Many people unconsciously use clutter to suppress emotions they don’t want to feel. But this can block the flow of joy in their life too. It’s a form of self-sabotage.
The four categories of clutter
In Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, I list the four categories of clutter:
- Things you do not use or love
- Things that are untidy or disorganized
- Too many things in too small a space
- Anything unfinished
The story I am about to tell is a lovely example of the untidy and disorganized type of clutter, how it can affect you, and the remarkable changes that can come about when you restore order to your space.
Clutter as a coping mechanism
This is the true story of a 13-year-old Norwegian girl, who once travelled to the UK in a group of 20 students, as part of a four-week language programme for them all to improve their English. Each stayed in the home of an English family in a small seaside town. The idea was for them to become fully immersed in the culture and speak English all the time.
It was the first time she’d ever been away from home by herself and long before the era of mobile phones. The only way to stay in contact with her parents was by letter and she soon started to feel homesick. She yearned for them to come to England to collect her and take her home. But they never did.
The coping mechanisms she developed for this situation were to create huge piles of clothing on the floor of the room in the house where she was staying and a mound of cheap cosmetics on her desk, purchased with the pocket money she had been given for the trip.
This outer chaos mirrored the internal chaos she was feeling. She also found that in some magical way, it helped to dull her feelings and make the homesickness more bearable. If she couldn’t control where in the world she was, well at least she could control the state of the small room she felt forced to live in.
‘I remember telling myself, that when I felt better, I would clear my room,’ she said.
How clearing clutter can change your life
Then one day, she woke up and couldn’t stand the mess any longer. She completely tidied her room. ‘And guess what?’, she said. ‘I started to really enjoy my experience abroad!’
She was the youngest of the group of students and discovered to her delight that they really liked her and gave her a lot of support. The married couple she was staying with were lovely and she started to enjoy the visits they took her on to local places of interest and the beach. When it was time for her to return home to Norway, she liked being in England so much that she didn’t want to leave.
Looking back on the experience, she is certain that the turning point happened at the moment she tidied up her room. Up until that time, she didn’t want to be there and had refused to open to the adventure. The act of tidying up her space didn’t just put her belongings in place. It changed her inner feelings too.
Clutter suppresses emotions
There is always more to clutter than meets the eye. All four categories of clutter suppress emotions in one way or another. It’s easiest to see with the type that is untidy and disorganized but it is always involved in some way with the other types too.
For example, living surrounded by things you do not love or use allows stagnant energy to accumulate in your home. This dulls your feelings and causes you to feel stuck in the past. Having too many things in too small a space inhibits the flow of energies, which causes a numbing of your emotions and an inability to move forward. And unfinished tasks or projects take their toll on your psyche, making you mentally or emotionally less available for anything new.
Clearing any kind of clutter immediately brings about a change at the physical level as well as the mental and emotional levels. And if you go deep enough and learn to forge a healthier relationship to your possessions, it can also facilitate changes at the spiritual level too.
All this just by clearing your clutter?
Yes. Its effect can be truly amazing, as our 13-year-old Norwegian girl discovered and still remembers to this day as a woman in her fifties. England has remained one of her favourite places in the world and she knows that regular clutter clearing has helped her to continue to open to and embrace new experiences, which has kept her life on track.
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Copyright © Karen Kingston 2019