Monday, July 21, 2014

Clutter Spoils What Matters

My client found a plastic storage container in the back of his garage. It was filled with Star Wars memorabilia.

I asked if he still looked at, enjoyed, and used the Star Wars collectables. He said he hadn't since he was in high school. I asked if he would be okay with letting them go.

He looked down and said he didn't know. I asked what he was feeling. He said, "What if one day I want them again?"

I said the only thing you can be certain of is how you feel about something now. That's all you have.

If you don't like and use something and you won't let that thing go because you are worried that one day you might want it, you are living in fear. It's a fear of something that is not even happening. It's a fantasy. That fear spoils the current moment.

I pointed out that he sounded tired when he talked about the Star Wars items. He also looked pale and timid. I said holding on to things out of fear depletes you. It takes away your life. When something takes life from you, it's clutter.

I asked him about something that he liked. He talked about his books on audio engineering. He said that he loved reading those books. He put the knowledge that he got from them to use.

I said that when he talked about those books, he came to life. He sat up. His eyes got bright. He sounded strong. He felt alive. I said that's how you know when something serves you now.

My client saw the contrast and decided to let the Star Wars items go.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Mixed Bag

Sometimes a person, thing, or activity is a mixed-bag in your life.  It gives you some pleasure, but it also causes some pain. We tend to focus on the pleasure, and ignore the pain. But the pain still takes a toll.

A recent client had a record player in the guest room of her home. I asked if she liked listening to records on the player. She said she did, but it was sometimes a pain because the record player was old and it didn't always work.

I asked my client if she, her husband, or any of her friends knew how to fix the record player. She said she asked around, but no one knew how to fix it. 

I asked if she would be open to letting the record player go and getting a new one. She was resistant. She talked about how record players had always been a part of her life. She said she was feeling nostalgic.

I pointed out she didn't say anything positive about her current record player. Her only comment about it had been negative.

The only thing that truly matters is how you feel about something now.

My client thought about it and said it was too hard to listen to music on her record player because she kept expecting it to stop working during a song. Listening to music that way always made her anxious. She decided to donate the player for parts, and purchase a new one.

Is there any thing, person, or activity in your life that you have mixed emotions about? Take a deeper look and ask if there's something you can do to fix that, or would it be best to let that go.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Too Much of a Good Thing

My client said, "I have a problem. I have more clothes than I have space for."

She said a similar thing about her books. "I love reading books, but there's no way I can read them all. I don't even know what books I've got, I have so many. At times I've bought the same book twice. "

I could tell she was feeling badly and alone about being in this situation. I told her that she's not alone. Many other people have these same clutter circumstances.

I said sometimes there's something you really like, but you have so much of it, that your experience is also unpleasant. You don't know where everything is. You get overwhelmed thinking about all the items. Sometimes you buy something twice because you didn't know you already had the thing.

The situation is a mixed bag. There's both pleasure and pain. It helps to be matter-of-fact about what's happening. There's too much of a good thing and you're suffering. It doesn't serve you.

I said that she could tell herself, "I love to read, but the amount I have makes it uncomfortable and painful for me. I don't like to feel that way about my books. So that means some of the books will have to go. So that I can have books to read and enjoy, but not so many books that it hurts me."

Then you go into the books, or clothes (or anything else you feel overwhelmed about), and ask, "Is this something I love and enjoy now, or not?" You're discriminating between what brings you joy, and what you are sort of okay about, or don't actually care for. The latter two are the things to begin to let go of.

Remind yourself again, "If I keep everything, I feel lousy and can't enjoy myself. To protect my peace of mind and my health, I'm going to use my discerning eye and ask, "Will keeping this add to my serenity, or will it be too much for me?"

The great thing about doing this process is it puts you in touch with yourself. You are considering yourself with each choice. Each time you make a decision, you create a stronger connection with your inner-knowingness. That experience alone brings greater joy. It makes you less dependent on your things to make you happy.

I told my client that the clutter busting takes the time it takes. I said at times she might feel like she'll never get through everything and she should give up. But I encouraged her to be patient with herself. Her endeavors will pay off.

We began the questioning of her things.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Kitchen Clutter Bust

Last week I helped a Skype client clutter bust cabinets in her kitchen. I chose that as the place to begin because when she described the situation in her kitchen, she winced.

The body doesn't lie when it comes to clutter.

I had my client go through the contents of her cabinets piece-by-piece. She was surprised to find that she and her family never or no longer used at least half of the food and kitchen supplies.

One of the items, something that was used for making yogurt, she called, "The bain of my existance!" She wasn't sure what to do with the item. I said anything that hurts you in some way is clutter. You can try and rationalize its place in your life. But you'll only feel okay when you let it go. She put the item in the charity container.

I encourage you to take a look at the items in your kitchen. That includes both food and cooking and cleaning supplies. I've seen a lot of clients assume they need most everything, but then upon taking a look are surprised at how much of it is no longer a part of their life.

That's because there are a lot of hiding spaces in a kitchen. I remember once working with a client and we took all her cookware out of the cabinets and put them on her living room floor. She had a big living room and the cookware filled the entire floor space. She couldn't believe what she saw. She realized she only used about ten of the items. She let the rest go.

It helps to take all the items out of the cupboard, cabinet, or shelves and put them on the counter. You get more clarity when the items you are clutter busting are in a different than usual environment. Then go through one item at a time, asking yourself, "Do I use and enjoy this, or not?" If you don't answer, "Yes," then consider the item clutter. The feeling of freedom and peace of mind you are seeking comes when you let go of what's no longer a part of your life.

If you'd like some assistance with your kitchen clutter bust, I'd be happy to help. You can reach me at brooks@clutterbusting.com.

Friday, July 11, 2014

You're Not Alone

I get the sense when I'm working with clients that they feel alone in their clutter situation. They sometimes tell me that they think other people have it together, but not themselves.

I tell them that everyone has clutter. Most people never share or show their clutter situation to others.

That's why I like bringing it out into the light. It can help take away feelings of shame and guilt. Those heavy feelings are often the culprit that keeps people from letting go.

Once you see clutter's a common problem, that's there's nothing wrong with you, you can get the courage and conviction to let the clutter go.

Even me, someone who helps people let go of clutter for a living, has clutter. This week I got a feeling that some of my files, both paper and electronic, were clutter. I asked my wife to help me clutter bust my files. She went through them with me and I ended up tossing out about 75% of files that I no longer needed or used.

Afterwards I felt like I got a big piece of my life back. I say that because I want you to have that feeling too. The whole purpose of clutter busting is so you can feel good again.

I was reminded from my experience that it helps to have the assistance during a clutter bust. It makes it easier to have the discerning, supportive, and encouraging eye. I'm here to help if you need me. I can be reached at brooks@clutterbusting.com.

............

I'd like to share another personal clutter bust. I recently lowered the prices that I charge for my clutter busting services. I worked with a business consultant and they suggested the change.

But after making the switch I didn't feel good. Something felt off. When I feel out of sorts, I take it as a red flag that there's clutter going on.

I took a look inside and realized that it didn't feel right to lower my prices. I saw that I offer a valuable and powerful service that helps people change their lives. It was important to honor that.

So I raised my rate back to my regular rate of $95 an hour. Afterwards I felt peaceful and strong. I took care of myself, and respected the work that I'm grateful I get to do.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Personal Story

I want to share my own recent clutter busting experience. 

A couple of weeks ago my wife, stepson, and I decided to go dog shopping. We went to a pet shelter and looked at the dogs. We found a dog that the three of us loved.

We brought the dog home that day. It was exciting. The dog seemed like a perfect fit. He wasn't a barker. He played gently. He was comfortable in our home. We loved having him there.

That night my wife and I put his cage in our bedroom so he wouldn't feel alone. The dog got in his cage, plopped down and fell asleep. My wife and I went to bed and fell asleep in minutes.

I woke up around one am and my lungs felt tight. I figured I was being effected by the dog, but thought maybe it was just a temporary thing. I got up and slept in the guest room. I woke up in the morning with a headache, burning lungs, tight breathing, and itching face.

I thought, "Oh, no, I'm really allergic to the dog!"

I thought that it would break my wife and stepson's hearts, not to mention my own, to let the dog go. So, I tried enduring the allergy symptoms that day, hoping they would pass.

My wife and stepson knew I was suffering, but went along with my wanting to wait it out and see if I would get better.

My symptoms got worse. I felt lousy.

Still I thought, "I can't let this dog go. We all love him. I'll just endure this and be okay. I don't want to let everyone down." At the same time, I knew that it was hurting me to live that way, and that it wasn't going to get better.

I was confused and didn't know what to do.

That afternoon I worked with a client on Skype. When I help someone clutter bust, my intuition opens up in a big way.

During the clutter bust, my intuition said to me about the dog situation, "This isn't working for me!"

I thought about how I tell clients that it's okay to say, "No" to something that hurts. When some thing, person or activity causes us pain in some way, it's clutter and doesn't have a place in our lives.

When I finished the session, I told my wife that we had to let the dog go. She was hurt, but understood. We drove the dog back to the pet shelter.

This was a powerful clutter bust for me because I had to consider myself in a very confusing situation. What got me through it was the realization that it was most important to take care of myself.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Trash in Your Home

Things that you no longer love and use are trash in your home. It helps to see that your home has become a receptacle for some unwanted stuff. Not to make you feel badly, but to inspire you to take out the trash.

I said this to a client last week. She had piles of things on the floor next to her bed. There was also stacks of stuff on her dresser. She hadn't looked through what was there for years. I wanted her to associate the stacks with trash to inspire her to do something positive about the situation. 

My client started picking up one thing at a time and I asked if she liked and used the item. It was hard for her at first because even though she hadn't used some things in three years, she was afraid to let them go because part of her was worried she might one day use the item.

I said that when you live that way, you end up living with things you don't care for. Even though they may look nice, or your spent a lot of money on them, or they are in good condition, or they are nicely stacked, or you once loved and used the things, they are on the level of trash because they are not serving you in any way. It's like living in a landfill.

By removing and taking out the trash, you take care of yourself and you feel better. 

Seeing the clutter as trash in her home clicked in for my client. She started picking up items and questioning them on her own. Many of the pieces went in to either trash or recycling bags.