I am not a doctor. I am providing information based on experiences that my mom has with natural remedies. The purpose of this blog is to help folks to educate themselves. Use this information with your own discernment.

22 January 2010

The Negative Effects of Clutter

The majority of people that I know have clutter issues.  We try like hell to keep things neat and orderly but for some reason as soon as a spot is clean, it's like an invitation for some "stuff" to join the beginnings of a clutter party.

It all starts with one little item.  It could be as small as a paperclip or a piece of paper.  All it takes is one person to put something down and it becomes an invitation for more stuff.  It's almost as though having the item on the counter, even the small piece of paper, is like putting out a calling card for more stuff to join it.

I've wondered about this phenomenon for years.

I am one of 5 kids and we lived in a small house.  It was almost impossible to keep the house clean because as soon as something was cleaned, someone would come home and put whatever they had in their hands on the cleaned surface.  The invitation for more clutter, just waiting for the next person to come along and neatly place their item in a neat pile on top of the thing already on the flat surface.

Let the Clutter Begin!

When I lived alone, I swore there were gremlins that came in and put stuff down on areas that I had just cleaned, but soon realized I was the gremlin.  I was creating the mess.

It was easier to take control of clutter when I was alone.  Living with a house full of people, even just one other person, makes it difficult to keep clutter under control.  Everyone has their own clutter thoughts that manifests into our environment.  The more people in your household, the greater the clutter issue.


I like to analyze everything in life, especially stuff like clutter.  What's the underlying cause of clutter?  We are the clutter bugs, we are the ones who can keep it under control or not.

Do you ever find yourself able to keep the clutter under control and then at other times, you feel like taking out the big industrial trash bags and filling them with every item in your house?  Holding the thought that if you don't have stuff you can't have clutter!

Unfortunately, I find that clutter comes from how I am thinking.  When I am scattered, tired and lack focus, I have clutter issues because my thoughts are cluttered.  On the outside, the cluttered thinking begins to manifest into piles of papers.  Dishes, as hard as we try, always end up in the sink. 

Dishes in the sink are a great way to take the pulse on your thinking.  It allows you to see this theory of clutter attracting more clutter.  Put one spoon in a cleaned sink.  Even if you live with yourself and no one else, you will find yourself putting another dirty item in the sink next to it.  It seems to be human nature, but really it's a way to see how you are thinking.

For me, I was having 'a dishes in the sink battle' for weeks.  I'd clean all the dishes, load and start the dishwasher and walk away.  I'd come back with more dishes or glasses in the sink!  It got to the point where it happened so much that I started to think about the negative effects of clutter. 

How can I stop it?

Looking within my own mind, I realized that my thoughts are cluttered.  I was fighting a battle that I wasn't going to win until I got to the root of my problem, me.  I control everything about my life, even the clutter. 

We control clutter through our thoughts.

I asked myself, "Sue, how are you thinking?  What thoughts are you holding? Are these thoughts helping you to move closer to the life of your dreams?" 

My thoughts are the things that cause problems for me, as they do everyone else.   What we think today, fills our tomorrow. 

I like to use an analogy about closets to explain the negative effects of clutter.  Our closets hold the key to our mental state of being.  If our closets are jam packed with stuff, there's no room to hold anything new.  Same with thoughts.  If we keep our minds focused on thoughts that clutter, we will never have room for any new ideas, new thoughts that will bring us closer to creating or maintaining the life we chose for ourselves.

First Step:  Identify your cluttered thinking. 

Ask yourself, what thoughts do I keep having over and over again?  For me it was a messy dinning room.  I never finished the clean up from Christmas.  I had decorations on the table, waiting to be put away.  I thought about this mess and cleaning it for weeks.  It brought me down.  It made me feel icky and I didn't know why.  I found myself staying out of the room.  If I could shut the door, I would. 

Yesterday, as crappy as I was feeling, I knew I needed to muster up the strength and get that room cleaned.  I did.  I knew it would make me feel better.

What happened is I couldn't stop cleaning.  It was as though my motor was primed and I was moving.  I was a woman on a mission, to get the dirt and errase the clutter.

I organized my mom's closet.  She has a tendency to put dirty cloths in with clean cloths.  She mixes socks and underwear, shirts and pants.  No wonder she thinks her hallucinations are stealing all of her things! 

I've noticed that the cluttered closet made my mom nasty.  So much so that yesterday, she turned into one of my sisters, the sister who isn't speaking to me.  Instead of reacting, oh how I could have... I decided to clean the clutter in her closet and her room.  I thought I'd give this Universal Law a whirl... clean the clutter and my mom will be more herself than my angry sister.

Her room, I gave it a huge cleaning, even the carpets were cleaned.  It brightened the room and made it feel lighter.  The energy was calm.  Peace was once again in my mom's room.  The angry wrinkles in her forehead softened.  She was more agreeable and pleasant. 

I don't know if her change in behavior was because the clutter was removed from her living space or if she just likes Susie the Night Nurse better than the Sue that cares for her during the day.

The negative effects of clutter go deep.  Clutter works in stealth mode.  We don't recognize it because it happens gradually.  We begin to feel ourselves feeling restless and wondering why we feel so crappy.  If you find yourself aggitated and not sure why, look around your work space... your living space.  Is it cluttered?  If it is, maybe get out some of those industrial strength trash bags and go to town on the clutter and erase the negative effects of clutter in your life.

You will feel liberated.  Once your environment is decluttered, your thinking will be less cluttered.  Thoughts will flow more easily.  You won't keep thinking of the same task over and over again, cluttering your thoughts.

Just do it and see.  You have everything to gain from erasing the negative effects of clutter in every aspect of your life. 


  1. Hi Susan - My first visit to your blog. What a lot you have to deal with, yet you took the time to write something that can truly help other people. I think of myself as being pretty on top of the clutter, but after reading your words I can see I have a lot of room for improvement. My life has felt stuck lately, and come t think of it I have a basement and attic full of stuff I need to let go of. This will be the year - thanks for the inspiration and sharing your positive outlook on life, even when the going is tough. Bon courage!

  2. So so true. I feel better when things are neat, tidy and in order.

    Years of living with the worst neat freak I know a.k.a my mother instilled it in me...

    thanks MOMMA

  3. Hi Kim... Thank you for stopping in and reading my blog.

    Writing helps me to be a better care giver to my mom and provides me peace.

    When I write, it helps me to get my head around the issue, making it much easier to solve.

    Thanks again for stopping in and reading my blog.

  4. Roschelle... you are so fortunate to have had a neat freak for a mom! My mom, she was never neat. She tried but with 5 kids, our little friends and my dad, I think she gave up on cleaning.

    She spent a lot of time taking us out for walks downtown, she loved to walk. I think she had the belief that the mess wasn't going anywhere, it would be there when she returned.

  5. ::raises hand:: My name is Arielle and I'm a clutter bug too. :) I'm not MESSY, per say - not dirty or sloppy - just clutter-y. It is partly about control for sure. I am a recovered anorexic and I know all about that x 10. Haha. But for me, it's also about sentimentality... about letting go (or actually, about not letting go), it's about doing a lot all at once (which you do as well), and about having many loves and interests.

    Writing helps me de-clutter. :)

    I agree that our thoughts create clutter. Definitely.

    This post is very introspective!