Taking a Deeper Look

A blog reader wrote, "I’m feeling a little overwhelmed in my life right now.  What I notice is that when I feel this way clutter grows. I live in a very small apartment and feel I can’t expand myself. I also notice that because the kitchen is soo tiny I can leave it for ages and then it becomes unbearable, and a mountain to sort out.  Which I do …. Eventually."

She continued, "It seems that I have this as a repeating pattern, washing up (doing the dishes) overwhelms me.  I dislike doing it.  I don’t have a dishwasher so it’s all done by hand and there is never enough room to wash everything due to lack of space. I also realise that my Mother hated being in the kitchen and especially washing up … surprise, surprise!  I see the connection, just can’t seem to kick the habit. Can you speak about how to tackle such habits?"

Thanks for sharing your clutter situation with everyone. It helps to share so we can see we're not alone. 

First, I suggest leaving off "a little" when you say you are "overwhelmed." It's bothering you enough to write about it. It helps to be honest about how painful the situation is. Sometimes we try and diminish a clutter situation. That's the part of us speaking that is hanging on. What helps change occur is to admit that you are really hurting. You wrote, "it becomes unbearable." That's the honesty that can help you through this. The greater the pain, the bigger incentive to do something about it.

Second, is it possible to move and find another space to live in? You wrote, "The kitchen is soo tiny," "I live in a very small apartment," "I can't expand myself," "I don't have a dishwasher," "never enough room," and "lack of space." Imagine your living space is an article of clothing that you are trying on. Does it feel good when you are in it? What you said makes it sound like it's too tight.

Third, I don't know thing-wise what else is going on in your space. It's possible that there are a lot of things in your living space that are no longer a part of your life. This would make you feel the space is too small. I would encourage you to do a clutter bust of your home and see how that makes you feel.

Lastly, part of you is living your mother's experience. That's normal. We learn how to see things through our parents eyes. As kids, it's in our biology to adapt our parent's habits. That's how we learn to speak and act and take care of ourselves in the world. We pick up good habits and we pick up bad ones. Once we move out from our parent's world, we can start to look at our habits and see which ones are beneficial for our life and which aren't. That takes the time it takes.

Your mom hated being in the kitchen and doing dishes. Stand in your kitchen, clothes your eyes and breathe. Feel the sensations in your body. Then feel your body in the kitchen. See what comes up for you. Take your time, explore.

Clutter is often deeper than it appears. It helps to take the time to investigate. Bring your curiosity with you and see what is revealed. You'll often be surprised. Let me know if you need assistance.