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Your Clutter May Be Concealing Some Critical Truths 

It’s hard to imagine that the clutter stacked on our countertops, and stuffed inside a few cabinets, closets and maybe the garage could signify an important revelation. It’s hard to imagine that it’d spark insights about who we are and what we need.

But it can.

For Brooke McAlary, who pens the blog Slow Your Home, decluttering revealed all sorts of uncomfortable truths: “I had no idea what I stood for, what was important in my life, what deserved my time and attention and what didn’t.”

McAlary wanted to portray a specific image to others, which was actually driving her desire to buy more and have certain things: “I wanted people to think I ‘had it all together,’ that I was successful and living a good, enviable life. I wanted to own the clothes, wear the makeup, have the new house, not because they were important to me but because I wanted to appear successful.”

Maybe you can relate.

Maybe you grew up in a family where appearances were everything, where your possessions somehow spoke to the person you were. Maybe you’re living in a neighborhood where that’s the case, where big homes, designer bags and pricey cars mean you’re successful—and ultimately that you’re worthy. Maybe you’re trying to keep up with the Joneses online instead of next door.

So you’ve accumulated everything from a closet crammed with clothes (with tags) to boxes of seasonal decorations to several collections of fine china and random trinkets. And you’ve unwittingly adopted values that when you really think about it, actually have nothing to do with what you sincerely believe.

Maybe you grew up in a family where gifts meant love, or there wasn’t enough money for presents. And so, you’ve given what feels like thousands and thousands of toys to your kids (and have thousands of dollars of debt).

Maybe your clutter reveals the person you yearn to be, but have yet to become: the athlete, the well-read book collector, the natural-born chef, the super creative mom who loves to craft and give homemade gifts. Which is why you cling to: the unused exercise equipment in the basement; the bikes and triathlon gear in the shed; the shelves of unread books; the cabinets of unused appliances; or the plastic bins filled with glue, scrapbook paper, old magazines and glitter.

Maybe your clutter represents someone you’re not anymore.

McAlary had a hard time getting rid of her jewelry supplies, even though she’d closed her jewelry business. “My identity for the past few years had been tied directly to that jewelry, and to give it away was admitting I wasn’t the person I thought I was,” she writes in her insightful new book Slow: Simple Living for a Frantic World. “I wasn’t the go-get-‘em budding entrepreneur or the hard worker or the mom who managed to balance work and stay-at-home parenting, and what did that say about me?”

Our clutter often represents our someday, a day that actually never comes. What does is the shame, which keeps lingering. You wonder what’s wrong with you. You wonder why you can’t get it together. You realize it must be because you’re inherently flawed.

You’re not. You’re simply changing. Or you were never interested in those things to begin with. That’s OK, too.

McAlary views decluttering as “a wonderful place to begin the work of excavating our true selves, our values, our priorities, and creating the time and space with which we can begin to live a more truthful version of life.”

clutter

In other words, getting rid of the excess can create the opportunity to shed old and no longer true parts of ourselves. It can create the opportunity to relinquish old needs, wants and wishes. It can create the opportunity to start living according to our most significant values.

McAlary eventually gave away all her jewelry, because it was dragging her down and keeping her stuck. As she writes in her book, “I continued to tie my identity to this stuff, but instead of being a positive thing, it had morphed into self-loathing and failure. Why would I want to keep that around?”

Letting go of the jewelry actually felt liberating—and it was both less scary and more exhilarating than she thought it would be.

She also let go of wanting to appear successful to others and started asking herself more meaningful (and tougher) questions: “What matters to me? What do I want my life to stand for? What do I want my legacy to be?”

What if you asked yourself these questions, too?

McAlary wrote her own eulogy when she was 31. “[I] have used it ever since as a foundation on which I’ve slowly built a life full of the things that are important to me. And while my eulogy had nothing at all to do with decluttering, I would never have had the clarity to sit and write it had I not spent time shedding layers of stuff for years before.”

She includes her eulogy in the book, which she imagines her children saying:

Quick to laugh, creative, compassionate, with a wicked sense of humor, Mom was never without a new plan or adventure on the horizon. She…was spontaneous, loyal, introspective, and believed wholeheartedly that we all have a responsibility to leave the world a better place than we found it. Mom, we’ll miss you always. Thank you for our roots, but thank you even more for our wings.

When we declutter, we stop carrying the weight of all our things, of all our past needs and wishes and identities, of values we no longer hold, of shame that only shatters us.

“We can let go of the guilt and the obligations and the stories we tell ourselves about who we are,” McAlary said. “[A]nd we can put that time and energy in to things that truly matter to us.”

Which might mean savoring short trips and adventures with your family, practicing restorative yoga, taking dance classes, hosting dinner parties (where the main course is pizza from the delicious place down the block), and having items in your home that you absolutely love, that genuinely reflect who you are. Right now.

Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.         9 Sep 2018
 
Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. is an Associate Editor and regular contributor at Psych Central.
Her Master’s degree is in clinical psychology from Texas A&M University.
In addition to writing about mental disorders, she blogs regularly about body and self-image issues on her Psych Central blog, Weightless.


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10 Things You Should Know About Compulsive Hoarding

By Therese Borchard

Many people might claim that, at least at one point in their lives, they could be classified as a “pack rat” or a “closet clutterer.” However, compulsive hoarding is an anxiety disorder that involves much more than keeping extra papers and magazines around, or collecting CDs under your desk. Severe compulsive hoarding can interfere with a person’s activities–such as cooking, cleaning, showering, and sleeping–because piles of newspapers or clothes are found in the sink, in the shower, on the bed, and in every corner of a home.

There is more awareness of the issue today, due in part to the two reality TV series: “Hoarders” and “Hoarding: Buried Alive.” However, there is still so much more educating that needs to be done regarding this issue.

Here, then, are ten things you should know about hoarding. Much of the information was taken from the research of Gerald Nestadt, M.D., M.P.H and Jack Samuels, Ph.D. of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

1. Compulsive hoarding affects approximately 700,000 to 1.4 million people in the US.

2. Compulsive hoarding is often considered a form of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) because between 18 and 42 percent of people with OCD experience some compulsion to hoard. However, compulsive hoarding can affect people who don’t have OCD.

3. The OCD Collaborative Genetics Study reported that genetic linkage findings are different in OCD families with and without hoarding behavior, suggesting that a region on chromosome 14 is linked with compulsive hoarding behavior in these families and that hoarding is a distinct genetic subtype of OCD.

clutter

4. The compulsion to hoard often starts during childhood or the teen years, but doesn’t usually become severe until adulthood.

5. Hoarding can be more about fear of throwing something away than about collection or saving. Thinking about discarding an item triggers anxiety in the hoarder, so she hangs on to the item to prevent angst.

6. Many hoarders are perfectionists. They fear making the wrong decision about what to keep and what to throw out, so they keep everything.

7. Hoarding often runs in families and can frequently accompany other mental health disorders, like depression, social anxiety, bipolar disorder, and impulse control problems. A majority of people with compulsive hoarding can identify another family member who has the problem.

8. Compulsive hoarders rarely recognize their problem. Generally, only after the hoarding becomes a problem with other family members is the problem discussed.

9. Compulsive hoarding can be difficult to control. It is usually treated in the same way OCD is. However, compulsive hoarding doesn’t usually respond as well as other kinds of OCD.

10. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) may be more effective for compulsive hoarding than medications, especially when it involves a therapist going into the home of the hoarder and helps her to develop habits and a consistent behavioral program to try to de-clutter her home, car, and life.


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8 Creative Ways to Clear Clutter

by Money Talks New   s 1/11/15  

These tips from Money Talks News are exactly what you need if you’re looking to declutter your home or office space!

Are you feeling a little overwhelmed by the postholiday excess all around you? Have the past several years of your family’s success with Santa left your closets, garage, attic, and office filled to the rafters? If so, it may be time for some creative clutter-busting strategies.

Now, here are eight ways of kicking the clutter habit now:

1. Start with three questions

Let three questions cut through your material clutter by cutting through the mental clutter that often makes it difficult to part with things. With each item you consider, ask yourself:

  1. Do I love it?
  2. Do I use it?
  3. Will I ever need it?

If your response to each of these questions is no, then it’s much easier to rationalize passing the item along and letting it find a new home. But be ruthlessly honest as you answer each query. Responses that begin with “No, but . . . ” usually mean that your decluttering is sputtering.

2. Target one area at a time

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of stuff that most of us live with. Deciding to declutter and live happily with less is an achievement in its own right. Instead of diving right in and burning out quickly, focus on one area of your home or office at a time.

Because a little positive reinforcement never hurts, start with the easiest areas first. Declutter a chest of drawers, a hall closet, one kitchen cupboard, or a single drawer in your desk. Then use that momentum to move on to the next spot.

If it helps, make a list of all the clutter hot spots that need attention and check each one off as you calm the chaos.

3. Get rid of one item per day

If taming the clutter in your environment seems like an impossible task, start slowly. Decide to rid yourself of just a single item per day but be determined and relentless.

As the weeks and months pass, you’ll begin to notice and enjoy the extra elbow room your efforts have created. Build on your success by accelerating the clutter-busting schedule and letting go of two or three items each day.

declutter-picture

4. Adopt a one-in-one-out rule

To achieve and maintain a clutter-free home or office, adopt a zero-accumulation habit. For every new item that comes into your space, make sure one item goes. Donate or sell usable items and toss what’s left.

For a more aggressive take on the same idea, try a one-in-two-out rule and watch those prodigious piles and cramped closets slowly disappear.

5. Think inside the box

The four-box method is a tried-and-true way to quickly get a handle on large amounts of clutter while still ensuring that each item is consciously considered. To begin, get four large boxes and assign each box one of these labels:

  • Donate.
  • Sell.
  • Trash/recycling.
  • Keep and relocate.

As you process the stuff all around you, each item must land in a box. The boxes become a macro filing system that prevents you from just moving piles around and helps you sort what’s needed and what’s not. When you finish organizing one area, empty the boxes according to their label and start over.

6. Do the dozen

Organize strictly by the numbers and watch the piles shrink fast. Choose a regular time each week or month for a 12-12-12 decluttering project. Find a dozen items in your home or office to donate, a dozen to toss or recycle, and a dozen to return to their proper place. In short order, you’ve gone through at least 36 items and rid yourself of 24.

7. Impose a space limit

As if by magic, the volume of our possessions expands to fit the available space. Before we know it, that larger house we scrimped and saved for is just as cramped as the smaller one we left behind.

To help combat the slow creep of clutter, impose an artificial space limit for problem areas. For example, decide to accumulate no more kitchen utensils than will fit into a single drawer, or only enough makeup for one travel-sized cosmetics bag. Using a finite physical space to limit the seemingly infinite potential of clutter is relatively painless and helps keep those molehills from becoming mountains.

8. Go digital

Ah . . . if only everything we owned could be digitized and stored in the cloud for easy retrieval when we needed it. It sounds like a minimalist’s dream. Thankfully, at least some of the stuff around us qualifies for easy digital or cloud-based storage.

Clear your desk by scanning documents and photos and storing them digitally through a service like Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, Evernote, or Dropbox. If you don’t have access to a scanner, try minimizing some of the paper clutter by photographing documents.

Few things are more refreshing and reenergizing than starting out the New Year with less stuff and a sharper focus. And it’s relatively simple to do. Cutting the clutter just takes a bit of smart strategy and good old-fashioned perseverance. No matter what method you choose to begin, the biggest step is the first step.


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11 Life-Enhancing Habits to Adopt

AgingCare.com   January 8, 2015

There’s no time like the present to reaffirm your commitment to your own health and well-being. The best part? You don’t have to adhere to any grand resolutions, just try to adopt a few of these simple daily health habits:

Make yourself a priority: It’s easy to put your own health needs on the back burner, especially if you’re balancing family obligations,work responsibilities and a social life. But, even if it seems more convenient in the short-term, avoiding the doctor’s office, gym or produce section of your local grocery store will only hurt you in the long run. Make a commitment to prioritize your physical and mental well-being this year.

Get organized: The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to clear the clutter from your life and to stop making excuses for putting things off.

Make more meals Mediterranean: Following a Mediterranean-style diet—full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats—has long been upheld as a paragon example of healthy eating. So feel free to indulge your inner-Greek with foods like salmon, spinach, tahini, couscous, olives, arugula and red wine (in moderation). Just be sure to stay away from the baklava!

Stay social: Maintaining strong social connections is essential for warding off depression and other chronic diseases. Experts have also found that serious isolation—both self-imposed and unavoidable—can significantly degrade an individual’s quality of life.

Get a brown bag checkup: So-called “brown bag checkups” are a great way to ensure the safety and efficacy of the medications you are taking. During a brown bag checkup,  bring all of the medications you’re taking—both prescription and over-the-counter—to your pharmacist, who will then make sure that none of the drugs could be negatively interacting with one another.

Do clean teeth protect against heart disease?



Be diligent about brushing: Take a few extra minutes each day to attend to your chompers. Poor oral health has been linked to a variety of ailments, from dementia to heart disease.

Get active: Absence of physical activity is one of the top 10 Things That Age You. Indeed, sedentary behavior can contribute to the development of not only physical but mental decline as well—especially as you age. The good news is that exercise doesn’t have to be drudgery. Go for a hike in the woods, walk around a local park or just play a game of tug-of-war with your dog–anything that gets your blood pumping and amps up your endorphins.

Seek a serene mindset: Anxiety and fear can do a number on your overall well-being by kicking your stress response into overdrive and causing widespread inflammation in your body. While you may not be able to completely escape feelings of angst, practicing mindfulness and meditation on a regular basis can help you attain a calmer state of mind.

Safeguard your sleep: From memory to metabolism to mood management, research has shown that getting enough sleep is a key component of a healthy body and mind.

Celebrate the simple things: Ignore the cliché nature of this tip, and check out this story of a woman who learned to place more value on life’s simple experiences after her husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease: The Simple Things in Life With Alzheimer’s.

Be more open-minded: A recent investigation of aging Finns discovered that older adults who adopted a more cynical worldview had a much higher dementia risk than those who were more trusting of other people. These findings held true, even for people who were not clinically depressed, or economically or educationally disadvantaged. Aside from the detrimental health effects of cynicism, consider how much better off the human race would be if there were a little less judgment in the world and a little more compassion and forgiveness.


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10 Reasons To Stop What You’re Doing and Start Clearing Your Clutter

By Dana Claudat     November 13, 2013

Collecting and being consumed by clutter on a grand scale is a relatively modern concept. Our ancient ancestors didn’t have a supermarket at nearly every corner, malls and online shopping at every turn. When life was less complicated, there were not nearly as many ways to accumulate excess, the unwanted stuff we call “clutter.”

In feng shui, there’s a concept of energy flow and vitality known as “chi,” or “qi”. This life-force energy needs to move freely and in abundance in a space for it to promote heath, happiness and prosperity. Clutter creates an obstruction and stops that amazing flow.

Clutter can be found in an array of places, and can be cleared on many levels. Here are a few common causes of clutter:

  •     Clothes that don’t fit, or that you don’t like in your closet
  •     A refrigerator or pantry filled with expired foods or food that affects you negatively
  •     Books you don’t want to read on the shelf
  •     Excess paper clutter in offices
  •     Email overwhelm and social media clutter of messages
  •     Purses, wallets
  •     Storage units, attics and garages

And the list goes on.

I could just suggest that you clear up your clutter — donate what you can, recycle, up-cycle, file, store or safely dispose of the rest — and a few of you will do it. Many of you won’t. It is a chore.

Clearing clutter is also an emotional process for many people, especially when the clutter is extreme. It can create chaos and frustration at the outset to clear your clutter.

If you don’t quit clearing the clutter, even when it gets chaotic for a moment, this act of purging can be a life-changing activity! But, if you don’t know how it can help you, you might leave it undone.

Here are a handful of the benefits of clearing clutter — the profoundly cool ones I have seen again and again — that might just motivate you to start clearing out some of your own space.

1. You’ll feel less anxious.

Clutter is made up of stuff that is either junk, unfinished projects you’ve told yourself you’ll finish, or things that need to be handled that you haven’t wanted to confront. All of those messages looming in your environment, even stuffed in closets and drawers, are like trying to stuff a bad memory away instead of dealing with it in a conscious way.

2. Your days will be more productive.

When you don’t have physical obstructions like piles of paper staring you in the face, you can do so much more in much less time.

lessismore

3. You may lose some weight!

Several clients and friends have shown me that clutter can be correlated with excess weight. Since our environments are an external mirror of our internal mind and life, when you free yourself of the extra stuff, pounds tend to come off, even if you aren’t clearing your kitchen (*though I suggest the kitchen as a first step for most people aiming to lose weight).

4. You’ll be free of emotional stagnation.

The gifts from past romances that haunt you, the things you hold onto that you know are keeping you stuck in the past… releasing them will help you to feel more free and present.

5. Your mental focus will sharpen.

Clear spaces and countertops are a feng shui way to express metal energy. Metal energy in feng shui helps you to curate, to think sharply and zero in on the tasks that you select as important.

6. Your creativity can flourish.

When you shake yourself free of “stuff” you don’t need, you become more open to that “life force,” or “chi,” I mentioned earlier. Creativity on a high level is the expression of that energy running through us without obstruction. We say we are “blocked” when we can’t create freely. Clutter-clearing is a tool to get unblocked.

7. You’ll get allergy relief.

Stuff collects dust, chemicals, mites, bugs… even mold and other organisms in the worst-case scenarios.

8. You’ll be open to opportunity.

One much-reported effect of clutter clearing is finding money or greater opportunity, especially when you dig deep into de-cluttering your business emails, work space, office files and even your personal contacts.

9. You’ll get a self-esteem boost.

Clutter assaults our self-esteem daily with reminders of things we don’t need or want to see: the broken, worn-out, bad-memory stuff that can drag you down in subtle but actual ways.

10. You’ll have more energy and be happier!

When there’s nothing hovering in your environment — stuffed, piled or splayed out — to impede motion, you might feel lightness, exuberance and greater energy. I always do!

If you’re overdue for a clutter clearing, give it a go. Slowly and consistently, you can create a massive change in your space and your life. If you have some stuff piling up regularly (emails, mail, receipts, etc), you may want to consider a daily or weekly practice of clutter clearing. Even a few minutes of clearing space can do wonders for your life!

source: www.mindbodygreen.com


Leave a comment

10 Reasons To Stop What You’re Doing & Start Clearing Your Clutter

By Dana Claudat  November 13, 2013

Collecting and being consumed by clutter on a grand scale is a relatively modern concept. Our ancient ancestors didn’t have a supermarket at nearly every corner, malls and online shopping at every turn. When life was less complicated, there were not nearly as many ways to accumulate excess, the unwanted stuff we call “clutter.”

In feng shui, there’s a concept of energy flow and vitality known as “chi,” or “qi”. This life-force energy needs to move freely and in abundance in a space for it to promote heath, happiness and prosperity. Clutter creates an obstruction and stops that amazing flow.

Clutter can be found in an array of places, and can be cleared on many levels. Here are a few common causes of clutter:

  •     Clothes that don’t fit, or that you don’t like in your closet
  •     A refrigerator or pantry filled with expired foods or food that affects you negatively
  •     Books you don’t want to read on the shelf
  •     Excess paper clutter in offices
  •     Email overwhelm and social media clutter of messages
  •     Purses, wallets
  •     Storage units, attics and garages

And the list goes on.

I could just suggest that you clear up your clutter — donate what you can, recycle, up-cycle, file, store or safely dispose of the rest — and a few of you will do it. Many of you won’t. It is a chore.

Clearing clutter is also an emotional process for many people, especially when the clutter is extreme. It can create chaos and frustration at the outset to clear your clutter.

If you don’t quit clearing the clutter, even when it gets chaotic for a moment, this act of purging can be a life-changing activity! But, if you don’t know how it can help you, you might leave it undone.

Here are a handful of the benefits of clearing clutter — the profoundly cool ones I have seen again and again — that might just motivate you to start clearing out some of your own space.

1. You’ll feel less anxious.

Clutter is made up of stuff that is either junk, unfinished projects you’ve told yourself you’ll finish, or things that need to be handled that you haven’t wanted to confront. All of those messages looming in your environment, even stuffed in closets and drawers, are like trying to stuff a bad memory away instead of dealing with it in a conscious way.

2. Your days will be more productive.

When you don’t have physical obstructions like piles of paper staring you in the face, you can do so much more in much less time.

Clutter

3. You may lose some weight!

Several clients and friends have shown me that clutter can be correlated with excess weight. Since our environments are an external mirror of our internal mind and life, when you free yourself of the extra stuff, pounds tend to come off, even if you aren’t clearing your kitchen (*though I suggest the kitchen as a first step for most people aiming to lose weight).

4. You’ll be free of emotional stagnation.

The gifts from past romances that haunt you, the things you hold onto that you know are keeping you stuck in the past… releasing them will help you to feel more free and present.

5. Your mental focus will sharpen.

Clear spaces and countertops are a feng shui way to express metal energy. Metal energy in feng shui helps you to curate, to think sharply and zero in on the tasks that you select as important.

6. Your creativity can flourish.

When you shake yourself free of “stuff” you don’t need, you become more open to that “life force,” or “chi,” I mentioned earlier. Creativity on a high level is the expression of that energy running through us without obstruction. We say we are “blocked” when we can’t create freely. Clutter-clearing is a tool to get unblocked.

7. You’ll get allergy relief.

Stuff collects dust, chemicals, mites, bugs… even mold and other organisms in the worst-case scenarios.

8. You’ll be open to opportunity.

One much-reported effect of clutter clearing is finding money or greater opportunity, especially when you dig deep into de-cluttering your business emails, work space, office files and even your personal contacts.

9. You’ll get a self-esteem boost.

Clutter assaults our self-esteem daily with reminders of things we don’t need or want to see: the broken, worn-out, bad-memory stuff that can drag you down in subtle but actual ways.

10. You’ll have more energy and be happier!

When there’s nothing hovering in your environment — stuffed, piled or splayed out — to impede motion, you might feel lightness, exuberance and greater energy. I always do!

If you’re overdue for a clutter clearing, give it a go. Slowly and consistently, you can create a massive change in your space and your life. If you have some stuff piling up regularly (emails, mail, receipts, etc), you may want to consider a daily or weekly practice of clutter clearing. Even a few minutes of clearing space can do wonders for your life!