One day while I was doing laundry, I made an amazing discovery. This is fairly common for me. In fact, I frequently gain great insights while doing the laundry. On this particular day, I was worrying a lot. I often worry…or I did, until I got a vivid mental image of what my worry really was.
And what was it? It was a huge disgusting, monster. And it looked like this:
Yup, this is the Worry monster, it all its hungry glory. And it was begging for my attention and telling me that if I just kept feeding it more worrisome thoughts, then it would leave me alone. But guess what? The more I kept feeding it, the fatter Worry got and the more it wanted to eat!
But by the third load of laundry and a lot of obsessive worrying, I finally figured out a few things:
Don’t feed the monster.
The monster lies.
Thanks to this helpful mental image of a growling monster, I realized that my Worry was feasting on all my precious attention and thoughts. Worry knew that if it was convincing enough, I would give in until I had no more time or attention left. I would become its sole caretaker, and it wouldn’t have to deal with my getting distracted by happy thoughts or by giving time to things that really mattered.
I no longer give into Worry. But there is another monster I will talk about because I am often called to help friends fight him. He is particularly strong and nasty. What makes him so terrible is that he doesn’t just snack on thoughts and attention. His diet also includes physical space, a sense of purpose, a free mind, and even relationships.
You may know him. His name is “Clutter”.
Clutter’s huge and varied appetite means he has to be especially convincing to get fed everything he wants. In fact, he sounds so convincing that even the most well-meaning, logical, and industrious people become completely deceived. They end up waiting on him hand and foot and give him whole rooms and storage units to wallow in. But I am going to reveal some of these lies so you can see them for what they are and take back your time, your attention, and your heart.
Here we go!
When you pick up an item and are deciding whether or not to keep it or not, you will hear the monster speaking to you, trying to convince you to keep the item. He will say things like:
“Keep this because you will need it someday.”
“Keep this because you have the other piece somewhere.”
“Keep this because someone gave it to you.”
“Keep this because you will to finish it.”
“Keep this because you will sell it at a garage sale.”
“Keep this because you might fit into it again someday.”
“Keep this because you will use it later.”
“Keep this because you will fix it.”
And if you are like me, you are shocked right now that all these good sounding reasons are actually very bad reasons. They are lies. But I assure you that sitting in every cluttered home is a clutter monster telling people these exact same lies.
And sadly, the people who listen to him the most are the hardest hit and they don’t even know it. They don’t see how many items they never fix and never use. They don’t realize that they can never find “that piece” and have to go out and buy another one all the time. They never have what they are looking for, and they never get to finish most of their projects. Instead, they are stressed out, discouraged, get into arguments with their family, and have no place to call their sanctuary or to have people over.
But there is hope! You can learn to see Clutter for what he is and kick him straight out the door. It will not be easy facing up to him, but you can do it. You can start today by refusing to feed him any more of your space, your thoughts, or your attention.
At first, you may be terrified about contradicting him. This is why you must fight back even if part of you still believes him. This may cause a mental conflict and you might feel nauseous, scared, sad, or angry. Your mind may feel bombarded by the monster yelling to be fed.
At this point that you must simply ignore him. Don’t even talk with him because he is too good at winning for you to start reasoning with him. Just straight up ignore him. Whenever you pick something up and he tells you one of his fake reasons to keep it, just let your heart be assured that the item really does need to go. Just start getting those things out of your home and your life.
You could even get very fierce and join forces with a supportive friend, especially if you are feeling very badly at first or if you have many heavy things to move. I also like to wear comfortable shoes, stay nourished, or put on some happy music. When I begin to feel anxious, I take deep breaths or drink some water.
I can promise you that after all the difficult choices you make about your Clutter, he will stop knocking at your door all the time. He will figure out that no matter how much he tries to convince you to keep something that you shouldn’t, you will ignore him. He may even decide to stay away permanently, since your home will be too nice, too clean, and too happy for him to stay.
So let’s do this! Let’s get rid of your Clutter! Start anytime by filling up just one box a day of unnecessary items! Put the box in the front seat of your car when it is full and then drop it off in a donation box the next time you are out. You can have a clean and happy home. And if you need a little extra boost and live near me, give me a call and I will come over and beat Clutter with you! Two is almost always better than one.
Happy Clutter Busting!