When we live in the presence of clutter, we are not ourselves. Clutter has a dampening effect on us. It reduces our capacity for insight. It keeps us on edge and we get used to living that way and we forget what it feels like to have the experience of being relaxed in our homes. Hopefully you start feeling, "I don't like living this way. This isn't normal. I'd rather enjoy where I live."
This week I worked with a client who got tired of living with her clutter. She didn't know where to start so she called me to come over and help her. She took me on a tour of her home. When we got to the bedroom she shared with her husband, I could feel the discord. It felt like a shrill piercing current. There were large stacks of things on the nightstands next to both sides of the bed. There were piles of things surrounding the nightstands. The space under the bed was completely filled with stuff. She looked really uncomfortable in this room. I said, "Let's start here." She said, "Really?" I told her how unhappy she looked. She understood.
I started by taking things out from under the bed. There were a couple of plastic storage containers filled with financial papers from ten to fifteen years ago. She didn't even know they were down there. She got upset at herself that she didn't know. I said, "It's not your fault. You're feeling overwhelmed. When you get that way, you lose perspective. But if we take care of these, you get a part of yourself back. It will be easier to maintain your living space." We went through the papers. They all went in a pile for shredding.
Then we came across two storage containers carrying a lot of her kids art work. She felt badly even thinking about letting any of it go. I asked her if she or her kids look at them. She said no. I said, "Let's go through the art work and pick out your favorite ones. This will make it easier to look at the art if you feel like it." We went through the art. It turns out most of it she didn't care for. She picked out about thirty pieces that she really liked and tossed the rest. She decided to get a portfolio container for each of her kids and separate the art out into them. This way they would be easier to see and enjoy. Part of clutter busting is finding the things that do matter to you and finding ways to enjoy these things in your life.
We also found a big storage container of wrapping paper. I asked her to find another place she could put this. I said, "It's important to make your bedroom a peaceful space. To allow this to happen, it's good to keep the space under your bed free. The presence of open space has a calming effect. It's just as much a thing as anything else in your home. You want to cultivate a peace of mind in your bedroom. This will be a new habit that you'll cherish in the long run."
Next, we cleared off the nightstand on her side of the bed. She had about 35 books on and below her nightstand. I said, "When you go to bed at night, you take everything near you, with you. Things resonate. Too many things make you agitated. Let's see which things matter to you most." It turns out a third of the books she didn't care for. She chose to donate these. She picked five that she wanted to read. She put her favorite on top of her nightstand and the other four on the bottom part of the stand. The others were reference books. They went into her family's library. There were a lot of things on and around the nightstand that were trash. She tossed those. Her husband wasn't there, so we couldn't work on his side of the bed.
I said, "The main thing you want to do is keep the space below your bed empty, and to keep the minimum amount of things next to your bed. When you go to bed tonight and turn out the light, lay quietly and feel the space. Feel the new peace that you created. You're learning to have an awareness of your space. This helps you keep in touch with where you live. When you notice something is causing you unrest, get rid of it. Feeling at home in your living space will make you happy."
This weekend, take time to look at the things on, under and around your bed. Imagine you are in a hotel room. How would that make you feel to see what you see? What can you do to make it more comfortable? It's worth going through your bedroom space in the same way I did with my client. Most of us don't get enough sleep and it effects us adversely. The presence of clutter disrupts our sleep. You deserve to sleep well. The great thing is, this is something you can do. You don't need anything but trash bags. A little effort goes a long way.