto things because someone special gave it to them or belonged to a long dead relative. This one is tricky. But are you holding on to dead people’s stuff out of obligation or do you really like it? Big Big question!.
Your clutter could be a sign that you’re a procrastinator or willing to ignore certain things in your life. Yikes . . . did you hear me say the work ignore? That’s a much more accurate word than procrastination. Procrastination means we’re eventually gonna get to it. Truly. I mean it. But in truth, when we procrastinate, we are just ignoring something that needs to be done now. You could simply be choosing to ignore your clutter or cleaning or dealing with the papers that are piled up or cleaning the garage, or going through your deceased mother’s items. Your clutter could simply mean you are willfully ignoring things that need your attention.
Depression or in a Low Period
Your clutter could be a sign that you’re depressed or suffering a low time in your life. This happens to a lot of us, some more often than others. I know it happens to me. My space can be one of the first signs that my mood has hit a low and my energy and spirit have been dampened. When this happens, I end up in a do-loop of feeling bad about my space which makes me feel bad about myself which allows me to avoid taking care of my space. And so it goes. Depression often shows up in the form of clutter and disorganization.
Life is Out of Balance
Or maybe your clutter means you’re too busy and your life is out of balance. You have too much stuff on your plate. We all have those times but perhaps your life is always too cluttered with tasks, obligations and to-dos and your space is a mirror for you. Too busy to really take care of clearing your space and the clutter piles up. Which leads me right into the next one—boundaries.
Lack of Boundaries
Maybe your clutter is a reflection of your lack of boundaries. “Sure, you can store your stuff here.” “Sure, I can buy another crock pot. It was on sale.” “Sure, the kids can keep their toys anywhere they want them.” A life without parameters, either you set for yourself and others, can result in a lot of things in your life that you really don’t want. The lack of boundaries is an easy way for external clutter to accumulate. Yes, you can be too nice!
Hoarding and Can’t Let Go
Or maybe your clutter means you can’t let go of things. This could be due to being sentimental like I mentioned earlier or it could come from a place of scarcity or overvaluing what we have. “What will happen if I need this later? “,“So and so could use this. I bet they don’t have one. I better hang on to it for them.” “I spent a lot of money on this!” “I may never find another ‘fill in the blank’” Letting go is a very hard thing for many of us and can contribute a lot to our clutter. Is this you?
You’re Stuck in a Rut
Maybe your clutter means you are really stuck. Clutter could be an external sign that positive energy is not flowing throughout your life. It could actually be the cause of why positive energy is not flowing in your life. It could mean you’re emotionally stuck, or stuck in a job you hate, or an unhealthy relationship. Stuck in some way and your space is reflecting that back to you.
You Just Don’t Want to “Adult”
Or clutter could mean you’re plain-o-lazy. Well, lazy is a loaded word, but it could mean that you’re not willing to take ownership of your space. Your inner adolescent has hijacked your brain and is refusing to adult and clean your room. Don’t laugh, I’ve met many adults who just don’t want to do the things that need to be done.
Do any of these ring a bell for you? What could your clutter be telling you about yourself and about what’s going on right now?