I have found over the years that a lot of people are vaguely aware that something is not quite right, but cannot really put their finger on the actual problem. They find an obvious reason and get stuck trying to fix it, while in reality the problem lies in a completely different area of their life. A lack of order in the household could be the result of a problem with a relationship, and an emotional problem might be based on an overload of things in the living space.
Our mental and physical lives are intertwined to such a level as to make it very difficult to determine such links easily in many cases. Still, those cases at least show up on our radar because we perceive something is wrong in the first place. We might consider an issue to be clear, but any level of trying will not solve the issue, and we need someone to help us determine where the problem lies. This is the realm of counsellors and therapists: when things are seriously wrong, we will ultimately either give up (a sad state of affairs), or we will seek professional help. And if we are lucky, we’ll walk away better off than we were before.
Sometimes, however, there doesn’t seem to be an outside hint at something being wrong, and yet we feel oddly unhappy or not quite sure if things are all right. That could just be an insecurity, but it could also be a very subtle sign that something needs to shift. Mental blocks are like that: they nag at us, but they are not worrying enough to make us take any further steps. We just accept them at face value and move on.
And yet they keep bugging us at a very low level!
What am I talking about? For example, things we like to do in a certain way that takes a lot of time, and then complaining about not having enough time to do other stuff. We realise that we are annoyed, but it’s not enough to actually take steps to change it. And then there are beliefs we hold true even if they don’t quite align with the rest of our experience: we might not personally believe that orange and pink stripes work as a colour combination, but we follow the latest fashion trend anyway, against our own better judgment.
Of course, none of those things appear to be extremely important and these hang-ups are simplistic, but you can probably see how those small niggly things can become annoying to a point of distraction. Low-level nagging can distract our attention, make us less productive and can lead to errors in our activities.
Unlike the big things that become unbearable, these hang-ups tend to stay with us for a much longer time because we never quite realise they are there at all, unless someone points them out to us and we suddenly become aware of them and set out to changing our ways. We simply get used to the subconscious nagging and move on.
The good news is that these tend to be much easier to change than larger issues. It’s a simple thing to start using a pencil than a pen because it’s easier to write with under the specific circumstances, or to stop believing that something is beautiful simply because someone else tells you so.
The bad news is, though, that it takes an outsider to point those things out.
In my practice as a professional declutterer and organiser I have come across a lot of situations where pointing out a particular thing to my client brought about a huge shift in perception, and a whole avalanche of those niggly things suddenly came to light and could be dealt with. And that, in turn, has made it possible to tackle the big stuff because the pegs that held in place those big issues were suddenly coming loose.
Decluttering is not just about shifting bulky items, holding space, helping with organisation and bringing about change. It is often about the little things, and pointing out the glaringly obvious to a flabbergasted client.
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Hi, my name is Tilo Flache. My current mission: help my clients declutter mind and space.
This blog contains pointers for your journey towards a happier living experience.