When the mountain of paperwork and other clutter on her desk approached Mt. Everest proportions, Amelia would “organize” by sweeping it all into paper bags and boxes that she stashed in closets and under tables.
George didn’t even bother stashing his clutter. The obstacle course from his front door to the rest of the house meant friends and others generally just didn’t come over, and he grew increasingly isolated.
Kathleen kept her house pretty clutter-free, but her garage was loaded top to bottom with boxes of things she hadn’t used or read in years, including a box marked “RIP” filled with “mementos” of her divorce 20 years earlier.
Fortunately, all three individuals managed to regain control of the clutter in their lives by enlisting a few friends to help and by examining what drove their clutter habit. And one by one, miraculous things began to happen:
Sorting through papers, Amelia ran across the name of a colleague whom she hadn’t spoken with for years. The following week, the colleague called out of the blue and offered her an irresistible business opportunity. George fell in love within a few months of clearing his clutter and later married. Kathleen found herself suddenly presented with numerous opportunities for international travel, something she hadn’t done in several decades.
Miraculous or not, clearing away physical clutter often has the unexpected effect of clearing away emotional and mental clutter, too, that may be holding us back from our heart’s desire.
In fact, organizing your life is one of the kindest acts of self-care there is.
Think about it: When things are organized, we spend less time looking for things, set a good example for our children, reduce overwhelm, do more with less time, make better use of our talents and skills, increase our self-confidence, feel more in control and make more/spend less money. We feel less stressed and it is easier to be more productive and therefore have more sense of accomplishment and satisfaction in life.
What about mental clutter? Are you hanging onto old philosophies and ways of doing things that no longer serve you? Are you hanging onto techniques or processes you learned but do not get a productive outcome from? If you spent a lot of money and time learning something it may be hard to admit it is not working for you. Let go of needing to be right and look for the truth.
Are you stuck in blame for what someone did to you? Try taking responsibility for whatever happens in your life. If you take responsibility then you are in control to change anything you need to change. Take your regrets and resentments and use them to see how you can use them to transform yourself. Then you will be able to let go and start to clear your mind.
More peace of mind allows the space for the Grace of God to come in. When we are more connected to our higher self and the Grace of God we can see things differently. That clearer inner world will support a clearer outer world.
So let’s take a look at the outer world clutter.
There is no shortage of ideas and books on how to organize. We need to find the solutions that work for our lives. To keep clutter from coming back we should arrive some kind of a sustaining system. Some self-introspection will help us understand and work with or around our psychological obstacles to a clutter-free environment. Do you see yourself in any of these obstacles?
Need for accumulation. People who need to keep a lot of everything around them may be filled with anxiety and dread at the idea of getting rid of things. They often have fear from the future. They worry they will need the items again and not have the resources or ability to obtain them.
Unclear goals and priorities. Organizing is about defining what’s important and setting up a system to reflect that. Do you know who you are? What is important in your life? Are you weighed down by stuff that is not supporting who you are or want to be?
Fear of success/fear of failure. Disorganization may be a convenient way to hold back. Disorganization can keep you busy but not productive. Then you can tell yourself you are working hard even though you are not getting outcome.
Need to retreat. Clutter can be a protective shield to keep others at a safe distance. It can put you in a state of inactivity and blame. I cannot go forward with this or that because there is no room.
Fear of losing creativity. A common myth is that creative, “right-brained” people need to work in chaos to produce high-quality work. That is reverse engineering. The process of creativity can disrupt the normal pattern or way of doing things, which may look like chaos. Then it leads to an end result that has structure. Chaos does not need to be there for creativity.
Need for distraction. Clutter can provide a convenient excuse to avoid uncomfortable issues or unwanted tasks. It promotes and sustains procrastination. It keeps us from facing the tasks or issues we need to face.
Sentimental attachment. Infusing objects with personality, emotions and meaning usually results in living with an enormous amount of clutter.
Do you find yourself often making these kinds of comments?
- “That vase will be sad if I throw it out.”
- “I got that on my trip to… “
- “But so and so gave that to me”
- “That belonged to my Grandma”
- “That was my son’s blankie”
Need for perfection. Often, people won’t deal with clutter until it can be done perfectly. Translation: It will never get done.
Identifying these obstacles can help us create an effective, lasting solution to clutter and free us from energy-sapping self-criticism.
How do you determine what to keep or not keep? “Is this useful for me and my life?” “ Will this help me attain the outcome I want for my life?”
Something might be useful for someone else but is it useful for you? For example, a medication one person takes could cause a lot of harm to their friend.
Letting go of items no longer useful to you can bring order, alignment and a sense of freedom. You can begin to maximize space, efficiency and time.
To be really effective at de-cluttering requires a change from the inside out. You must change your habits, your character. People of a lower consciousness naturally, without effort, attract to themselves things of less value and use. They have a hard time letting go as they worry they may need it someday. People with higher consciousness attract things of more value and use. They have the confidence to rely on themselves and not something outside. There is a line in the movie The Stand by Stephen King “You must go with nothing but the clothes on your back”. That is confidence, that is independence, that is freedom, that is trust in God and yourself.
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