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From Clutter to Clarity

External clutter is linked to your internal state of mind. Ownership of things is part of what the self is trying to accomplish. It feels bigger and more important when it has more.

Because of this, we tend to let things define us. This is one of the problems of finding true happiness. Things decay. Nothing but change is permanent. Your car gets scratches. You kitten grows up. Your clothes gets stains or get worn out. A large part of us ends up attached to the identity of these things in our lives. But you are not only your car. You are not only your possessions. Understanding that tendency of self is very important. And rethinking our relationship to the things in our life can be very freeing.

I mention this to point out that our self is directly related to the things in our life. Self likes things. If growing your self is important (which it sometimes is for damaged people, like homeless people), then growing your things may be important as well. But if softening your attachment to self is important, then freeing yourself of things to some degree, or at least organizing them into what you really care about becomes very important.

Again, the external world represents our internal world. The busier we are in the mind, the busier our lives will look from an organizational perspective. Ultimately, it’s nice to have an accurate and orderly representation of our lives. But why is dealing with things and clutter so hard?

Many times it’s because of something called approach avoidance. We end up wanting to clean our clutter, but when we get close enough to see it, there is some pain associated with it and so we move on. We don’t want to clear our clutter because it is often too hard to deal with what that clutter represents emotionally. Often times we don’t see this consciously. That unconscious energy can be deeply draining.

This avoidance can come from pain, sadness, anger, or confusion. It could also be from apathy. You may like your stuff where it is, and if you do, that’s great. But if you don’t, then try to turn into the avoidance with commitment and courage. Once you clear some clutter, take note of how it makes you feel. That energy and clarity is powerful, and shows us that we’re much more in relation with the world than our mind would lead us to believe. We are not as separate from our things as we thought.