Posted by Sue on Dec 2, 2006
Looking at decluttering from another perspective.
The other day I was consulting in a beautiful old home. The room
that is used as an office for volunteer work was jam packed with stuff
from the past including a bureau filled with a grown up daughter’s
childhood items. The daughter has not lived in this home for 20 years.
I had been called in to help make that room manageable.
I found myself thinking in a sort of odd way about STUFF and it’s power to rule. So often the stuff of the past control a household despite the reality of the current needs It seems to me that at this point STUFF is in charge- perhaps even the dictator. I am not immune to this phenomenon.
So who’s in charge??? The other night for me it was the Wheat Thins.
I wasn’t the least bit hungry, had just come in from a wonderful movie “AKEELA and the Bee”, and was full of a sense of I CAN! I was focused on my goal of getting strong and healthy as I nearly skipped home from the movie.
When Bob and I decided to hang out on the sofa to read for a while, he brought along a box of Wheat Thins. I thought to myself, I’m not hungry, I won’t have any. I heard him munching but I was going to keep my promise to my future self.
It was my turn to read. Then it was Bob’s and suddenly I was munching away.
YOIKS! …when I think about it, those little crackers were now in charge.
They were telling me what action to take. I bet they felt quite victorious.
And how does this work with STUFF?
Well it’s not exactly the same but I think there is more similarity than one expects. Let’s go back to the room in discussion. Here’s a bureau with drawers that open and close nicely, filled with stuff from 20 years ago. No one uses the items in those drawers but they sit there very contentedly using space that could well be used for current supplies.
They are in charge so to speak.
Now-I’m not questioning keeping the stuff. For sure the daughter should be given the opportunity to have her say BUT- my client needs space for the work she does every day. She is dealing with all kinds of materials that need a place. I imagine the stuff saying, “Hah- I am here no matter what you need! I don’t really care about what you are trying to do. This is MY space! I’ve been here for a long time.”
Imagine your entire house. How much does the stuff in it have the final word?
Yes- truly, decluttering is about becoming the boss – about granting your work and your current priorities due importance. As in, “Hey- I believe in the work I am doing and it makes sense for me to be efficient. I have lots going on, so hey, I deserve this space. I will put this old stuff in a safe storage container. We will figure out what should happen with it soon but for now- my current work will have a good space!”
Try it out. Think about who’s in charge – you or the stuff, and see what happens.
For an excellent article on the command of stuff and it’s meaning in people’s lives see
From AARP Magazine Jan-Feb 2007.