When you look at the clutter in your home, does it feel like you need an excavator to find the calm beneath the chaos? Do you try again and again to implement sustainable organizational systems without any success? Does the reason for your clutter always seem to come down to too little time or not enough space?
If so, the time has come to look at the clutter beneath the clutterthe fears, doubts, and energy drains that are the true culprits of the muck.
In the follow-up to her Wall Street Journal best-selling book What Your Clutter Is Trying to Tell You, decluttering expert, lifestyle designer, and coach Kerri Richardson helps you to:
Whether you are tackling perfectionism, procrastination, or toxic relationships, Richardson's straightforward advice will help you to finally clear those stubborn stacks, piles, and boxes for a clean start, with a wealth of space for your freedom and happiness to grow.
|Publisher:||Hay House Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.60(d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
When Melissa and I decided to live in a tiny house (yes, like the ones you see on reality television), I never anticipated the challenges that would come with such a significant downsize. I knew we’d have some tough decisions to make, but I couldn’t have predicted the deep, emotional work that would be involved. However, it was that work that opened up our lives in the best way possible.
At the time of writing this, we have been living in our tiny house for 14 months. It’s a comfortable 28 by 8.5 feet, about 240 square feet in total. It’s a modern-style home on wheels that has everything we need: a fully functioning kitchen, living room/office, and bedroom loft. Our bathroom has a big, beautiful shower that might just be my favorite part of the whole place. It’s small (tiny, if you will), but it’s home.
Downsizing to this lifestyle was a four-year process. Our first house was 2,000 square feet and came with more rooms and storage space than we ever needed. After selling that, we moved into a 750-square-foot apartment, and then into one that was a mere 500 square feet, before settling into the tiny house. With each round of paring down, the task became more challenging. I found myself facing difficult decisions about what I should or shouldn’t keep.
Do I keep my high school yearbook? How many spatulas do I really need? I love this dress that I wore to my niece’s wedding, but will I ever wear it again? What about this waffle iron my mother-in-law gave me in honor of the special breakfast we had the morning after my wedding? Despite thinking we had finished simplifying, there were still many possibly superfluous things.
Why were some things so easy to let go of, while others caused me to spiral into speculation, question my character, or doubt my intuition? What was so important about all of this stuff? As I asked myself these questions, I realized that my struggle in deciding had little to do with the items themselves and everything to do with the meaning I had assigned to them.
Of course I should keep my yearbooks! That’s something everyone hangs on to.
I’m an adult. Aren’t I supposed to have at least a few spatulas? Just having one seems desperate and lacking.
I can’t fit into that spring dress right now, but it sure is pretty. Remember how much thinner I was then?
My mother-in-law would be disappointed if I got rid of the waffle iron. She was so excited to give it to us. I don’t want her to think I’m ungrateful.
It sounds silly now, but at the time, this is what was running through my head. I realized just how often our beliefs get in the way of decluttering. So I decided to take a new approach. Any time I wrestled with the decision to keep or donate, I worked on cleaning up my thoughts first. I’d reassure my younger self (she’s the one who created these beliefs, after all) that nothing catastrophic would happen if I chose to do things my way.
It’s okay to get rid of something that other people would keep.
I can thrive in abundance even with just one spatula.
I don’t have to fit back into that dress again to be worthy.
My mother-in-law’s love for me isn’t conditional.
I realized it’s also okay to keep things others would get rid of. After all, only I get to decide what is clutter to me and what isn’t.
I had been convincing myself of those old ideas for years, so I knew it would take time to unlearn them. And, like going through everything I owned, it was a process. It took a lot of work. And then something cool happened.
I realized I wasn’t just reframing my perspective about things. I was also learning about myself and how my mindset gets in the way as I pursue my dreams and goals. What a revelation to have while clearing clutter!
It wasn’t easy to accept. Growing up, I learned that how you do anything is how you do everything. If I’m talking myself into keeping an extra spatula for fear of looking pathetic, then there’s a good chance I’m doing (or not doing) something else for the same reason.
If I’m worried that donating a gift from my mother-in-law will change her opinion of me, I probably consider my other relationships transactional. That’s certainly not ideal, but how can I change it? By using my clutter as a tool for transformation.
As you decide what to keep in your life and what to remove, whether it’s thoughts, things, or people, pay attention to the stories you tell yourself. By doing so, you gain incredible insight into your belief system. It’s this insight that will help you clear the real clutter and make moves on blazing the trail to your BHAG—your big, hairy, audacious goal.
Our best life didn’t start the moment we moved into the tiny house, and the learning didn’t stop either. It just showed itself differently. For example, I knew we’d have to get creative with storage and figure out how to do the galley kitchen dance, but I didn’t think about just how “in your face” unfinished projects would be. Because clutter is amplified in such a small space, we quickly learned how to deal with all kinds of messes.
Although our kitchen is bigger than that of most Manhattan studios, the limited space doesn’t allow for a full sink of dishes or ingredients left strewn about the counter. When I make a meal, I put things away as I prepare the dish instead of leaving them all out until the end. Melissa cleans up right after dinner because if there are dirty dishes in the house, we can see them from any angle. In 240 square feet, there’s no such thing as “out of sight, out of mind.”
These tight quarters also prompt quicker cleanup of communication-based messes. If Melissa and I are snapping at each other, there’s nowhere to go without physically leaving the house. That’s still an option if one of us needs space to process, but we’ve been much more mindful of communicating cleanly and clearly. Instead of making a snide comment like, “I guess I’ll clean the cat box again,” I speak to the source. “Can we take turns cleaning the cat box? I’m starting to feel resentful because I seem to be doing it a lot.”
This requires an incredible amount of vulnerability because we go right to the heart of the matter instead of wasting time bitching about the superficial issue. We’re certainly not perfect. We still gripe on occasion, but it’s much shorter-lived. It has to be, since we’re in such close quarters. That said, cleaning up messes sooner rather than later is a good practice in any home or any type of relationship.
With less, you feel lighter. Brighter. More alive. That isn’t limited to physical clutter, either. Even if you have the shelves and drawers necessary for a lot of stuff, it doesn’t mean you have the energetic capacity or mental bandwidth to manage it all. Watch out for the mindset that says, “have space, must fill,” whether that applies to your home, head, or heart. It’s okay to have space. I should know—even in my tiny home, I have some!
Despite us paring way down, Melissa and I have made plenty more donation runs since moving in. I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I love to get rid of the things I no longer need, love, or use. After all, if my space or energy is feeling crowded, it leaves me no space to energetically expand into.
Once I’ve created that space, I then do my best to be mindful of allowing only the thoughts, things, or people deserving of occupying a precious slot in my life. My space is sacred and not everyone or everything is worthy of being in it, so instead of buying things unconsciously or tolerating an unhealthy friendship, I do my best to evaluate what my life is comprised of. I encourage you to do the same. Because chances are, if you’ve read this far, you’ve got clutter too. Everyone does.
As if you don’t feel overwhelmed enough, I’ve now made you think about even more clutter in your life! But this is good, I promise. I want you to see all obstacles as clutter so you know you can clear them. But I get it. You’re aggravated. You’re fed up. You’re overwhelmed. Your clutter is draining you, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. You feel frozen and want so desperately to break free, but you can’t seem to get yourself to do it. Why is that? Why is it so difficult to clean up your clutter?
Here’s the thing: you’re doing it all wrong. Thinking you simply need to set aside a weekend and knock it all out assumes that the only thing getting in your way is a lack of time. There’s much more to it than that. And honestly, that’s good news. Any failed attempts up until this point are not because you’re lazy, messy, or unmotivated. It’s because you’re looking at the wrong kind of clutter. There’s clutter under that clutter. There are fears, doubts, blocking beliefs, and more that are the true culprits in making it tough for you to break free. But this is where the deep clean comes in—the healing of the clutter within to clear the clutter on the outside. This is what we’ll be doing together in these pages. Together, we will make it right by peeling back all the layers to be sure you’re answering all the calls within.
The piles, stacks, and boxes will be the tools you’ll use to gain the clarity you need to finally let them go. We’ll explore, in depth, the three core causes of clutter, and when you understand which of the three are in play for you, you’ll not only clear your physical space but you’ll also heal aspects of your life you’ve likely struggled with for a long time. Like I said: everyone has clutter. And yours may be where you least expect it.
This book is divided into two parts. The first section dissects the three core causes of clutter and invites you to use them as excavators to uncover the roots of your clutter hotspots. The second section will take you into specific rooms and areas where clutter commonly accumulates to show you this process in action. By observing the roll-out of this unique approach, you will know precisely how to apply it to your own home and life.
Since you have this book in your hands, that also tells me you are a spiritual warrior. You are primed and ready for this mission. You are eager to break free from the limitations that surround you and finally claim the space in your life in which you can expand, grow, and live out loud.
In reading this book, you’ll get to know yourself on a deep, intimate level. You’ll come face-to-face with your resistance, your fear, your younger self, and your shadow self, and you’ll learn how beneficial the relationships you have with them are in becoming the confident trailblazer you’ve longed to be.
In my first book, What Your Clutter Is Trying to Tell You, I introduced you to the concept of your clutter being more than just “stuff”; that there is a message in the mess. Anything you resist clearing or letting go of has something to tell you. In this book, we’re going to answer that call.
Whether you’re looking to right-size your home and belongings, simplify your life, or unload your doubts and fears, this book will teach you the powerful and loving approach of using your clutter as a catalyst for change to propel you toward your goals.
Let’s make some space for your new life, shall we?
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Redefining Clutter: The Secrets in Your Stuff 9
Chapter 2 Core Clutter Cause #1: Unrealistic Expectations 17
Chapter 3 Core Clutter Cause #2: Limiting Beliefs 29
Chapter 4 Core Clutter Cause #3: A Lack of Boundaries 47
Chapter 5 Take Your Power Back from Paperwork 63
Chapter 6 Draining Relationships: Repair or Replace6? 79
Chapter 7 Books, Boxes, and Beliefs in the Bedroom 105
Chapter 8 Releasing the Weight of Emotional Clutter 121
Chapter 9 Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan 137
Chapter 10 Your Clutter-Clearing Trail Map 149
Chapter 11 The Tools to Prevent a Clutter Resurgence 163
Core Clutter Cheat Sheet 172
About the Author 179