For years it remained concealed under the floors I walked every day…
I went about life trying my best to avoid it, but I lived in constant fear that someone would walk down there and uncover the secret I kept hidden…
For years I did a pretty good job pretending it wasn’t there… but every time I would get to the bottom of the stairs, I would instantly remember why I never wanted to go down there… but our laundry room was located at the far end of the basement, and so I would have to go down there when needed to do laundry… (meaning, I’d reached the point where there’s-no-more-clothing-and-I’ve-worn-my-underwear-longer-than-I-will-EVER-admit) and then, ALL the clutter I’d thrown, kept, stored, and ignored in that 1000 sq. ft. basement would mock me.
I didn’t know it then, but all the clutter I could see was the result of the internal clutter I carried and refused to get rid of; years of unresolved conflict, pain, memories, guilt, attachment, fear, bitterness, and procrastination were hidden beneath the surface of what others saw when they looked at my life. The external clutter I could see and touch was only a reflection of something deeper going on inside of my heart, mind, and soul.
As I continued to struggle to gain control of “my stuff”, I realized my “clutter issues” were so much bigger than a garage sale could ever solve. A deeper clutter I’d been avoiding became obvious to me… and for the first time I realized if I was ever going to be clutter-free, I was going to have to go deeper than the piles of my laundry and look beyond the piles of junk and actually deal with ALL the negative thoughts, damaging beliefs, and painful feelings that had been holding me captive for too long… because they played a part behind EVERY piece of clutter I owned.
UNDER THE SURFACE
One of the biggest mistakes people make, is to think the answer in “dealing with clutter” is to “simply” remove it, but throwing away the clutter you see (no matter how much there is) is only a temporary solution for a bigger issue. Clutter isn’t just what we can hold in our hands… or see on our hips. If you want to be clutter-free, you need to go deeper and get to the “heart” of the struggle.
Clutter is anything that overtakes space. It spills out into areas it doesn’t belong in and owns it. And while most people think of clutter as the “junk” you don’t need or want or use, the external clutter seen is only a reflection of the internal clutter hiding deep inside your mind, heart, and soul. All the negative thoughts, damaging beliefs, and painful feelings are the reasons behind why you keep your stuff… and why you still want more.
For this reason, the internal clutter needs to be dealt with FIRST because it controls what you believe, what you think, what you say, how you feel, and what you do and will prevent you from getting rid of your physical clutter. You will never get rid of the physical clutter in your life until you break free of the clutter inside of you.
Whatever you’re trying to forget, unwilling to admit, refuse to feel, or may not even realize… all of that internal clutter influences the way you think, feel, and act every day, and if you don’t get rid of that clutter, it will hold you captive and wind up showing itself through the clutter you see.
WHERE CLUTTER LIVES
Clutter captures you in two ways; externally – what can be seen or touched (not “things” but also your physical body) and internally – what’s felt (your emotions), believed (your soul), or thought (your mind). External and internal clutter “live” in four areas of our lives…
Physical clutter is obvious clutter; the chaotic house, the messy car, the the piles of papers on your desk, the rooms stuffed full, the thousands of unread emails, the excess weight, the storage shed filled to the ceiling, the mounds of laundry, the bulging closets, disorganized drawers, the dirty dishes in the sink (and on the counter top and in the dishwasher).
Physical clutter is the space taken up in the places you live. This external clutter is what we can see and touch, and serves as a constant reminder of how you’ve “failed” to create the life you want… which is why we usually try to take care of the physical clutter issues in our lives first.
When it comes to clutter, you can throw it out, sell it all, store it up, squeeze it into a pair of Spanx, or give it away… but if you don’t deal with the issue of WHY you have it to begin with, it will only be a matter of time before you’re surrounded by clutter again. ~When Clutter Confuses Your Peace
While physical clutter is embarrassing and discouraging, if you don’t deal with the internal clutter in your life, the external clutter will just keep showing up. If you want to get rid of the physical clutter in your life, you must get rid of the emotional, mental, and spiritual clutter first.
Emotional clutter is the space taken up in your heart. This internal clutter is best described as what you feel. Much of the physical clutter in your life is a result of the deeper emotional clutter you haven’t dealt with. When emotional clutter is ignored long enough and the negative feelings aren’t released, they take over the space and shape you into something you were never meant to be.
Emotional clutter is difficult to get rid of because it’s not rational or logical and it’s rooted in fear. If you want to get rid of the physical clutter in your life, than you must get rid of the fear that you won’t be happy, successful, accepted, worthy, or good enough if you get rid of something.
Mental clutter is the space taken up in your mind. This internal clutter is best described as what you think. The mind is a powerful thing, and can control the heart (your emotions) in good ways… and bad. When mental clutter is ignored and negative thoughts are allowed to exist, they can overtake the heart and convince you give up, give in, and surrender hope.
Negative thoughts will only confuse the truth. If you want to get rid of the physical clutter in your life, than you must get rid of the lies you’ve been playing over and over in your mind… both the ones you’ve told yourself, and the lies that have been spoken over you.
Spiritual clutter is the space taken up in your soul. This internal clutter is best described as what you believe. It influences all of the other clutter in your life (emotional, mental, and physical). It’s like a compass… and what you believe will always direct your heart, your thoughts, and your actions in the strongest of ways… good or bad.
When your beliefs don’t line up what what God’s desires are for you, you will feel restless and as if “a piece of you has died” because your soul is being taken up by things that aren’t supposed to be there. If you want to get rid of the physical clutter in your life, than you must get rid of the rules you’ve created that have been keeping you imprisoned.
THE REST OF THE STORY
Twelve years have passed since I started down the road to a clutter-free life and began my minimalist journey pursuing more in less. I’d like to tell you I never have issues with clutter anymore, but our 1300 mile move from Minnesota to Idaho proved otherwise, and while my life (and clutter) doesn’t look the same as it did twelve years ago, the truth is… I fight some kind of clutter every day.
Some days I go to bed with clean kitchen counters, organized closets, and all the laundry done… and other days, I swear the “junk drawer” has emptied itself out onto every flat space in my house, the closets have repelled every piece of children’s clothing (what else could be the answer?) and the laundry room is threatening to take me down in a blaze of glory.
But there is one difference from that woman, today… I REFUSE to allow myself to go back to how it was… because I will not allow myself to become who I was because I’VE OUTGROWN HER. I’m no longer that woman because I have found Hope. I realize now I am not my stuff, my stuff is not my happiness, and my happiness is not found in “more” ANYMORE.
Where ever you’re at in your journey… no matter how much clutter you have that’s trying to take you down, know that you are NOT your clutter. You are NOT your stuff. You are NOT the junk that has filled your house, mind, heart, or soul and no matter what anyone has told you, or what you’ve believed in the past, or the view you have of your house or body today… it’s time you start walking in the truth that God created YOU amazing. He doesn’t want you to be consumed by or with the clutter that has filled your head full of lies, your home full of stuff, your soul full of unworthiness, or your heart full of anger, bitterness, fear, anxiety, depression, or hopeless.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30
In a world of unsatisfied people searching for more, it’s time to find more happiness and peace in less chaos and crap. You don’t have to let your stuff own you, or live an overstuffed life… empty. You can choose to let go of what’s been holding you back and make room for something more with less.
- IF you’re tired of living in the midst of your mess…
- IF the stuff in your life has taken over your home…
- IF you’re struggling to remove the clutter in your life…
- IF you’re sick of searching for things you can’t find…
- IF you’re trying to keep every memory in a box…
- IF you’re afraid to get rid of anything because you might need it someday…
- IF you’re embarrassed to have anyone over…
- IF you feel like a failure…
- IF you’ve been drowning in a sea of chaos, unable to break free from the clutter in your life…
- or IF you want to create a space where everything has a place, purpose, and meaning… then it’s time to get rid of the clutter in your life!
Don’t waste any more time… instead, focus on creating something more meaningful and less chaotic… more simple and less overwhelming… more valuable and less enslaving. Don’t allow yourself to be swallowed up by the world’s view of what’s needed. Your life is too important to waste another moment on worthless pursuits!
Clutter is not your baggage to carry… it’s time to let it go of the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual clutter and walk in freedom! Don’t allow those dreams of a better life to die out… allow them to finally take flight! I know all too well how the lies try to convince you that you’ll never get ahead, never get it all done, and never be any good. It’s time to clear out ALL the clutter in your life, and that includes shutting the door on those lies, and start walking in the promises and strength of the One who created YOU for more… with less!
Before you can get rid of the clutter in your life, you need to recognize how the clutter you’re carrying has affected the spaces in your home, your heart, your mind, and your soul. Be honest with yourself. Spend some time thinking about the following questions…
- What feelings are holding you captive, keeping you from being happy, content, and completely trusting in God?
- What thoughts are keeping you from becoming what we were created to be? What lies do you tell yourself, or have been spoken over you that you’ve believed?
- What beliefs are keeping you from getting closer to God? What rules are keeping you from accepting the grace and freedom Jesus came to give you?
- What stuff is keeping you from turning your house into a home? What areas have the most clutter?
Take a walk through your house and ask yourself, “what has been owning me?” Take a step back from your feelings about the things in each room. Let go of your heart strings for a minute and look at each room as if you’re a stranger looking for the first time. What does the room say about what’s important to its owner? Journal your thoughts. Be honest… you won’t get anywhere lying to yourself. Ask yourself, “does my house reflect what I REALLY treasure?”
If you’re not happy with your answer (or the amount of physical clutter), it’s time to get rid of the stuff taking over your house, heart, mind, & soul! Don’t get discouraged… it’s never too late to do something different! HOWEVER, simply recognizing the problem won’t get rid of it… NOTHING WILL CHANGE unless you DO SOMETHING. Break the task down into bite-size parts by joining the challenge to Turn Your House Into a Home and make your home the place you’ve been dreaming of… one step at a time!
YOUR NEXT STEP… Moving Toward a Clutter-FREE Life