Thursday, September 18, 2014

Letting Go of Guilt

Someone wrote me an email about their clutter situation:

"The topic is guilt.  Not at getting rid of things (although that is present), but guilt at letting the situation go THIS long, and having it affect my children.  How do you work through that guilt?
The fact that the clutter does NOT include things that are literal garbage or dirt is irrelevant as the clutter’s sick purpose seemed to be emotional insulation from hurts in life or preserving moments in time (you addressed these beautifully in your books).  As layers of clutter get peeled, very unpleasant anxiety surfaces!  But to take a quote from a Star Trek Voyager episode (“Cold Fire”) I try to “focus on the goal, not the task”.  
I'm sharing my response because what she brought up is a common situation.
Here's what I have to say:

Guilt involves self-blame. It says that "I could or should have not done what I did. I could have done otherwise, but I didn't." It's a crippler, because it doesn't inspire a different action that would bring the beneficial results. It doesn't encourage.

It's like pointing and accusing at yourself to make you feel badly so you'll change. But it rarely works, and it takes a toll on oneself.

It helps to have compassion when being affected by clutter. The presence of clutter exhausts. It creates anxiety. It's depressing. It makes a person sluggish. Plus there is often an insulating effect from clutter (as you mentioned) that makes a person cling to what no longer supports them. These are two powerful forces. While under their influence, it's very difficult to make a change. The compassion is seeing the effect for what it is. It helps bring understanding into the situation.

When I help people let go of clutter, I never feel they are wrong for being in their clutter situation. I understand how clutter can shut down a person's ability to take action. I think that helps them let go of their own feelings of guilt about the situation. There's a feeling of, "This clutter situation happened, let's see what we can do about it now."

When you remove guilt for being in this or any situation, it allows the space for change to happen. It inspires the energy and courage for change.

Since there's no way to go back in the past and take action, now is a good time. Actually it's the only time.

The guilt is the real clutter. When you see guilt for what it is, you can see how debilitating it is. You don't want to have guilt about the guilt. But compassion for yourself in the situation is what's healing.

This compassion can help you say to yourself, "I understand I'm in the midst of a clutter situation. I can see how it's restricting me in many ways. It's making me unhappy in my own home and life. I care about myself and want to help remove this pain so I can start enjoying my life."

This compassion can also help you when any anxiety comes up while clutter busting. "I understand that it's natural to feel all these emotions. I'm very open and vulnerable right now. Nothing bad is actually happening to me. I'm releasing old feelings that were trapped under the clutter. I'm going to take a deep breath, and put my hand on my heart, and say to myself, 'I love you.' and feel them pass."

Remember this element of kindness. There's energy in being kind and gentle to yourself. When you see someone fall and hurt themselves, you rush to their side to help them up. You can use that same compassion for yourself in this situation.

Give it a chance and try it on and let me know how it goes.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Being Mighty

Sometimes we have clutter in our lives because we are scared of our natural power.

We can get intimidated by the mightiness in us.

Maybe we were encouraged to be smaller when we were younger. Parents or teachers, in an effort to control our behavior, mollified us into being a size that wasn't intrusive to them. It made them feel safer, but it dampened our spirits.

Clutter has a way of doing the same thing. It acts as a heavy weight and keeps us from growing and expanding in our natural rhythms. Clutter deadens our creative spark. Bringing in and holding onto the clutter in our life, keeps us from living and experiencing our mighty ways.

But we can't be happy being a reduced version of ourselves. Our joy comes in expanding and standing tall.

I was working with a client who was aware that for most of her life, she had been hiding under her stuff. Both inside and outside herself. She felt safe under the heavy weights of clutter. But she was also miserable and scared.

Since she has been letting go of clutter over the past few months, she is noticing that she is coming to life. She's been speaking up for herself, when in the past she would remain silent. She's doing things that make her feel good, where previously she would ignore those desires. She's been feeling present and alive in the moment.

I said that it was great to feel her strength being lived and expressed.


Fall Sale

Between now and September 30th, you can get four 50-minute Skype clutter busting sessions for the price of three. That's $280. (A savings of $95.) Sessions can be scheduled for the month of September, or any time afterwards. Four sessions allows you to dig deep into the clutter in your life, and remove the things that are keeping you from living a full life.

Email at to set up your sessions.

Monday, September 15, 2014

You're Not Alone

My client was feeling embarrassed that she had clutter in her home. She felt it was a big uncomfortable secret of which her friends and clients were unaware. She felt if they knew, they would think less of her.

I said she wasn't alone. A lot of people I've worked with have felt that way. You can feel that you're the only one living with clutter. That other people have it under control.

But my experience is that everyone has clutter. It's in different degrees. Some people have it neatly stacked and organized. Some have it all over their home. Others have it stashed away in particular areas. We're aware of our own situation, and not of others.

But if you got a group of people together and they were honest about what was going on for them, you would see that clutter is common. 

That's why I write these blog posts, along with my books, to make people see that they are not alone. That it's normal to have clutter. And to encourage people to look and see what's no longer fitting their lives, and to remove these things. 

It's a positive direction that gets you out of feeling like you're a stuck bad person. You feel like it's a popular problem, and that you can find your way through by taking an honest kind look at what's in your life.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Saying "No" to Abuse

This week a couple of clients brought up a common issue. One spoke of how dejected and exhausted she felt every time she came home and saw her clutter. She also said that even though she rarely used most of her things, she had a hard time letting any of them go.

Another spoke of an organization she belonged to. She did hundreds of hours of free work for the group, but was never acknowledged for her work. They were also rude in the way they interacted with her. Even though she felt badly about how she was treated, she felt obliged to help them.

I told both my clients that when stay in a situation that causes you pain, you are in an abusive relationship. You're making the pain okay.

It's understandable because we live in a society where abuse, and acceptance of abuse is common. It can seem like it's something that we have to put up with.

I told my clients that no level of abuse is okay. You get to say no to a situation that causes you pain. You get to walk away when you are being hurt.

When it comes to being abused by the presence of things in your home that cause you anxiety, you can stop protecting them, and let them go. Nothing is of any value when it hurts you. No thing.

It's learning to say, "I'm important. My well-being matters. It's right for me to say 'this hurts!' and do what I need to do to remove it from my life. My feeling good is more important than any thing. I'm going to protect myself."

When we are in a situation where we are being hurt in any way by a group or individual, we can say, "What you are doing hurts me and it's going to stop or I'll leave" or we can leave.

You take your life back when you say, "No amount of abuse is okay." You can't lose when you take care of yourself in this way. It actually feels powerful to say, "No!" and to take the appropriate action.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Letting Go of the Whip

A recent client told me she was feeling badly that she was able to get rid of a lot of clutter when we worked together, but couldn't do any clutter busting on her own. She felt something was wrong with her.

I told her she wrong in her assumption. I reminded her of seven instances of clutter bustings she had done by herself. She had shared these stories with me at different times during our sessions together. I hadn't even asked her to do those clutter busts as homework. She did them on her own.

I told her that her false criticism was like a whip to get her to do more. Like she was whipping a horse to make it run faster. I said the whipping was clutter. It took away her experience of how well she was actually doing. It only served to slow her down.

When she realized what she had done, my client started laughing. The heaviness she'd been feeling was gone.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Waking Up

When you clutter bust, you trade away the distractions, the things that aren't supporting you, for the sense of freedom and connection for the things that do matter.

You're built to do this. It's part of your nature.

It may be out of use. You might have forgotten about it, or never even known about it.

But by taking an honest and open look at what's in your life, you're waking up the part of you that notices what doesn't fit you anymore. You begin to clearly see the things that hurt you and don't make your life a better place to be.

With that recognition comes the energy to remove what doesn't fit your life.

One of my clients recently said, "One of the great advantages of clutter busting is my growing awareness of my need to be kind to myself and being able to act on it."

Sunday, September 7, 2014

You're Enough

The world has a way of telling us were not enough. That there is something wrong with us. And that we need things (money, products, people, prestige, smarts) to feel and be better. 

But the thing is, we're okay now. We're great as we are. Basically we are amazing.