On a cold and snowy February night, I found myself driving to a workshop that I was hosting. At the time, I was testing out life as a professional organizer, and I had put together a few different workshops on topics relevant to decluttering and organizing. Except that this workshop - on the subject of incorporating mindful habits into your life - didn't fit the mold exactly. As I was thinking about how I was going to introduce myself and the topic of the workshop, a wave of anxiety swept over me. How would I reconcile a mindful habits workshop with hands-on decluttering and organizing business? Would my workshop participants feel duped? Would this make sense to anyone but me? Luckily my concerns were misguided. Not only did the topic make sense to my workshop participants, but this workshop (Miracle Mornings and Vision Boards) has become one of my most popular workshops.
The explanation for the workshop topic came easily to me that night: clutter manifests itself in many different ways in our lives. Physical clutter in our homes is visible and evident. Other types of clutter are harder to see. Emotional clutter is physical clutter's favorite sidekick, with relationship clutter, spiritual clutter, and digital clutter coming in close a second (amongst others). When I work with clients, we end up addressing all different types of clutter. I find myself suggesting ways to deal with their stuff... ALL their stuff.
Recently I was chatting with a client about all of this, and she asked the perfect question. She said, "I know I have a lot of clutter - physical and emotional, but, why? Why do I hang on to so much stuff? Why is this so hard?"
Hanging onto clutter is a fear based behavior. We are afraid we might need something in the future. We are afraid if we open that box of photographs we might need to deal with some uncomfortable emotions. We fear that we will offend someone if we don't keep a gift we don't like. We are worried that if we toss most of our kids' toddler scribbles away, we are tossing away that time in their lives. We connect experiences to physical items and exchange a lot of our lives taking care of these things, instead of exploring new experiences. We are afraid that if we deal with physical clutter, we will be forced to deal with emotional clutter. The list of fear based motivations goes on and on.
We only have so much physical and emotional space in our life. It's easy to clog up this space with fear based motivations. And where there is fear there is no room for other emotions - like love, peace, joy... No two emotions can occupy one single space. If you have physical clutter, such as a bunch of clothing that you don't like, you don't have room for the clothing that will bring you confidence and happiness. If you are dealing with emotional clutter, for example, you are afraid of the world not providing for you in the future, and then you can't focus on gratitude and be excited for what is to come.
You always have a choice. What will you fill your space with?