Have you ever felt so discouraged, your life so out-of-control, the universe so unresponsive to your needs and desires, that you couldn't help it: you just had to clean up? By paying attention to these impulses we recognize the deep connection between our personal environment and our innermost selves. It's as though by shifting the arrangement of our belongings we hope to rearrange the molecules of our emotional lives as well.
Feng shui teaches us that our spaces both reflect and affect our physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. When our homes become cluttered and disordered, other aspects of our lives tend to feel gridlocked as well. It's a chicken-and-egg kind of situation. Not only does a cluttered home reflect a distracted and cluttered mind, it also makes it hard to focus and think clearly. It gets easier and easier to stop making the item-by-item decisions that could put you back in control of the mess and help you to feel more in control of your life.
Eventually, we give up. The task seems overwhelming, and the clutter is so pervasive that we can't figure out where to begin. We slog through our days thinking "someday when I have the time I've got to clean this up." Clutter clearing becomes an abstract goal that awaits a mythical future time when our calendars will be free of obligations, we will awaken one weekend morning well-rested and energized, and mysteriously through some unseen grace we will have acquired the focused clarity and enthusiasm that will finally inspire us to dive in and get it done. We wait for the moment to be right before we begin, so beginning never happens.
We're approaching the clutter challenge backwards when we think this way. Regaining a sense of clarity and order is more easily achieved by putting our space in order than by trying to order and control our thoughts in a disorganized space.
Clutter saps your energy and erodes your spirit. Clutter makes it difficult to get things done, enjoy peace and quiet, or spend time the way you really want to. It adds to your stress, slows you down and drains your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual strength. Clutter is disempowering.
In feng shui terms, clutter is both a symptom and a cause of stuck energy. Opening the dictionary we see that "clutter" derives from the Old English word "clott", which means: "to cause to become blocked or obscured." Like a blood clot blocking circulation in our veins, clutter prevents energy from circulating through our homes and our lives.
As a feng shui consultant, I have worked with many clients who complain of feeling creatively or professionally blocked, or who bemoan the lack of a sense of purpose or direction in life. What I usually find in their homes are lots of things that don't reflect their personality or future aspirations. These people are surrounded by objects that have been allowed to wander in unchecked at the door or that linger on the shelf long after the relevant stage of life is past.
On an energetic level, all this stuff is preventing a clear vision of self. Anything that is neglected, unwanted, or unappealing to you will drag your energy down every time you look at it. Even a beautiful object of great value does nothing for you or your home if you don't like it. This is why we include "anything that you do not love" in a holistic definition of clutter.
Everything that surrounds you should be working for you in some way. If the things in your space are not supporting you and contributing to the positive quality of your life, it is time to do something about it!
The defeat, fatigue, and depression that you feel when you think about your clutter will start to evaporate as soon as you put yourself in action. The hard part is getting started, but once you do the magic will begin.
Clutter-clearing creates space for us to discover our true path in life and to define who we want to become. With this new vision we can consciously choose to surround ourselves with objects and imagery that reflect and support our authentic concept of self.
© 2003 Stephanie Roberts
Stephanie Roberts is the author of "Fast Feng Shui: 9 Simple Principles for Transforming Your Life by Energizing Your Home", a #1 most popular feng shui book at Amazon.com.