There is a common vocabulary used by people who are living with clutter. These words and phrases give clues to the effects of clutter on the physical, emotional, and spiritual level.
A lot can be learned about the person living with clutter by listening to what they have to say when they describe their current cluttered life and their unsuccessful efforts in getting rid of clutter. The interpretation of the language of clutter is as follows:
“I feel so bogged down!”
The clutter is causing this person to feel stuck and they are having difficulty moving forward emotionally to let go of their possessions that are tying them to the past. There is also the possibility that the clutter is creating physical obstacles making it difficult to move freely in their own space.
“I don’t know where to start.”
This statement reflects an inability to focus. The person is having difficulty setting priorities or getting clarity on the most important and the lesser important tasks. When setting priorities is difficult procrastination often results in more delayed decisions. More delayed decisions often means accumulation of more clutter.
“I feel like I am suffocating”
This statement is very revealing on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level.
- On a physical level health problems can be caused by clutter. Respiratory problems such as allergy induced asthma can be caused by clutter thus making it more difficult to breathe. The term suffocating is quite appropriate to describe this!
- On an emotional level the clutterer uses the word “suffocating” to express the emotional burden and responsibility that comes with the ownership of too many things. Additionally the many decisions that need to be made to clear the clutter are weighing heavily on the person’s mind.
- On a spiritual level the clutter does not feel free to be the person they were created to be and the clutter is stifling the spiritual and creative energies they need to express who they really are.
“I’m so confused.”
This statement reflects the inner turmoil that the lack of order brings to the clutter’s life.
“I don’t know how it got like this.”
Clutter cannot accumulate when user friendly systems are in place to keep it under control. This statement reflects that belief that life’s circumstances are beyond mortal control.
“I am overwhelmed.”
This statement reflects the energy drain that is caused by clutter in your physical environment. A person who is overwhelmed cannot mount the energy needed to clear the clutter.
“It is hopeless. Every time I try to get rid of it, it comes back.”
Hopelessness can be a sign of depression. Depression has been associated with the accumulation of clutter and many clutters consider themselves to be depressed. In fact emotional impoverishment in adolescence has been linked to clutter behavior.
“I can’t get rid of that it belonged to my father.”
Statements that indicate a sentimental attachment to the object because it belonged to a loved one who has died may indicate that the loss is not fully resolved and the person is still grieving for their loved one.
“I can’t get rid of that, it is still in good shape.”
This statement indicates that the clutterer feels that is throwing something away is wasteful. Usually this reflects a feeling that being wasteful means they are a bad person.
“I can’t get rid of that I paid good money for it.”
No matter what you paid for it , any purchase that brings an item into your life but adds nothing of value to your life is not a good purchase. This statement indicates that the clutterer is feeling ashamed for making a bad purchase.
“But I think I will use it one day.”
This expression is about giving up potential for the future. The clutterer may have purchases or acquired an item with plans to do something specific and is expressing an unwillingness to give up those hopes and dreams.
A lot can be learned through the words and phrases used by the person with a cluttered life, but no matter how you interpret the language of clutter one thing is for certain, words like “peace”,, “contentment”, “calm and orderly” are conspicuously absent in the vocabulary of the person living with clutter.
Beverly Hansen OMalley
These are great observations, thank you. I tried to access your website, but it seems to have problems, both its ‘live’ version and even the archived versions on archive.org. Your website shows up for a few seconds and then redirects to some unrelated sales site. I hope you’ll check this out and correct it, because I’m interested in reading more from you.