Messy homes, cars or offices are common issues today with our busy lives. True clutter however, and I mean really messy environments, is actually a symptom of something other than a busy lifestyle.
Often clutter is a Control Issue. Being unwilling to let go of things is a way people can feel in control of their lives. Even though it appears that they are totally out-of-control, hanging onto “stuff” gives people a sense of being in control.
Another common reason for clutter is Fear. The fears of loss, rejection, failure and losing control are the most universal of these. But again, all of these fears and issues are just symptoms.
Clutter is often triggered by an event or a series of events that left the victim feeling traumatized, fearful and powerless. Determine the event that caused the feeling of loss of power or control and you are halfway home to eliminating clutter.
Here’s an example of a severe clutter issue and how we remedied it: “Janice”, who looked personally very neat and clean, came to see me with a home she described as “beyond filthy.” Boxes, trash, stacks of magazines and newspapers and junk lined her walls and floors. She could only reach her bedroom or kitchen through a small pathway. Janice said you couldn’t see her furniture or even the TV because it was littered with garbage. Dog poop was on the floors and even on her bed, and an out-of-cage parrot deposited bird poop everywhere. She said the smell was “staggering.” Ewww!
Janice’s case was similar to a TV program where three tons of garbage was hauled away from a woman’s home in several truckloads. A crew of 12 cleaned and sanitized the house, only to find it back in the same mess just six weeks later. That’s because the reason for the “clutter” was not dealt with.
The first thing I needed to do with Janice was discover the reason for her abnormal “habit.” When I asked her when clutter problem began, she had no problem remembering. Twenty years before, a drunk driver had killed her only child, a much-adored 11-year-old daughter. Janice was still devastated and in shock when, three weeks later, her beloved husband of 15 years was killed. A mudslide swept him away, eradicating their home and virtually everything else Janice had left. Photos, family keepsakes and personal treasures were lost; along with the two people she loved the most. Her whole life was turned upside down in a flash.
From that point on Janice was virtually paralyzed with grief, sadness and a sense of abandonment. She became fearful and hyper-vigilant about everything. She didn’t want to live, yet was terrified of dying. Janice became afraid to throw anything away, go anywhere or do anything. Her hoarding of things began her trend toward clutter. She didn’t do it intentionally. She subconsciously had developed such a fear of loss that controlling her environment became her way of controlling and protecting her very life.
With this knowledge, we first cleared out the grief and trauma about losing her husband, daughter and home. Using Progressive Emotional Release, *Pro-ER, a derivative of EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques), we “tapped away” the traumas until she was completely free of the emotional pain.
*Pro-ER is a way of releasing negative emotions that are caused by blocked energy in our bodies. By tapping on specific energy points on the face and upper torso, long-held emotions or traumas can be dissipated. Read more about Progressive Emotional Release at www.Pro-ER.com.
Since trauma and grief were the cause of Janice’s clutter problems, clearing the past helped eliminate her need for hoarding. This part of the process took less than 45 minutes using Pro-ER.
With the cause of her clutter issue now put to rest, we could then move on to fixing the symptom, which was the clutter. To do this I used my “Ultimate Truth Statement” to help Janice envision a life free of clutter. Like most people, Janice had focused on the problem and her shame about it, which kept her stuck there. When we focus on any negative: debt, weight, loneliness, fear, etc. we simply create more of the same.
First, I had Janice come up with a very basic statement of the goal she would like to achieve: “I want to live in a neat and orderly environment.” We then started transforming that into a very powerful statement she could get excited about. I had her list the reasons she wanted to have a clean environment. “I could find things easily...I could have people come to my home without feeling shame...I would feel healthy, safe and comfortable having a clean home, car and office...My life would be easier and simpler.”
I then asked her to describe how that would make her feel when all of this became true. She said; “I would feel proud and so much lighter...I would feel good about myself and have more confidence...I would feel wonderful and so happy...I would be FREE!” I suggested that she might also experience clarity, focus and peace of mind, to which she hardily agreed.
By compiling all of her phrases and words into her basic goal we had her “Ultimate Truth Statement” which looked like this: “I feel wonderful, light and free living in a healthy, neat and hygienic environment. My life is easy and joyful with a clean, tidy home. I have clarity, confidence, focus and peace of mind. And I’m happy, proud and eager now to invite people to my beautiful, clutter-free home.”
This was a statement Janice really loved! She was very excited about the possibility of achieving it. But she had doubts and fears in her way. One concern was wondering how she could possibly clear everything out and clean up the incredible chaos she lived in. The second issue was fear. She feared letting go of things (control), feared she’d throw something away she might need later (loss of control). She even feared that she could never even get started, much less finish. In a way, holding onto her fears, control issues and clutter was her way of holding on to her family!
We put aside the UTS for the moment to work on her fears and concerns. Then simply tapped them away. But one of the keys to this easy success with Janice was fixing the “Reversals” she had on letting go of her clutter. I define a Reversal as a “Subconscious Resistance to Change.” I’ve found that if you don’t neutralize the powerful subconscious part of you that wants to hold onto a problem, then letting it go is nearly impossible. Simply speaking, a Reversal is neutralized by tapping or rubbing a particular meridian called the “Karate Chop,” which is located on the fleshy side of the hand under the little finger.
For Janice, we tapped on the KC point saying what seemed to be a contradiction: “Even though I don’t want to let go of these fears, I love myself anyway...Even though, for whatever reason, I don’t really want a clean orderly environment...I still accept who I am.” Somehow just addressing an issue in this way magically neutralizes a Reversal.
To be clear, a Reversal Neutralization doesn’t fix a problem, it only fixes the impediment to fixing the problem (which is the subconscious resistance to change.) For Janice, just doing the Reversal Neutralization gave her some relief. It felt good to acknowledge the resistance she had felt but couldn’t express.
We then simply tapped away the fears: “Even though I have these fears about letting go of my clutter, I want to love and accept myself completely.”
After several rounds of tapping, Janice’s fears and concerns were completely gone. Now when reading her UTS, she felt the power and veracity of her statement...in spite of the reality of a mess in her home. It’s those positive feelings, projected toward what you want, that pull you toward where you want to be.
Janice could then state her UTS with absolute conviction, as if it were already true. I then had her tap on this statement, twice daily, just to reinforce her resolution. But she didn’t need to do that for long. Within a week she was completely clutter-free (with the help of several friends and hundreds of boxes of trash bags).
A couple of months later Janice reported how wonderful she was feeling. She now had focus, clarity, higher energy, motivation, confidence and happiness again. She also rejoiced at how she had more time, life was easier and she often enjoys having friends over. With those positive results to motivate her, Janice is maintaining an orderly, clutter-free life. And you can do it too.
Good Luck and Good Tapping.
P.S. This article is not meant to teach you how to do these processes, only to demonstrate this powerful method of dealing with clutter and hundreds of other issues.
Lindsay Kenny is a Life Coach, an EFT Master, and founder of both The National Alliance for Emotional Health and Progressive Emotional Release. She’s been helping people live more effective lives for over 35 years. Lindsay has a private practice and offers workshops in the San Francisco Bay Area and tele-seminars for participants from all over the world. She can be reached via e-mail at LKcoachingfirstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at 888-449-3030, or via her website at LKcoaching.com.