My last post on clutter received a lot of interest so I invited clutter specialist Carolyn Koehnline to write a guest blog:
I know how to deal with clutter. I’ve been helping other people address it for over twenty years. And yet, when I’m facing my own neglected piles I can still sometimes experience that unhelpful but familiar mix of shame, fatigue, and overwhelm.
Clutter is the stuff we want to avoid. It is the boxes, bags and piles connected to decisions we don’t want to make and feelings we don’t want to feel. It is the physical reminder of losses, changes, mistakes, things we meant to do and didn’t. It is the physical evidence that we don’t have everything perfectly together in our lives. Most of us practice ignoring it on a regular basis. When we do decide to deal with it, just looking at it can open the door to whatever judgmental voices we carry around. “You are such a loser! When are you going to grow up?” And in my case, “And you call yourself a clutter coach?”
It’s time to reach for my journal – my kind, wise, non-judgmental clutter-clearing companion. Just opening it, I begin to access more helpful parts of my brain. My journal has plenty of room for venting and sob stories. If I’m stuck, it offers clear thinking and fresh perspectives.
When you’re stuck try writing down some specific questions and then let your journal answer.
For example: Why is this pile so daunting? What will help?
Often the answers that come will be just what you need to get yourself moving.
If I’m overwhelmed, it grounds me with practical, doable steps. Best of all, it is an unending source of compassion and mindfulness –essential ingredients for lasting changes in my environment, and my life.
1) When you are trying to decide what to do about an emotionally-loaded object complete the following sentence stems:
If I keep it . . .
If I let it go . . .
Explore all your hopes and fears attached to the object.
I’ve seen it over and over in my therapy practice and clutter-coaching. Clients try to motivate themselves to clear clutter with shame and self-punishment. Real change comes when they learn to be encouraging support people to themselves. Often it is their journals that teach them how to do that.
Carolyn Koehnline is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Certified Journal Therapist, and clutter coach. Her website is www.ConfrontingClutter.com. Her book, Confronting Your Clutter: Releasing the excess baggage from your home, head, heart, and schedule is available on Amazon.
Thank you, Carolyn
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