You Can't Hide Chaos

I saw an ad for an organizing bin that said, "Put a lid on clutter." It was basically a plastic container with a lid. The idea was that you put the stuff you can't figure out what to do with into the bin, snap on the lid, and store the container where it's unseen.

In that moment you're probably supposed to get a sense of relief, like you've taken care of the clutter, and now you have a more ordered and organized space.

But in my experience people don't get that relief.

The problem is the stuff is still negatively affecting you. It doesn't matter if it's sitting in a bin hiding in your closet, basement, attic, garage or in a storage locker an hour away. You still suffer from the effects.

This is because if something is chaotic for you, the chaos is not in the thing, it's in your relationship to the thing. The discord is in you. When you see the source of the chaos, it becomes easier to let the thing go.

I once worked with a client whose basement storage crawl space was jam-packed with plastic storage bins. She rarely crawled in there to retrieve anything. She would fill a new container and then slide-push it against the others to fit it in.

She wanted to continue to ignore the stuff and work in another part of the house. I said no matter how hard she worked on any other part of her house, the stuff in this space would spoil any chance for her to feel peaceful in her home. She agreed to give it a try.

I crawled into the space to check it out. It was dimly lit with two bare bulbs. There were plastic tubs as far as I could see. They were covered with dust and had a heavy feeling about them. It felt like a tomb, littered with corpse-filled caskets. There's no mistaking that dead, dull energy of clutter.

I ventured into the space and pulled out a very old bin. It was filled with a bunch of piano song books. They belonged to her ex-husband. She and her ex split up long ago.

A lot of angry and sad feelings came up for her regarding her ex. She didn't want to deal with the emotions and said we should put the container with the books back in the storage space. I asked if she wanted her ex to move back in. She said, "No, never!" I said then she'd be better off letting go of the books because his energy was in there. He was basically living in this storage bin in the crawl space. She got it and said the books could go.

We questioned how the contents of each container affected her. When she got overwhelmed and wanted to put stuff back in there, I pointed out the things would still haunt her through the floorboards.

I made sure we took breaks. I kept encouraging her. This is how we approached each container.
If you're working on your own, I recommend trying this approach.