If you’re like most people, you probably have at least a little clutter going on in your life. Most of us think of clutter as the physical stuff around us that we don’t really want or need. Those boxes in the attic from when you moved two years ago or that closet that you do your best to avoid lest you get buried in an avalanche are the typical things we think about when we talk about clutter. But it’s much bigger than just the stuff.
Stuff is part of it, but I like a broader definition of clutter. One that includes anything that we hold on to that gets in the way of living our best life, and that applies to all areas of our lives. It can certainly be stuff, but it can be toxic relationships that we just can’t let go of, a job that makes us miserable but pays the bills, limiting beliefs that we have about what we can or can’t do or even the emotional baggage that we lug around with us all day. All of these (and the examples are nearly endless) get in the way of us doing the things we truly want to do and ultimately rob us of what’s truly possible in our lives.
Let’s take the physical stuff as an example, as it’s the most tangible and nearly everyone can relate. Maybe you have a pile of birthday cards going back years because you just can’t bring yourself to throw them into the recycling bin. Or maybe it’s stacks of magazines that you really want to go through one day when you finally have the time. Or my personal favorite, the clothes that are a size too big or a size too small that you hang on to ‘just in case’. I’m sure you’re already thinking of a few things of you own.
What do all of these examples have in common? They make you feel bad. You don’t throw the birthday cards out because you feel like it would mean that you didn’t appreciate them or don’t care about the people who gave them to you. Those magazines are a constant reminder to you that you don’t follow through or finish things, and throwing them out would mean that was absolutely true. The extra clothes are there to remind you that failure is just around the corner and inevitable, so you better hang on to them.
Sounds simple, but if you’ve ever cleared any of your own clutter, you know it’s anything but. It’s hard work and you have to dig deep, sometimes REALLY deep to find out what’s going on emotionally around the stuff (or people, or baggage etc.). If you don’t, it just comes back and usually with a vengeance because now you feel like you failed (again, feeling bad), so trying again is even harder. But on the other side of all the clutter is your life, and no matter how many times you have to try, your life is worth it.
So as we start another week, take a moment to think about some of the clutter that is getting in the way and what it would feel like if it were gone. You might need some help and support to do it, but you’d do it if your life depended on it, wouldn’t you? And the life you could have does.