Have you ever felt being lost? Have you felt like you were living someone else's life but didn't know what to do about it? Are you generally happy but there is that nagging feeling that something is not quite right?
Every time I was stuck in life, I've done one thing, and that's decluttering. Examining your clutter can give you an insight into who you are, and that information can help you decide how to proceed. Below, I am going to explain how it works.
Your clutter tells you who you are
At some point, you made the decision to collect what you now consider clutter. Clutter didn’t happen on its own. OK, so it was your Aunty Lou who gave you that hideous sweater two Christmases ago, but you kept it because you love her.
As you go through your clutter, you will notice a pattern. You probably have similar or identical items. Maybe you have multiple mugs with silly sayings on them. Maybe you’re obsessed with white blouses. Or you have hundreds of books that you haven't read yet.
These patterns tell you what you like and care about. You with the silly mugs like to say funny stuff and make people laugh. You probably enjoy being around people. Miss White Blouses likes being tidy, organized and punctual. You get offended when people show up late. The book collector is fascinated by things they don't know. Pay close attention to these patterns because they are the keys to understanding who you are.
Your clutter chronicles your changes throughout the years
You are always evolving and so the clutter you collect reflects your changes. Perhaps you were into knitting five years ago but not so much now. Maybe you were into hiking when you were with your ex; now the gears are just lying on your garage floor collecting dust. I know several people who kept all their school notes and books since elementary school. These are markers of your past, and who you were.
To be reacquainted with your past is sometimes useful since it gives you a hint on who you are today. Who were you ten years ago and what changed you? Was it certain people or a decision you made? Did the change happen gradually? Do you like the changes you see in yourself?
Your clutter tells you about your aspirations
I bought tons of self-help books, beauty products, exercising equipment and enrolled in courses hoping to be a better, upgraded version of myself. I’m not sure if I learned anything from the majority of the self-help books, and I still look the same after using various lotions and potions. Only exercising equipment I now own is a yoga mat that gets used maybe twice a week. I don’t even remember which courses I took.
If I still owned these items, they would represent my hopes and aspirations. They tell who I want to be, what I value and what I think makes me happy once I get them. But I want to be better is a flip side of I am not happy with who I am today, which leads to my next point....
Your clutter tells you about your unresolved issues—solve it or let it go.
Why am I obsessed with looking in a certain way and being perceived as intelligent? Well, I blame my upbringing. (Great, society and parents always get the blame!) I had a very unhealthy relationship with my parents and that (de)formed my perspective.
So I have two issues to conquer: 1) let go of the damaging attitude that constantly put myself as less than ideal; 2) decide if I want to keep talking to my parents who haven’t changed. I’ve been working on the first issue, pretty much all my life, and it’s been so hard! Oh well, such is life. For the second issue, I recently chose to cut ties with my parents. I’m not sure if there is a direct connection or not, but I made that decision a few months after I let go of old family photo albums (13 volumes!).
In summary, as you notice patterns in your clutter, see the changes in things you accumulate over the years, pick on the corpses of your hopes and aspirations, and explore your unresolved issues, you will have a clearer picture of who you are and where you want to go.