At some point, we all have things lying around our house that we don’t even care about anymore.
Maybe it’s a pile of university paperwork that should have made its way to the recycling bin, or a big stash of toys that we played with as a little kid.
It doesn’t really matter what exactly these things are. But what they tend to have in common is sentimental value. Whenever we see them, a lot of old memories can come up.
For example, in my room I have a lantern that I built for school, and every time I see it, it reminds me of how we went round our neighbourhood knocking on people’s doors on Saint Martin’s Day (November 11).
While this is a fun memory to have, I also had things in my room that I’d outgrown. They’d served their purpose, and still (even though I didn’t really appreciate them), I had a hard time letting them go.
In the past few weeks, I chose to clear all that stuff out though – for several reasons:
Clutter attracts more clutter
The message that you send to your subconscious when you leave lots of stuff lying around your house, is that that’s exactly how you want to things to be. You want lots of stuff, and you want it to be messy. That’s why clutter tends to attract more clutter, until (inevitably) you decide to clear out.
Or you can choose to live the rest of your life like this:
Childhood toys keep us trapped in past memories
Every time I see a certain book about building stuff, it reminds me of how my father used to read for me for bedtime. I loved that book, and it’s a great memory to look back on. But if you have 100s of things round your house that constantly bring up memories from past times, it can be hard to live in the now. Especially if you’re trying to move on from your childlike innocence to a more “adult-like” life.
Old things stir up old trauma
We usually cling to toys and other objects, because we have an emotional attachment to them. While this can be a positive attachment, with fond memories, it can also be a reminder of bad experiences we’ve had.
If, in the past, we’ve projected negative emotions onto those objects, that can make it super hard to let go of them. Because the only way we can let those objects go, is if we let our negative emotions go first.
Now imagine what happens if you have those objects placed in plain sight in your room. On a subconscious level, you are constantly stirring up that old trauma, and that bad experience is revived every time you look at that object.
It’s like someone who was in abusive relationship and keeps bumping into their abuser at work. Just that this happens on a subconscious level, so you don’t even notice the pain you may be causing yourself.
Clutter makes it hard to break out of old patterns
Let me tell you why… when I was little my grandma gave me a pretty doll for my birthday. It was a nice doll, but it felt stone cold and I was uncomfortable with the way it seemed to look at me. Of course, I didn’t want to upset my grandma, but I didn’t know whether I should tell her that I didn’t like her gift.
So, I felt super uncomfortable.
If I had this doll lying around my room (which I did for years), it would constantly remind of that unease I felt – which is the same unease I feel today when someone gifts me something I don’t like. I don’t want to lie at the person who is gifting me, and I appreciate their gesture, but I don’t want to upset them either.
While this is still a recurring pattern in my life – it would be so much harder to break out of that pattern if I had that doll lying around my house.
A messy desk ruins your focus at work
When you have a cluttered desk set-up, it becomes so much harder to find those documents you need. But not just that: clutter can distract you in the most inconvenient ways. For example, if you’re on a call with your manager, and all you can think of is that massive pile of paper you need to clear out.
The same goes for digital stuff. If you have 100s of tabs open on your laptop, it becomes really hard to find what you need.
If you haven’t done so already, take some time this week for a (digital) declutter!