If we apply the Pareto Principle to our possessions, then we can conclude that we only actually use just 20% of the things we own. This means that 80% of the things we have in our homes are just there for storage or display. Oh, the majority of our stuff probably had their uses back in the day, but now they’re just sitting junk. And yet we keep on buying and accumulating more things, as if we don’t notice that our homes have started to resemble a warehouse or a department store chain.
Why do we like clutter so much?
Many experts agree that clutter is not just about things that are external to a person. In fact, most psychologists will argue that clutter — whether at home, at work or within a social setting — is a symptom of disarray within. Clutter may be a signal for emotional stuckness or even inner turmoil. In some cases, it’s a symptom of confusion, procrastination and indecisiveness.
The following are some of the common theories why some people will not get rid of the mounting mess in their home:
Fear of change. Organizing one’s possessions, in a way, is a metaphor for starting over. You let go of the stuff that you don’t need, you fix what you have the best way that you can, and you make room for what the future will bring. But if you’re still at a stage when you don’t want to let go or move forward, then staying within the mess of the status quo can be comforting. This applies especially when the clutter is caused by holding on to objects that are connected to significant memories.
Perfectionism. Ironically, clutter at home can also be caused by a desire to do a great job. Sometimes we do want to organize our environment, but we’re afraid we might fail, so we delay by waiting for “the right time,” the stage when we have “the right resources.” We experience anxiety when even thinking about trying, and so we just stay where we are.
Lack of Awareness. In some cases, we stick with clutter because it is the only “system” that we know. This can happen if both of our parents are not really organized individuals, and we never had a mentor to teach us of other ways of doing things. We may not even realize that we are losing out on the benefits of living a simple and deliberate lifestyle.
Take steps to overcome the clutter in your life by living with awareness of what surrounds you. Does it bring you real joy or does it just mask what you don’t want to feel or experience. Live with purpose and joy by making a plan.