Three thought patterns that create clutter

Got clutter? Who doesn’t? We all fall prey to the suffocating effects of having too much of what doesn’t serve a purpose.

When I meet with clients one thing I hear often is that they have no idea how the clutter happened in the first place. That perhaps somehow clutter fairies dropped in, in the middle of the night, and left…stuff.  Of course, that is not how happens. But clutter does happen, and it can happen very quickly.

Why do we get cluttered?

Well, for starters we don’t question what comes in. We let in more and more without regard to whether we really need it, like it, or will use it. We don’t look for any indication of whether it serves a purpose. And when we let things in without any strict criteria we often and easily end up with too much.

The other reason is we let in things without regard to where things should be housed. Or whether we have the space at all for it. When things come in with no clear home, they pile up. And that gives clutter a fighting chance.

There are 3 thought patterns that contribute to why we bring in more.

Understanding them and seeing if any resonate with you is a good way to change unhelpful behaviors and stop clutter from taking up valuable space in your place.

1. Emotional avoidance.

Ask yourself: are you emotionally avoiding something and buying or keeping things because it is more of a dopamine hit and makes you feel good? You wouldn’t be alone in feeling that. A lot of people do. Perhaps you buy more because you think it will solve a problem or at the least will distract you from dealing with a problem? While scary, it is better to look and dig deep into why you need the distraction. It is better to face the fear. Otherwise, you end up with more stuff that in the long run will create an entirely new set of problems.

2. Comparison.

You aren’t the only one who has this unhelpful thought pattern. We all do a lot of comparing ourselves to other people. Social media is one major root of this. All media, in fact, contributes. You get so much information, so quickly, but you can’t process it, or slow yourself down enough to ground yourself and make meaning of it. You can’t sort out what is mentally essential to keep. That instinct to compare yourself can often cause you to buy more as a way to keep up with what others have. You, like many others, make the mistake of seeing what others have on Instagram or Facebook, or in advertisements on television, and believing that these people are happy because of those things.

The reality is happiness doesn’t come from things. We would all be better served by remembering that.

3. Scarcity thought process.

I have also heard this described as a poverty mentality. It is living your life in unnecessary scarcity and fear and can lead you to make poor decisions about the possessions you keep or bring into your home.

The scarcity mindset gives you an excuse to hang onto random possessions. It can lead you to believe there will never be enough of what you want or need. And this stems from having a “lack of” mentality. You never feel what you have is enough. And often, you feel you are not enough. With a scarcity thought process you constantly think you might someday need something and won’t be able to get it. You get pulled in by marketing messages that tell you “now is the time to buy this because it won’t be here tomorrow.” So you to buy it now or buy more now, or hang onto more than you need. You don’t question whether buying more or keeping things “just in case” solves any real problem.

Think about these thought processes and see if any resonate. The more you understand your tendencies, the more you’ll be able to change the patterns and live a clutter-free life you love.

Showing 8 comments
  • Phelps Jacquelyn

    I still like “poverty avoidance”. Stuff helps us overcome that fear. However, it is the wrong way to go about conquering the anxiety. I am so guilty of this. Every now and then, I look at Amazon and decide I want some “thing” on the page. Then, I ask myself if I really need it. The answer is always NO!

    • Francesca

      Good on you Jacquelyn for asking – and then answering honestly! It’s a great way to keep clutter at bay. 🙂

  • Rosemary Verri

    Such a good piece. And by the way, I heard Les Brown live when he was first starting out, a newbie, at one of our speaker conventions. He was spectacular – sure, his message – and his whole style of presentation. We figured, oh yes, he will make it!

    • Francesca

      I love Les Brown. Such an inspiration! Like you…

  • Traci D'Antonio

    I’ve always been very good at letting go of material things. What I struggle with is the fact that I keep on consuming more and more. Lately though, when I come home from shopping I find myself instantly asking myself, “why did I buy this?” Feeling a drudgery when finding a home for my new stuff. I’ve learned that what I’m really trying to buy is a feeling, hoping to purchase something that makes me sophisticated, confident and beautiful. I’m slowly figuring out that I don’t need any one thing to be perfectly whole.
    Thanks for your excellent blog. I always enjoy it.

    • Francesca

      Traci! Good on you for questioning instantly. It is a bit key to shifting the behavior. And it sounds like you have hit on the head your reasons for some of your shopping habits. I think you are not alone in those feelings and knowing your “why” is more than half the battle. <3

      • Francesca

        One more thing: You are sophisticated, confident, and beautiful. Keep affirming your worth. <3 Thank you for reading!

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