When I see an overstuffed space, I now recognize it for what it really is.
This is fear. You might be afraid of dogs, your father, your mother, your kids, the boogie man, rabbits for all I know. It might be a terror over making a bad decision. Most likely it is a lack of something…
Fear is an emotion that has 3 possible physical manifestations, freeze, fight or flight. When the clutter starts to pile up many of my clients demonstrate all three in succession.
They take flight and go to the store so they don’t have to look at the mess. They may even buy something to solve the problem, to fight the problem. Then they get back home and try to fight back with the new thing. When it doesn’t fit, work for that purpose, or requires them to actually develop a habit in order for it to work, they stuff everything in a drawer, or closet, basically running away again.
The desire to control their environment, to feel safe has backfired.
When asked either by themselves or by another person to take care of the mess, they freeze, not wanting to make another bad decision or not knowing where to start. Even if they are able to start, there isn’t a clear plan for what to do when a difficult decision needs to be made so they abandon the project as soon as that comes up.
Now you feel a little bit safe in the fact that nothing has changed so the bad decision, the decision to not deal with it seems like it was correct. Except that you haven’t made any space so you can’t let the stuff you are lacking in. So, this is actually the perfect time to try the opposite decision, just to see what happens.
No, really, what is the worst that can happen if you get rid of something? I’m not asking you to donate your children, just a few pieces of plastic or paper, or maybe ceramic.
If you don’t let go of some stuff, nothing will change. And that is what you are avoiding in the first place. Maybe that holiday sweater, not the one you wear to the bad sweater party, the other one is in the way of you getting a raise, or writing the Great American Novel, or finding the perfect for you person.
By accumulating all these things you have accidentally created a space to hide that is less safe because it doesn’t allow anyone in. It doesn’t allow the thing that is missing in either. And it doesn’t let any healing potential in.
Applying this control over your environment, a desire to create a nurturing space to refresh and recharge yourself, you also become the creator of your own story. Be brave and determine what you want, not what others want for you. Creating that space is the fastest way to achieve true control, and safety and happiness.