It can feel safe to be amidst clutter. There's a insulated sense of being protected from the big bad world. The clutter can seem like it cushions us from the world's blows. We can feel like we are hiding amidst our stuff.
Living this way takes a toll because that which we're hiding behind becomes one more thing that is pushing down its weight on us. The presence of the clutter stifles and dulls us, shutting us off from our feelings. We become isolated and are cut off from helpful and positive opportunities and solutions.
I worked with a client on the phone last week who told me he was feeling like he was protecting himself with his clutter. He said it felt like the people in his life were pounding on him with their needs, and he was tired and had nothing to give. He said his stuff felt like fortress walls that made him feel, "Comfortably numb."
I said that clutter was a way for him to disappear. When he was hiding out in his room, the world temporarily left him alone. But the problem was he also disappeared from himself. When you desensitize yourself with your stuff, you become numb to your own needs. It becomes impossible to take care of yourself in a healthy way.
My client said he understood conceptually, but he felt scared to create any open space in his home.
I said there was an alternative that was safe and helpful at the same time. I said that by eliminating the clutter piece-by-piece, he could create a living space where he would be in touch with his feelings and what's happening in his life without getting overwhelmed. True safety is a healthy awareness of yourself in connection with your surroundings. With a clear mind, you can deal with things as they happen to you.
Just hearing this gave my client the space of thought to say that if he was feeling stronger and clear-headed, he would be better at saying no to people when he needed to. He also said that maybe one or two of the people in his life might have to go too. I said that by giving himself the space to get his strength back, he would know what he needed to do.
He liked the sound of this. We started the clutter bust.