#95 What is the Clutter in Your Life Actually Costing You

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If you’ve ever heard yourself saying, I’m waiting until this happens, this stops, or that changes…then I’ll do what I want to do. You need to listen to this episode. 

Life is a dynamic, fluid thing and it never stops moving. But you can choose to check out, or you can struggle with figuring out to step back in after breast cancer treatment. 

In this episode you’ll learn how we avoid taking our life off hold, why it’s difficult to do and 5 steps to getting back to being engaged in your life after breast cancer. 


Sign up today for my FREE upcoming Webinar: How to Revive your Life After Breast Cancer


How decluttering your space could make you healthier and happier

The psychology of stuff and things

Minimalism Helped Me Find My Purpose, Passion and Self.




Read Full Transcript Below:

Hello and welcome...


Every month in my Empower membership we focus on a specific topic to create more feelings of empowerment, more space for self-care, more focus on connection and understanding what we need to support our healthiest and most fulfilling life.


So this month we are working on creating space for abundance. That means getting rid of clutter in your mind, your body, your relationships and your environment. 


As I was doing the research and preparation for this month’s lessons I thought...you know this is really important stuff to talk about. Especially as I come up on opening Revivify for enrollment and one of the foundational pillars of this program is release. 


So I wanted to talk with you today about the cost of clutter in your life. And I don’t just mean how much it costs to buy stuff. I mean what we’re thinking that leads us to accumulate more than we need or want in our bodies, our minds and our lives. 


Now even if you're a “neat freak" don’t stop listening because even actions like keeping your environment super clean and neat, can have roots in a cluttered mind. So stay with me, I bet there’s going to be a tidbit here for you too.


I’d like to start with a quote from the book, The Clutter busting handbook by Rita Emmett, she’s talking about the definition of clutter and how some people disagree on what clutter really is. I can certainly relate to that because some people like to collect things and they think of their collections as treasures while others might think of them as clutter. 


So I like how Emmett takes her idea a step further in her book as she says “stuff becomes clutter when

-It creates problems stress or embarrassment

-You don’t know what you have or you can’t find what you have

-It keeps you from using an intended area or thing for its intended purpose


-It impairs your ability to function.


I love this and here's how I see the crossover with her guidelines defining physical clutter and what I refer to as mental clutter.


1-if you have thoughts that create stress, anxiety or that you feel embarrassed to face or talk about- you have mental clutter


-If you have thoughts that are moving so fast, they keep you awake at night, it’s hard for you to stay focused on one thing, you dread being in silence because your mind is too much to be alone with- you have mental clutter


  • If your thoughts aren’t moving you toward your desired future vision of yourself,  supportive, productive relationships or bringing you a sense of peace, contentment or gratitude for life, you have mental clutter


  • If your thoughts impair your ability to function in a healthy and productive way -you have mental clutter


So let’s take a look at how mental clutter can result in physical clutter and vice versa.


The first thought that comes to mind as a perfect example of this is all the ways we should on ourselves.


There was a woman in my life many years ago who lived by every socially acceptable “should” that had ever been taught to her. 


At the point when she was in her mid-fifties through her mid-sixties. 

When I would go to her home it was almost unbearable for me because there was not a clear space in the entire house. 

The dining room table was covered, the chairs were stacked with things, and even the refrigerator was so full of food, half of it on the verge of spoiling or already turned.


Some of her bedroom doors only open a crack because there was so much piled on the other side of the doors.


The interesting thing is much of her space was filled with things she believed she should save because her children...who were long since grown and out of the house had made them, or someone had given her a gift which she often remarked on how much she disliked however it was the polite thing to keep it and to display it in her home in case they came over at some point.


I could go on but I won’t because I’m sure you get the point. Her thoughts of what she should do, should keep, should have, and were so full in her brain that they reflected in her home. And her home was so uncomfortable I can only imagine how uncomfortable her mind was.


And that’s what we want to get past, the discomfort caused by our own thoughts.


Thoughts like I should do this, I’m a horrible person, I should be grateful rather than frustrated, I should be happy but the truth is I’m not so I keep buying crap that I don’t need that creates more work for me to clean, manage, work around and worse yet keeps sending signals to my brain that I need to clean things up which makes me feel guilty and reinforces the thought that I’m a bad person! 


What a mess….literally...pun intended!


In an article published by the British psychological society called the psychology of stuff and things, I found this excerpt to be fascinating;

2 researches conducted in depth interview with 13 mothers and found that those who were labeled keepers, had a hard time disposing of their children's possessions and used different tactics to hold on to them as long as possible because they felt guilty  getting rid of them, while on the other end of the spectrum, those labeled as Discarders, by contrast felt guilty because they didn’t feel a need to hold on to their children’s possessions but they believed mothers were expected to feel connected  and  to keep things in order to preserve their children’s identities


Isn’t that interesting...preserving someone’s identity in a form that no longer exists. 


We perceive stuff as a reflection of not only those we love but of ourselves. That’s why our home environment is often a reflection of what’s happening within us. 


When we have thoughts of fear and scarcity, we hold on to things because we fear they might not be there when we need them


We hold on to the idea of who we were before breast cancer because we fear if we aren’t that person anymore, if we don’t feel and look and think and desire the same way then who are we? Are we lost? Are we wrong for feeling different? Are we bad or selfish or ungrateful because we find ourselves feeling things other than what people tell us we should be feeling?


That right there is the reason that release is the first pillar of recovery in REVIVIFY. 


Just like letting go of physical possessions creates space for a different flow of energy, and a sense of ease and relaxation and comfort in your space, the same thing happens when you learn to let go of the expectations, the shoulds and the self-judgments that clutter your brain and fill the space that needs to be free to allow the flow of creativity, and the sense of peace and contentment in your mind.


It’s really fascinating to consider how our body, mind and environment are so deeply entwined. 


I’ve used a simple exercise on the podcast before to illustrate how our thoughts create emotions. 


If you bring to mind one of the happiest moments you can think of and you notice the physical sensations in your body at that moment you’ll feel some pretty great things, lightness, excitement, inspiration, passion…


And if in the next moment you focus on the worst, most traumatic memory you can recall, you will make yourself feel horrible, sick, like throwing up or you may even be reduced to tears.


That is how powerful your thoughts are. And that is why it can be so hard to let go of things, from physical stuff to engrained thought patterns. 


Let’s apply that same exercise to your stuff


Think about your closet, attic, garage, junk drawer, even your purse….whatever space you keep the ‘I might need this someday” things.


Now imagine that I was standing there with you right now, having no emotional connection to your stuff and saying to you OK girl let’s purge

What do you feel come up immediately? 


Resistance, Anxiety, fear, panic, invasion of privacy...what emotions begin to erupt?


Our stuff, our bodies and the environment we create to live in are all tied to the way we think, to our reflection and perception of ourselves, to our feelings of security and belonging in this universe, and to how we feel about our life in this moment. 


When we lose something that we are not ready to lose, something that we perceive as a part of our identity, or our idea of how things should be... like a breast, it’s traumatizing and if we don’t work to come to terms with how the thoughts surrounding that trauma are impacting our life, we can find ourselves very stuck and unable to get a sense of clarity or future thinking. 


I had a lovely woman in REVIVIFY and we were on a coaching call as she was working through the exercises in the Release module and she told me that she had realized that she was struggling so much emotionally over the loss of her breast because that particular breast was what she had always called her chocolate milk side. 


It was the breast her children had preferred to nurse on and that experience of nursing them was such a special time and held such loving memories and now she felt that had been taken from her….that powerful. 


But it was in her recognizing that, that she could start working through those thoughts and begin healing.


Now on the one hand there’s wanting to hold onto things because the way you think about them might bring you a sense of security. 


And on the other hand is the experience of surviving breast cancer, coming out of treatment, feeling like you’re ready to start a new chapter of your life, needing to purge and then, like the discarding mothers in the story I shared a minute ago, feeling guilty because you don’t want the stuff you either perceived as meaningful at one point or struggling because you’ve changed, but the loved ones who share your space and your stuff haven’t. 


They’re still hanging out in their comfort zone and you’re feeling like 

Saying, “People open your eyes, life is short, this stuff doesn't mean anything and you can’t understand why they don’t get it.


A common experience after going through a life changing trauma is feeling the need to purge so that you create the space for a fresh start. 


That’s why when I work with my ladies I don’t call the work of clearing clutter, cleaning out your junk. I call it creating space for abundance. 


It’s not an exercise in loss but an exercise in creating something new, space for potential, room for growth. And in the process of clearing out the physical clutter you cannot avoid facing the thoughts that had you holding on to begin with.


I’ll share a personal story with you

About two years ago my husband and I sold our home, the youngest of our kids moved out to go to college and we moved from a 2500 sq. ft. 4 bedroom home with a big yard, a garage a shed and an attic to a 1500 square foot 2 bedroom condo. 


Now the condo was in our dream location but it has no yard, no garage and I will not pay for a storage unit. 


So whatever we decided to keep had to fit in our home or in the small cabinet that is in our parking area. 


Now I don’t consider myself a collector, but I love books. Love them. I love to read, I love to listen to books, take courses, be around books. 

When my kids were younger and they would go to their dad’s house on some weekends. I would go to Barnes and Noble, buy a mocha from Starbucks and spend the evening reading books. My dad would say that being in a bookstore would make me happier than a pig in shit...and that would not be a lie.


So when we went to move, I had cabinets and cases and shelves of books that I had to let go of. I have one small bookcase in my home now and I can only fit those ones that are the most important to me. 


That was a tough process. Because to some extent I see books and being a lifetime learner as a part of who I am.


I’m not gonna lie, I told my husband he had to stay out of my way and needed to have time to go through my books and let them go. It was a process for me and what it came down to it I had to realize that my core belief is that the universe provides what is needed when it is needed. 


Me holding onto things I wasn't using was clogging that flow of living in the present moment and I had to ask myself do I really believe that? Do I really trust in life and the universe or is that just what I want to think?


And the truth is I do trust. And I came to a place where I said I've put aside what I use and value the most. I'm boxing everything else, taking it to the library and trusting that someone else will benefit from it more than I am.

The knowledge and the experience of the books and the stories was already a part of me and the physical manifestation, the book itself was just a past experience that I needed to let go of. Just like the pants that fit me when I was 30 that I kept saying I’ll get into one day. That is the person I was30 years ago, today the person that I am fits into a different size pants and if the future version of me becomes smaller, I’ll fit into a future pair of pants. I don’t need to go back, I’m only interested in moving forward in this life.


And you know what, I’m fine, I don’t pine over what I gave away and I don’t worry over what I don’t have stored here. I live in the moment and I know I have everything I need and I always will.


So when it comes to holding on to anything, physical or emotional I come back to what is my core belief about this life, and are my action and the environment I create for myself aligned with that belief 


So let me give you some steps on taking action in your life to clear clutter in your mind and your world.


First- where is your clutter?

Make a list:

  • Is it in your head?
  • Your body?
  • Your home?
  • Your closet?
  • Your garage?
  • Your relationships?
  • Your commitments?
  • Your calendar?


Where is there so much going on that you are not using that resource in the way it was intended because it is overfilled?


Now, look at your list and prioritize it from the smallest to the biggest thing.

I suggest you start with clearing the small physical clutter because as you clear the physical stuff, the emotional stuff will come up. 


If you have a really big list, or if you have a really small list with really big things on it, decide on the amount of time you will spend each day or each week chipping away at that list from the smallest to biggest challenge. This way you can see your accomplishments without overwhelming or disappointing yourself.


 You don’t have to get it done today, you just have to spend the 15 minutes you committed to on it. Every small change adds up until it becomes a transformation.


I love this quote from an article I read on  www.becomingminimalist.com,

the author, Jessica Malone shares her story of how she shed the beliefs and expectations that she had assumed through her life to discover the freedom of living with only what she needed and experiencing the lifestyle she loves.


In that article she said, “Clearing the space taught me how to recognize what I love, what I fear, and who I am. While I’ve cleared a lot of stuff, it was never really about that. It was always about what the stuff represents. 


Recognize the transformation that is happening within you and give yourself permission to let that reflect around you.


If you would like more support with that or anything else in your breast cancer recovery

Join the webinar thebreastcancerrecoverycoach.com/Revive


Breast Cancer Recovery Group is here to ask you questions and share resources that help you declutter your life.


Revivify...enrollment opens tomorrow!


Until next time. 


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