Clutter usually creeps in without us realising that this is happening: things accumulate in odd places, storage rooms miraculously fill up with things, the bookshelf develops a second layer, followed by books lying sideways on top of others, free space becomes a rare commodity… does any of this sound familiar? I bet it does, at least to some degree. Because clutter is not something that hits us like a ton of bricks, we gradually become used to it and accept it as “the way things are” rather than question the fact that we cannot easily find that book we are looking for or have to dig through a storage cupboard full of junk in order to find that pair of rubber boots.
And here is the strange thing: because it’s all a gradual process we never actually question it, until we realise that there is something going on. Usually, that question comes up when we are forced to take a good look at everything we own, for example when we are packing for a move, or stressed out because the search for things is taking too long, too often. Or maybe we have lost something we are sure is there somewhere and that leads to the question “why do I have all those things?” It’s like dust settling on your furniture: at first it’s just a thin layer but there comes a time when we suddenly realise there are thick layers of dust everywhere we rarely look.
The next step could be either that you move on and forget about the whole thing, or you start actively questioning the wisdom of keeping all these things that clearly only live in the storage space. From there on you might be on the way to deciding that there are things you do not need, you do not use, you do not like, or you are not even aware you still had them. Once that realisation is there, you are more likely to take a proper decision to remove certain items and you will have taken the first steps towards a clutter-free home. Beware, this is only the very first step. The will to apply changes will grow very gradually, but it takes time, effort and a lot of soul-searching until you can approach decluttering in a big way.
Only when you have decided on your own terms that things need to change, you will be able to apply these changes, slowly at first, then with increasing ease. Because you have removed things on your own accord, you will see the emptied space as a victory rather than a defeat, and because your view has changed, you are happy with the space you have created rather than being stuck with a vague idea of loss.
By now, you probably understand why “the will to change” is such an important concept. Without it, any effort to declutter is pretty much doomed to be temporary, because removing anything will seem to be a negative thing. And the more you remove, the more you will resent the act of removing.
If, however, you have taken a positive decision to make a change and you have acted on it, this will be a positive development for you, with an accumulating positive feedback loop. This is where decluttering really takes off and magic happens. If you manage to find your way into this loop, there’s no knowing where your decluttering journey will take you!
If you have enjoyed reading this, you may find these other articles interesting:
Ask the ClutterMeister
Ideas to help clear away the mess in our homes and in our minds.
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Hi, my name is Tilo Flache and it is my mission to help my clients declutter mind and space. This blog contains pointers for your journey towards a happier living experience.