For awhile now I’ve accepted the fact that my reluctance to throw things away goes way beyond my love for my old Archie comic books. I love stuff. At any given moment, I have at least 3 things in my hands. I am a self-proclaimed bag lady. I know for sure that I find comfort in placing a lot of things around me. However the older I get, I find myself getting more irritated at all the junk I’ve accumulated in my life.
The one thing that being in my 30s has brought me, is clarity. I’m much clearer about my major goals and I’m no longer too immature or too scared to pursue them. One of my biggest revelations is that clutter is a major hurdle for me! Clutter goes way beyond the pile of papers that always seem to accumulate on the kitchen table. “Clutter” is the physical object in your space that distracts you and limits your scope. Clutter is the mental noise that hinders you from thinking clearly. What is the clutter junking up your life?
Last week’s Restored Challenge was about getting rid of one major item each day. I’ll be honest-I failed miserably. Astronomically, even. I never threw away a daggone thing. It highlighted the reason I even put myself up to the challenge in the first place-that I have an unhealthy obsession with things around me. No, I’m not at hoarder status…..yet. However, left to my own devices, I’m afraid that I’ll be the crazy cat lady at 70 yelling at my family when they try to throw away my old VHS tapes. Every time I’m in a cluttered space that I’ve created, all I can think about is how I need to straighten up and do better. I add more things to my mental to-do list which is already a mile long, I get frustrated, and never clean up one item. However, I cannot deny the happiness I feel when I throw things away. I feel accomplished and refreshed when I have a clean space to work in. Despite all of that, some believe that messiness can contribute to a more creative lifestyle. Some studies have found that people who were subjected to messy environments, made more creative decisions. In other words, people in tidy environments were more boring and stuck to more traditional routines. At least I can say I’m not boring!
I’m afraid that I’ll be the crazy cat lady at 70 yelling at my family when they try to throw away my old VHS tapes.
That’s still not to say that you can’t benefit from maintaining some kind of order-even if it’s messy order. The first step is to understand the root of your messiness. Below are 4 signs that you may be struggling with clutter:
Do you really need your report cards from the 5th grade? Do you think buying your third pair of pink pumps will do you any good? Many times, we buy or keep things because we think they make us feel better. We experience a “high” when we make new purchases. However, you should make sure you’re buying something because you need it, rather than an attempt to fill a void. Accumulating things to fill a void will only lead to more stuff as you find that the last thing you acquired wasn’t enough. Guess what, it’ll never be enough! If you refuse to let some items go, maybe holding on to that item keeps you in a certain time period that you don’t want to leave or get over. The only thing it does is distract you from the current moment. The next time you’re considering whether you should buy or keep an item, think about the next time you’ll need to use it. If that next time is more than a year away, or if you only see yourself using it once in a year’s time, you may need to think again.
You may be using stuff to hide your insecurity about something in your life. I hate to get so deep into it, but it’s true! Are you buying that dress because you expect someone to like you or want you more? When you base your lifestyle on the expectations of others, you’re already at a deficit. A lot of times, we don’t buy things because it makes us happy, we buy them because we want to impress those around us. You can’t keep that up for long. Pretty soon, you’ll get tired, or your pockets will get tired. Yes, it is ok to want better for yourself, but if you're more concerned about other people's reactions than your own happiness as a result of the purchase, you might just have an insecurity.
Our Obsession with Stuff
Somehow along the way we convinced ourselves that the more we have, the better off we are. Accumulating a lot of things, even when they’re not needed, can be a sign of status, especially in the US. We buy bigger houses and cars to fit all of our stuff. We don’t realize that we’re buying these things to satisfy an irrational desire to compete with everyone around us. There are plenty of people who believe that America has a clutter problem. The convenience of buying and accumulating (through amazon, craigslist, ebay,etc), doesn’t make the problem better. Everything is literally at our fingertips, and without thinking we can get more. We're better off when we stop at "just enough" instead of "more". Besides, when you think about it, who really needs a banana slicer-a knife will do!
The Myth of Comfort
We are often hesitant to give up what we’re used to. Even if it’s not good for us. It gives us a sense of comfort knowing that we can control and handle the clutter that we’ve been used to for years. Instead of trying something new and different, we settle for the junk we have around us. Not everything is meant to be thrown out or given away in your life. However, there are some things we hold on to, and some of those things specifically hold us back from forward movement. Grudges can create some of the most toxic clutter in your life. When you are focused on the hurt inflicted from someone in your past, your whole world adjusts to figure out how to deal with that grudge. Instead of letting it go, we work double-time to address those hurt feelings and we miss new opportunities that are staring us dead in the face. Forgiveness, though one of the hardest things, is one of the most freeing things you can do for yourself. It frees you from the shackles of vengeance and hate, and provides a clarity that you would have never had if you hadn’t made the choice to forgive.As everything in life, it’s a work in progress. It’s a daily struggle for me to stop accumulating more. It’s an even bigger struggle for me to give things up! I may repeat the challenge this week so I can try again-that’s how important it is to address the junk and clutter in your life. What things will you consider giving up this week?
- August 10, 2015
- Tiffany A