3 TYPES OF CLUTTER YOU NEED TO CLEAR TO LIVE LIFE LIGHTLY

It's not just physical clutter that clogs up our minds and lives.  If you're feeling overwhelmed there might be other clutter that needs clearing.

DE-CLUTTER TO LIGHTEN YOUR LOAD

Have you noticed that stuff can weigh you down? We can be surrounded by so much physical clutter that it makes everything a little bit harder to get on with. Or it can be that our heads are so full of clutter we struggle to think clearly and make decisions. Or it can be emotional clutter where we carry past hurts and unforgiveness around with us, and feel like we're constantly living under a dark cloud.

Today I'd like to clear a little of that clutter so that we can cast off some of that excess baggage and begin to truly Live Lightly.....

PHYSICAL CLUTTER

Why do we feel the need to fill our homes with so much stuff? It's something that's become the new normal over the last few decades. I look back to my childhood and I don't remember houses full of multiple TV's, playrooms overflowing with toys, cupboards filled to bursting point, clothing stuffed into wardrobes, and garages so full of the overflow that cars have to be parked outside because they don't fit. Our society has become more affluent and it seems like the more money people earn, the more possessions they feel the need to acquire..

I'm not sure if this proliferation is due to keeping up with the Joneses, or trying to emulate what we see on television and on social media, or whether there's an emptiness inside that feels fuller if it gets fed with new purchases. Surrounding yourself with so many possessions that they cover every spare countertop and tabletop must begin to feel a little overwhelming, and when you start buying extra storage space to hold your stuff, it probably means you have too much stuff.

I've found that the less stuff I own, the less my stuff owns me

Physical clutter weighs us down - we don't need to live like monks, but maybe we need to ask ourselves why we keep buying more when we already have enough. Perhaps it's time to clear a little physical space to give ourselves some breathing room.

MENTAL CLUTTER

This is a different type of clutter - it involves over-thinking, over-worrying, dwelling on the 'what-ifs' and the 'would, should, coulds' and the worst case scenarios of life. When our minds are constantly playing scenes of disappointments and hurts, or future events that may not even happen, we begin to feel stressed and weary. Life is so much harder to process when there's a stream of past, present, and future thoughts whirling around like a merry-go-round inside our heads.

I don't surround myself with physical clutter, but I've been prone to mental clutter all my life. It's only in the last decade or so that I've cleared some of those excessive ruminations and worrying out, and replaced them with a calmer mindset. I think we're all prone to worrying, or planning, or thinking a lot when something big is on the horizon - or when we're in the middle of an upheaval, and that's perfectly normal......but we can all learn to let go of the small stuff.

Sometimes the best thing you do is not think, not wonder, not imagine, not obsess. Just breathe, and have faith that everything will work out for the best.

Reducing the amount of time we spend dwelling on the little niggles, practicing gratitude, and not trying to control outcomes that are beyond us, all leads to a clearer mind and the ability to focus on what really matters.

EMOTIONAL CLUTTER

When you're feeling burdened or upset for no particular reason, it's often due to the clutter of emotions that have been held onto for too long. Dwelling on past hurts, re-hashing old conversations or events, carrying unforgiveness and bitterness in our hearts, and embroiling ourselves in other people's issues all lead to emotional overload.

Getting back on an even keel takes a conscious effort to move on from upsets of the past, learning to forgive those who have deliberately or unintentionally hurt us, and letting go of the negative feelings that we often hold onto to protect ourselves from future pain. One of the greatest services we can give ourselves is to forgive and to move on - we don't have to forget what was done, but we need to stop holding onto it and re-hashing it over and over again. Allowing ourselves to be free from churning up past pain, and choosing to put it behind us lets our emotions rest and our hearts settle.

Today I decided to forgive you. Not because you apologized, or because you acknowledged the pain that you caused me, but because my soul deserves peace.

Life becomes lighter when you're emotions are calmer, when you've freed up room in your heart for joy and happiness, and when you take responsibility for choosing where you want to invest your emotional energy.

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Do you have clutter anywhere that needs to be cleared? Do you buy for the sake of buying, are you over-thinking things, or are you holding onto unforgiveness? Or are you past all of that and living free and clear?

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It's not just physical clutter that clogs up our minds and lives.  If you're feeling overwhelmed there might be other clutter that needs clearing.

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Cresting the Hill - a blog for Midlife (Middle Aged / 50+) women who want to thrive
It's not just physical clutter that clogs up our minds and lives.  If you're feeling overwhelmed there might be other clutter that needs clearing.

32 comments

  1. Hi, Leanne - You are so right about the different types of clutter and how they all weigh us down. Physical decluttering is an on-going struggle for me (especially if my husband gets involved). :D Still, I persevere. Great post! :D

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    1. Hi Donna - physical stuff seems to manifest magically - we are fairly minimal, and yet there still seems to be a build-up over time. I'm grateful that buying stuff doesn't trigger an endorphine rush for me - unless it's something beautiful or necessary - then I get a bit of a boost. :)

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  2. I am always trying to clear the clutter-- especially the physical clutter!

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    1. I think it's part of our culture these days to have a lot of 'stuff' and even for minimalists like me, there's still the mental and emotional clutter - it's never ending!

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  3. Leanne, thank you for another lovely post. It's as if you're reading my mind. I still have physical clutter, but I no longer buy things for the sake of buying or to fill the emptiness as I realized that things(clutter) added to my stress and made cleaning so much more difficult, and I began resenting all those things. If I feel down or overwhelmed, I prefer to go for a walk in nature. I still have mental and emotional clutter especially after the death of my loved one, but I am improving with the help of Mindfulness meditation and Self-Compassion. Nobody is totally free of mental and emotional clutter as we're complex human being doing the best we can but I believe there's always room for improvement, done with compassion and grace. So happy for your blog. 💗

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    1. Hi Yvonne - you make some very wise points in your comments - and I agree that we'll never be completely free from any of these three types of clutter. We often hold onto things and thoughts and feelings because "we're complex humans" and we accumulate them for the same reason. I think as we feel comfortable and strong enough in ourselves to let things go over time, we build a world that feels more calm. And yes, self-compassion is vital - especially after the loss of someone you loved so much - grief takes time and you need to be kind to yourself as you move through it. Thank you so much for visiting here so faithfully and always having something encouraging to share. x

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  4. I can relate to this post. I only buy what I need so I am OK in that respect but I do keep some possessions because I'm a too sentimental, so I could do with being ruthless and reducing the clutter. I have improved as I got rid of a lot of things last year and seeing clear surfaces spurs me on. The mental clutter has improved too.

    I think keeping up with the Jones’, TV and social media contribute to people having too many possessions / a certain lifestyle. I live in England, and soaps / TV shows in general present a certain life style that someone I know does imitate. They feel they contribute to the economy, which is interesting, but that is a totally different discussion. Personally, I feel that less is more and now I would rather have fewer possessions and more experiences.

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    1. Hi Elizabeth - I find that our world seems to promote greediness and the idea that we can fill any empty spaces (physically and inwardly) by buying more. I love uncluttered surfaces but I would never advocate getting rid of everything - we need some sentimental favourites that have happy memories attached to them, but not the "stuff" that we take on out of obligation. Every time I donate some excess I feel lighter, and now I buy very little - and I'm trying to source more from thrift shops (some of their clothes are amazingly good value). I'm also working on not worrying so much or churning things over and over - that just fills my mind with unnecessary stress and achieves absolutely nothing. We're all works in progress aren't we? :)

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  5. If anyone was to look in my brain it would be like an episode of Hoarders (is there such a reality show? I feel as though there probably is). Sometimes it's hard to move in there (my brain, that is) without piles of stuff toppling down.

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    1. Ohhhh I can so relate to that! I'm finally getting better at letting things go from my thoughts. I feel like life has cleared up some of my mind rooms by settling or resolving issues, and the rest I'm getting better at sorting or discarding. I love it when I realize that there's so much less churning in the back of my mind these days - hopefully you'll arrive there too in the not too distant future. x

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  6. Hi Leanne, what is a fabulous post. I have been working on decluttering my life since I tetired and found your post very inspiring. I am sure I will be on the decluttering path for the rest of my life...it becomes quite addictive because it feels so great!!

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    1. Hi Gabriel - I think slow and steady wins the race, one room, one cupboard, one worry, one forgiveness at a time and we eventually find ourselves in a much more peaceful place. I love having clear space around me and within me - it makes my heart happy - as I'm sure you're discovering too.

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  7. Decluttering isn't only the physical things we have in our life as you so rightly point out Leanne!

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    1. Yes, physical clutter has never been much of an issue for me Deb, but the mental and emotional clutter has been something I've been cleaning up for the last decade (and there's always more to sort and toss out).

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  8. We can have so much clutter, Leanne and our physical, mind and spiritual being are so closely tied. I suppose the mental clutter is the one that gets me. I also read recently that Marie Kondo has decided that her philosophy of decluttering isn't maybe the way to go, so we can all put back those things that didn't bring us Joy! LOL :)

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    1. I saw that article about Marie too - apparently having 3 kids ruined her very minimal life (they tend to do that 😂) And yes, the clearer my head is, and the clearer my heart is, the easier it is to process life and feel calm. x

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  9. Hi Leanne, clutter is not my friend. I find that if my physical surrounds are cluttered, then my mind is cluttered too. My place definitely needs another declutter that's for sure. With four of us living in this house, it soon builds up. I also suffer with a cluttered mind at times, regardless of what physical clutter is around me. It's when I have too much on, too much to do or worry about. I'm suffering with a cluttered and overwhelmed mind at the moment. Bit by bit I a working my way through all that things that need to be done and I'm doing my yoga, pilates and meditation so that all helps. But overall - yes I agree with you - too much clutter is not good!

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    1. Hi Min - I'm a huge fan of an uncluttered environment - too much physical clutter stifles me. I'm also getting better at choosing what to hold in my head and heart and letting go of stuff that I have no control over. It took me 60 years to get here, but it's good to be moving forward with more serenity these days.

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  10. Hi Leanne. As far as physical clutter goes, we did our share of collecting things, when we were younger and newly married. I suppose we watched our parents collect things and we thought that was the thing to do. also, I was under the impression that accumulating stuff would make me happy. That brings me to the more recent past where over the last few years, I've done some real emotional de-cluttering. It wasn't easy. It took a lot of sorting through the pain of my family issues. I must say, it took some sorting, but I feel like I've come through it with flying colors. Now, I'm able to deal with other family issues, with my kids, much better. This post for me, was validating and reassuring. Thank you. Sharing to FB. xx Christina Daggett

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    1. Hi Christina - I think decluttering the family baggage is so free-ing. We finally get to close a door on stuff that we don't want to participate in, and that frees us up to invest our time and energy into what we truly value. I came to the conclusion some time ago that "family" doesn't always have to include all our relatives - some are better left to their own devices while we get on with living a happy life. x

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  11. You are spot-on with these descriptions of clutter, Leanne. We do have some physical clutter to clear out in our home. Much of it belongs to my husband, and he has a hard time letting things go. We definitely want to get through it though, so our children don't have to deal with it when we are gone. Also it stresses me out. ðŸĪŠ As far as mental clutter, writing things out seems to help me, as well as regular meditation and physical activity. Currently, I feel pretty good about emotional clutter, though I have struggled with it in the past. Yesterday, I read a challenge to write a letter to someone letting them know you forgive them. (you may or may not choose to mail it.) I'm pleased to report that I truly could not think of anyone I need to forgive at this point in time. Maybe myself. That's always a work in progress.

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    1. Hi Christie - forgiveness is such a joy isn't it? You get to let go of all the resentment and the hurt and move forward with grace. I like that I hold no animosity towards anyone, and I'm happy to let people leave my life who want to be elsewhere. Even the people who've hurt me and never owned it, they just don't matter any more. It's such a good feeling to not harbour bitterness and anger - that's clutter nobody needs.

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  12. What an interesting post which your commenters found plenty to agree with too. As 52 years married people, who have just moved house for 13th time, we have mostly decluttered in the past 3 moves because we stopped being active/caring grandparents of little people. We used to have them at our house, from baby hood to school start. We also kept items such as beds for sleepovers. All of this went some time ago when visits to the coast were not happening, and in our ageing years we do not want sleepovers any more. We are now in smaller house with much of our familiar things around us but it feels good. We are happier for doing what we did. Decluttering the mind takes far more discipline and skill...working on it. Great to see you link up your post for this week’s Wednesday’s Words and Pics link up at Denyse Whelan Blogs. Thank you for being part of the WWandP community. Denyse.

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    1. Hi Denyse - we're gradually decluttering the grandgirl stuff too. Our daughter and SIL aren't having children, so there'll be no more babies in our house. I sold off all the baby toys and toddler paraphernalia on Marketplace and that cleared room for the next phase. Once the family no longer visits, we'll downsize and get rid of a couple of bedrooms' worth of stuff - we won't be needing it in our 80's. :)

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  13. Hi Leanne. I’m anti clutter these days! In my previous life I would have been considered the clutter queen. When I think back to the days that I had baskets of dried flowers everywhere I shudder. I first decluttered years ago but I’ve found that it’s necessary to keep on top of it as clutter seems to inch its way in. I love the quote about forgiveness.

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    1. Hi Jen - I've never been much of a person who needs to fill my house with stuff, but I've several friends who started off really cluttered and/or really messy, and as their nest emptied, they've discovered the joy of clear spaces - I think we all feel lighter when we don't have so much to clean and organize.

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  14. Decluttering, although sometimes challenging, provides such a positive feeling after. Nice post, Leanne.

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    1. Hi Shari - there's a lot more to de-cluttering than just throwing out a few odds and ends - the deeper we go, the more challenging it is - especially inner de-cluttering.

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  15. My sister has some serious health issues and she seems to have hooked the emotions onto decluttering (but not doing it because she doesn't know where to start but not accepting help or resisiting help and just talking about it). I think the emotional clutter and the physical clutter are very much entwined (when really it's understandably all related to her physical 'clutter') but I love the way you've clearly put it. Will send this on to her. Really great post #WWandP

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    1. Hi Lydia - I hope your sister finds her way through it all. My friend's sister was in a similar situation - her husband had major health issues that led to financial issues too - she surrounded herself with clutter because it felt safer and she felt less exposed. She knew she needed to get rid of it, but just couldn't let go. Our minds play some serious games with us at times - and we just need to do things in very small incriments when we're under a lot of stress.

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  16. Hi Leanne, Thank you for your weekend coffee share. I stop buying new things unless it's necessary and continue to reduce my physical possessions as they reach their end of life. I switch to digital format on a number of things, too (e.g. books, photos).

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    1. Hi Natalie - we're the same, and also we just don't like having a lot of "stuff" taking up physical space in our home. I'm also finding that the less mental stuff I dwell on, the less cluttered my mind is too.

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