How other people’s clutter can affect you

What can you do if you have cleared all your own clutter, but the people you live with have no interest in clearing theirs? How will their clutter affect you?


Whenever I teach a Fast-Track Clutter Clearing online course, it’s a sure bet that some of the participants will ask me about clutter kept by people they live with, and how to help them let it go. They realize that if they clear their own clutter and other people in their home do not, they are going to be affected and held back by that.

Here’s an example of a situation like this:

‘I live with my mum who is definitely a clutterholic! I find myself laughing as I read your book because it’s like you wrote it about her. I see the importance of clearing clutter now and am going to make a start on mine. However, my mum has cluttered the majority of the house. So how do I apply the feng shui bagua to areas of my life if I cannot clear her clutter? Will the clutter in her room, for example, affect that area of my life?’

The feng shui bagua referred to here is a grid that can be laid over the plans of any building to discover how the different areas are connected to specific aspects of the lives of the occupants. For example, there’s an area that’s connected to prosperity, and having clutter in that area can clog cash flow and cause finances to stagnate. So if the mother happens to have clutter in the prosperity area of this home, it will affect not only her but the rest of her family too. There are nine areas of the bagua in all, covering aspects such as relationships, health, career, creativity, and so on. The full description can be found in Chapter 8 of my Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui book.

What can you do?

So is there anything you can do if you clear your own clutter but happen to share your home with someone who is still living knee-deep in junk or surrounded by mess?

Well, firstly, the good news is that many people find that when they start clearing their own clutter, the people they are close to often spontaneously start clutter clearing too. Nagging or threatening doesn’t work, and never take matters into your own hands by clearing their clutter for them without being invited (people can go berserk if you touch their stuff without permission, and feel traumatized for years after). But leading by example in this way often does the trick.

The other route is education – helping them to understand how their clutter affects them and the people they live with. Again, the direct route is not the most effective one here. It works best if they feel they discover this for themselves rather than being told about it, so just leave a copy of my book lying around where they will find it and read it.

But even if these two tactics fail to bring results, clutter clearing your own room will still help a lot, because that is where you sleep and spend the most time. And if you do a space clearing ceremony in your room too, that can change the energy so much that it will feel like a safe haven in the midst of all the chaos.

Of course, in the long term, there are decisions to be made about whether you stay living in a situation like this or move out and get a place of your own. But if this isn’t possible at the moment for whatever reason, I hope these tips will help.

Copyright © Clear Space Living Ltd 2011, updated 2022

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About Karen Kingston

Karen Kingston is a leading expert in clutter clearing, space clearing, feng shui, and healthy homes. Her two international bestselling books have combined sales of over three million copies in 26 languages and have established themselves as "must-read" classics in their fields. Her best-known title, Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, is now in its fifth edition. She is best known for her perspective-changing insights and practical solutions that enable more conscious navigation of 21st-century living.
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