move past the clutter

Forgive me, I’m feeling a bit feisty today.

When I started MML and seriously began to design my life with intention, I focused on exfoliating items that I didn’t need, use, or love. And the content on MML reflected my clutter-free focus as well. But as I continued to pare down my possessions to those which were needed, useful, and loved, I had a revelation:

The clutter is only the weed, not the root of the problem.

Clutter-free is not the end-all be-all when it comes to having a life we love. It is just a sign that we might need to tend to matters that are much deeper than the stuff itself.

The same could be said with excess eating, drinking, shopping, or any addiction. Perpetual clutter can be a symptom of something more serious we need to work on. Just like Geenen Roth’s enlightenment, “it’s not about the stuff.”

And even if clutter is not an addiction (it wasn’t a serious problem in my life, for example) focus on it can still distract us from more important matters.

Getting rid of unnecessary things simply allows us to make physical and psychological space. That space then provides us the capacity to deal with the deeper issues that may be out of balance in our relationships, career, personal life, or spiritual life.

The real work we need to do is beyond our exfoliating and in the realms of thinking with intention, contribution, and love. Those are the things that will transform our quality of life.

So as much as I love a good exfoliation, I am more interested in our progress in the deeper aspects of our lives.


This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Margueri

    Yes! I always look to see where my worst clutter areas are (I have a few I need to deal with) and ask myself what those areas represent. Clutter is a symptom, not a cause.

  2. Myah

    I’m reading Women, Food, and God right now. I have laugh, sobbed, and learned SO much while reading it. This post was so awesome! I agree, stuff really is the weeds of the problem and not the root. Your blog pushes me to think deeper about my intentions and lifestyle as a whole. Keep it up Jess!

  3. Great post – clutter is one of my biggest problems….and something I really want to work on controlling this year!

  4. I’ve definitely noticed a link between my focus on major projects in my life and the amount of clutter surrounding me. The more physical clutter I have, the more mental clutter I have.

  5. Well said. Clutter is often symptomatic of deeper issues. I have been examining my relationship with “stuff” a lot lately, and I am really digging into what the stuff represents in my life. Most recently, I have been pondering “why I buy” and trying to come up with solutions to these habits. I’ve found that my “need” to feel prepared and to have options precipitates my urge to collect. The stuff is only the surface of the problem, and since the stuff is physically manageable, it is easy to idealize that once it is “taken care of” the problem is gone. I find the de-cluttering process (as positive and invigorating as it is) can also be a distraction.

    here’s what I have sorted out so far:

  6. Jess

    Thanks so much for all of your thoughts on it too! I think we can all agree with Lisa, the more clutter in our home, the more clutter in our minds.

    SEM, what a great way to really get to the “root” of the issue!

  7. Rebekah

    I’ve long taught this in mentoring relationships, and it’s my advice when parents ask me for help. Don’t focus on the behaviour, focus on what’s causing it. If you don’t deal with that, the issue will only go dormant to pop right back up again, or escalate. This is especially true of drug abuse.

  8. Cara

    Such a good reminder. And makes total sense since I seem to be de-cluttering the same areas over and over again (or at least it feels that way!). I have always been a believe in cleaning out the physical house always helps clean out the spiritual/mental house. Thanks!

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