|I’ve been cleaning up my garden a bit, now that it’s autumn and winter will soon be upon us. That's made me think about the constant work involved in maintaining a house, keeping it clean, in good repair, uncluttered. UNCLUTTERED!
I know very few people who don’t complain about the clutter in their lives. Most people see it as a “labor of Sisyphus,” where you make a supreme effort to get your stuff organized, only to be confronted with the same problem again and again. A few people go to the other extreme – houses so clean and neat (sterile?) that you could probably serve dinner off the floor with no ill effects.
Why are we confronted with clutter and too much stuff? There are lots of logical reasons: the low price of consumer goods enables us to buy many more things; the inability to get things repaired leaves us with fairly new objects that we’re reluctant to throw away; advertising encourages us to buy more and more; some homes lack adequate storage; inherited family heirlooms or special collections need their space; some people stockpile for emergencies or buy in quantity at box stores.
Those reasons all sounded really good, but they’re missing the point. Clutter is stagnant energy that causes tiredness and lethargy. It doesn’t leave room for new things to come into your life and you feel bogged down. It can keep you feeling unfocused and aid in helping you put things off until tomorrow. It can make you feel ashamed, or depressed. It can distract you from what is truly important, and prevent you from ever getting out of the starting gate on projects.
Here’s a question to ask yourself:
“If my environment is a reflection of what’s going on in my life and inside of me, what is it saying?”
Is it saying, for example, that your attention is scattered and you are unable to focus on any one thing? That you are clinging to old ways of doing things and are unable to get out of a rut? That you don’t feel worthy of living in a clean, well-functioning home? Do you acquire things out of a feeling of scarcity, or use shopping as a way to relieve anxiety?
Here are some practical steps for your clutter, in the “one day at a time” mode:
1. Make your bed when you get up
2. Put things away as you use them
3. Wash all dishes before going to bed
4. Declutter one thing per day (no matter how small)
About the author:
Martha Ruske is a marriage and family therapist in California. She currently works with people in long-term recovery from alcoholism, helping them step out into the fuller life they deserve. Find out about the benefits of recovery life coaching and get a free workbook at www.intentionalpath.com
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