Updated: Jul 29, 2022
Excerpt From Oddball: A Memoir and Resilience
Chaos, Clutter and Organization
Just like our bodies, our spaces need upkeep because of the sneaky effects of entropy—the gradual decline if order where chaos begins to take hold of everything. You can use the environment assessment as a starting point in making the evaluation of your spaces.
Fortunately there is plenty of information available for us to use to help get us into harmony and balance. You may not be someone interested in a minimalist lifestyle but organizing our space goes a long way in helping us clear the clutter inside and outside our heads. This can help us in so many ways, especially in dealing with stress, pain and adversity. With clarity we can be in the moment more easily and make better decisions.
There are people who are perfectly happy with clutter and disorganization. If they feel they are in internal balance and have their own internal knowing of where their “stuff” is then who is to judge. The issue is when their disorganization causes health, safety issues. There is a whole field in mental health dedicated to that and help available for those who need it.
What causes us to acquire clutter?
The causes of cluttering in one’s home has many complex reasons. Growing up, my family had very little material needs. We would get what we could get from the Salvation Army and good old fashion garbage picking in wealthy neighborhoods. I can personal attest to having second, third and fourth hand items most of my life. Because of our running from apartment to apartment because of the arson fires of the 70’s and financial hardship we held on to what we could and filled our respective living space with lots of stuff, which I can say was mostly junk in the form of blankets, used clothes and household items.
Holding on to things gave us a sense of safety and comfort. Until you realize, that it doesn’t really do that. It is in fact a safety hazard and dust magnet and if you go a step further, staying stuck and making no room for better things. The emotional attachment we can make to an object runs deep and strong. It takes a lot of courage and strength to make the decision to let things go that do not serve you well physically, emotionally and spiritually. It is not easy and your good intentions may just not be enough. You have to be firm, strong, and get help if you need it from a source that can help you gain an objective perspective.
I am cautions of any specific trend used to organize and declutter. Trendy techniques may work for a little while but some if the advice is unsustainable. For instance, I saw an article on tidying up insist one do laundry and dishes every day. This is not always possible. In fact this adds an extra pressure that isn’t necessary especially if you suffer from chronic pain and stress. Something like dishes can be done as soon as possible if one is able.
Some people use dish washing machines, but plenty of people do not, and washing by hand obviously takes more time and effort. If you can strive to do you dishes as soon as you are done the better.
With any issue of chronic clutter and possible hoarding, it is crucial to deal with the underlying reasons for collecting and holding on to unnecessary things. If you don’t gain the motivation for wanting clarity, balance, harmony and beauty instead of stuff, you can fall back unnecessarily into the clutter habit and even want to give up on the whole decluttering
Though I am not a minimalist, I aspire to get close to it.
As someone who was a blooming hoarder, I can tell you it’s a matter of trial and error and determination. The thought of, I may need this someday, is usually a trickster. In this world, I need important identification documents, but do I really need that physical essay I wrote in college? Or if I decide to digitize my clutter, do I really need those ten thousand photos I took at that event? Or did I just transfer my tendency to collect (too much) and hoard into another form? We simply have to be very honest with ourselves because as clever as we think we are, we aren’t fooling anyone, especially ourselves.
As you have seen by now, I like to take things in bite-sized pieces. Instant change doesn’t for me or many others. A systemized, committed process using patience and various techniques will yield much better results. And results are what we want.