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Mind Over Matter: The Psychology of Clutter

Apr 3rd 2011, 19:17, by Swapsity

It’s estimated that an average household has more than $2,000 worth of unwanted items. Imagine all that clutter! Whether it’s an impulsive purchase we can’t return or something we’ve outgrown, letting go of unwanted things can be tough. To figure out why de-cluttering is so difficult and how we can finally conquer it, we looked to Jeremy Greer, professional organizer and Swapsity member.

“Many of us assign memories to things and are afraid of letting go of these things,” he says. “We often feel that by letting them go, it will erase part of our life.”

Jeremy explains that stuff can create a superficial comfort zone and we often use it as a security blanket. We feel that if we keep everything the same, with our surroundings unchanged, we’ll be able to hold onto the present time. It’s scary to think about what might happen if we let them go. As Kahlil Gibran once wisely said, “For what are possessions but things you keep and guard for fear you may need them tomorrow?”

One of Jeremy’s clients struggled with this recently. She had piles of items cluttering her home and every time Jeremy tried to help her get rid of those items, she countered with a story of how she might need it in the future or how important it had been in the past. It’s no surprise that cutting ties to our belongings can be a challenging and time consuming process.

Jeremy points out that this pattern of attachment is present in our everyday lives. We are often living in the past or thinking about the future instead of being in the present moment. By the same token, our clutter is often sentimental, representing what has happened to us, or items we hold onto in anticipation of what may come.

He advises people struggling with clutter to trust themselves. “We worry letting go of stuff because we fear it’s irreplaceable and that we may never get it back,” says Jeremy, adding that if we let go of that clutter and our fear, the things we think we need will come back to us if we truly need them.

So how can we let go of stuff? Jeremy has these three suggestions:

Tip 1: Take inventory of what you own, categorize like items and set aside any multiples. Then you can start to purge whatever you don’t need.

Tip 2: Challenge yourself to let go of one or two items that you’re struggling to part with. If you succeed at this task, says Jeremy, you’re more likely to see a positive shift in your clutter-busting efforts. If it brings you to tears, don’t feel embarrassed. Jeremy explains that it’s normal to feel overwhelmed by emotion when letting go of a sentimental item.

Tip 3: At the end of the process, treat yourself! You’ve taken a meaningful step forward so celebrate, not by buying something but by setting aside some “me” time, watching your favourite TV show or doing something you love.

Put Jeremy’s advice to the test! It can lead to a simpler, happier, clutter-free life. Give it a try!


ganga wrote on Nov 30th 2011, 19:40

does jeremy swap his services?

Leila Laskujarvi wrote on Apr 4th 2012, 17:36

Yeah, I'm wondering the same - does Jeremy swap his services? I'd be interested in contacting him.

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