The Root Causes of Clutter May Be Surprising

The first step in getting clutter under control is to discover why you have clutter to begin with.

By uncovering the root cause you will create an awareness that will help you clear and control your clutter for the long term. Remember clutter isn’t only a physical manifestation, clutter can also be invisible. The clutter in your head and heart is just as damaging, if not more so, than the material clutter. But so very often the physical clutter is caused by what’s happening in our head and heart, so self analysis is really critical.

Where does your clutter come from? Does it stem from:

Overwhelm? This is more than natural. If you’ve got a lot of clutter just trying to figure out where to start can feel like a huge challenge.To help you overcome the overwhelm remember that you don’t have tackle it all at once. Start small and make a decision about just one item. Then move on to another. Or tackle a single drawer or cabinet. To make real progress, try tackling clutter for just ten minutes a day with a Low Hanging Fruit Harvest.

Over-commitment? Are you a people pleaser and unable to say no? Or maybe you don’t know how to say no. Learning to set boundaries is the best gift you can give yourself. Remember, your time is as valuable as anyone’s.

Physical disability? Have you been injured or do you suffer from a chronic illness? Here you really need to cut yourself as much slack as you can. Then get honest with yourself and ask yourself if you need to seek outside assistance. If you are surrounded by clutter and it’s weighing on you emotionally, you can bet that it’s also impacting your ability to heal.

Fear? Are afraid to let go of what was? Are you holding onto the past (perhaps even living there) by holding onto ‘stuff’? Are you afraid that you’ll lose memories of someone or something if you get rid of associated physical objects? Or are you fearful that you’ll regret letting go of something and then need it again? Fear can be overcome when you choose freedom. Fear can’t thrive in an environment that puts freedom first. The fear may not go away altogether, but its power will be seriously diminished

Negative past experiences? Have you made mistakes in the past? Are they still haunting you? Try reframing your thinking and instead allowing them to scare you, learn from them. They may not be what they seem. For example, people are fearful to let go of things because they’re afraid they’ll find a use for it right away and regret it. But the fact is that’s highly unlikely. It’s only because we’re focused on finding a use for it that we do.

Mental or emotional overload? Are you drained because your mind is being stretched beyond its limits? Maybe you have a work load that is extremely burdensome or perhaps you are dealing with a family crisis. If this is you, give yourself space to move through and deal with the situation. One way to manage clutter during this period is by going on an acquisition hiatus. At the very least it will stem the inflow of stuff into your space, which means clutter will have a lesser chance to take hold.

Resistance? Do you just not want to take care of things right now? Maybe you are caught in a situation where you are being pressured to get organized so you avoid action on purpose, no matter the cost. Maybe you are just a rebel at heart. Rebels can harness their own power when they stop rebelling against outside pressure, and start rebelling against the status quo. It’s a tricky way to refocus energy and use a natural tendency to create change.

Compulsive shopping and /or accumulation? Are you buying, taking or accepting more than you can use and need? Do you fear lack? Or maybe all that shopping and accumulating fills an emotional need. Shopping is often used to avoid dealing with uncomfortable situations – it’s an effective but expensive distraction. Here, identification is half the battle, so take time to reflect on the reward you get from accumulation.

Lack of time? This is usually a side affect of all the other reasons. Lack of time is almost always attached to another issue. It’s also possible you may not know how to make the most of your time, so it seems like you have no time. Luckily, when you get organized and reduce clutter, you free up significant time.

Change in life circumstances? Has your life changed in some significant way? It’s altogether possible that the change is why you have clutter. More often than not we don’t take time to address what the changes mean – we keep doing what we’ve always done. If you’ve had a child, downsized, gotten a time consuming job then clutter could be side effect. A simple evaluation can reveal what you need to do in order to remedy the situation.

Procrastination? Again this issue can stem from any of the others. But frequently it comes from a perfectionist mindset, or what some call FOMU (Fear of Messing Up). A clue that this is you: You spend loads of time looking for solutions to your clutter challenges without ever committing to any because you’re fearful you’ll make a mistake, or you worry there is something even better just around the corner. The quest to be perfect can keep the best of us stuck for a very long time. It’s better to act and learn from the experience than continually put it off. One way to set yourself free is by focusing first on function, and simply giving yourself permission to try with out any expectation of greatness.

Fear of missing out (aka, FOMO)? Holding on to things that have information attached in some way, like that pile of year old magazines, can present a challenge if you feel you might be missing out on something critical. The same holds true for electronic clutter. It’s hard to delete newsletters if you fear that there’s a nugget of gold you may be missing.

It’s also possible this is a clutter cause if you are spending too much time on social media. If you are worried you’ll miss out on the latest updates from your friends and feel out of the loop, you aren’t alone. But if that feeling isn’t managed, it can turn into a huge time suck.

Awareness is the first step in creating a clutter free life. Are any of these root causes yours? Once you identify the cause of clutter in your life, you can work to keep clutter from reappearing in your home. Keep in mind there may be multiple causes, often that is the case. I know it would be easier if there were only one, but take heart, the multiple causes are usually linked in some manner. By addressing one you will most likely will be addressing them all. The domino effect is will take place.

Now the big question is….are you ready to create change? If you are you can started for free with the complimentary e-course that will help you declutter, simplify and organize your life. You will be guided step-by-step through the whole decluttering and organizing process, and you’ll even get support with our private group page, where you can ask questions and find inspiration.







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