ORCHESTRATING YOUR IDEAL, CLUTTER-FREE LIFESTYLE The process of identifying your core values and an ideal life- style — what you truly want to accomplish in life — cre- ates the desire for order, harmony, and a clutter-free residence and work space. The concept of an ideal lifestyle may prove con- fusing at first because you are so busy putting one foot in front of the other, making decisions throughout the day, and regularly tending to the more mundane aspects of life: work, housekeeping, errands, chauffeuring, cooking, shopping, and everyday tasks. Focusing on your loftiest and forgotten dreams and recognizing your aspirations is the beginning of an emotionally freeing and enlightening journey. You can experience as much difficulty talking about your innermost secret dreams and desires as you do discussing and 11 CLUTTER REMEDY-TEXT.indd 11 9/26/19 11:55 AM 12 THE CLUTTER REMEDY revealing your most difficult clutter challenges and the frus- trations that go along with staying organized. Having a messy, chaotic, and unpresentable home or workplace can cause deep embarrassment, conflicts, and mixed feelings. When your life goals and desires are not being fulfilled, talking about what you want most out of life can trigger feelings of confusion, regret, and sadness. Becoming open about all that you want is essential to knowing how to live an ideal and clutter-free life. Some people think they will be able to dig themselves out of their convoluted mess by themselves or with the help of family members. Ironically, fixating on the clutter derails them from fo- cusing on the inner challenges they face: the mess inside of them- selves. You are not alone with your clutter challenges. Clutter is an epidemic around the world, and fixing clutter starts by focus- ing on the inner self. THE CLUTTER CAMOUFLAGE Clutter can be mystifying at times, and you will notice that “declut- tering” methods are not the cure-all for feeling more optimistic about yourself or better about your life, especially because they rarely last. However, identifying and fulfilling life’s larger pur- pose successfully, and seeing your space and your clutter clearly, will help you maintain an organized space and a clutter-free life- style, one that sticks with you for good. What you don’t realize is that clutter is simply a camouflage for what you truly want in life. It conceals your dreams and goals. It makes it difficult to see what direction or path to take. Clutter camouflage blows you off course. It can lead to an unintentional and directionless life. You can literally be tripping, not only over your stuff, but over your life purpose as well. In Jeri’s case, tripping over books represented avoiding her dreams of being a writer. For years Jeri had talked about writing poetry, and she had CLUTTER REMEDY-TEXT.indd 12 9/26/19 11:55 AM Orchestrating Your Ideal, Clutter-Free Lifestyle 13 collected hundreds upon hundreds of poetry books, how-to guides, and an enormous amount of writing apparatuses. When I sug- gested she could open a small stationery shop, she laughed. Then we discussed the more serious side of things. Jeri had spent a lot of time and money collecting items that she believed would help make her a great writer. From all appearances, the contents of Jeri’s small apartment alluded to the idea that she was a fine writer or even a scholar. Yet the more Jeri collected, the less space she had to write. Her desk was unusable, since it was completely covered with books, paper, pens, journals, and highlighters. Jeri’s bookshelves were overloaded with books. Books were stacked on the floor and other flat surfaces, the couch, and in her bed- room. Most of her cabinets and drawers were filled to the brim with every possible writing tool imaginable. The more I looked around her space, the clearer the truth became: Jeri’s stuff was blocking her from writing and stomping out her dreams of be- coming a prolific poet. Jeri recognized that collecting and owning lots of stuff did not make her more creative. The thing Jeri valued most was self- expression, and she realized her focus was sharing her innermost thoughts about life, not collecting writing tools. By getting her goals straightened out and in clearing up her space, Jeri cleared a spot in her life for writing. She kept most of her stuff, both by uti- lizing the Clutter Remedy space-planning strategy and by adding a few more bookshelves and cabinets. Jeri kept everything that was useful, everything that served a purpose, sentimental items, and all the things she loved. Jeri’s place was whipped into shape, first by broadly categorizing everything she owned, then fine- tuning her items, and finally by finding the perfect containment and home for everything she cherished. Can you relate to Jeri’s situation by looking at what you’ve collected and never used? Is all the stuff you’re not using a sign that you are not “using” your inner gifts for loftier goals? CLUTTER REMEDY-TEXT.indd 13 9/26/19 11:55 AM 14 THE CLUTTER REMEDY You can go out and buy gadgets, supplies, ingredients, man- uals, equipment, electronics, information, and a surplus of prod- ucts, but if you don’t use them, are they a diversion from fulfilling your dreams or a way to fill the emptiness you have inside your- self? Possessions and material objects are not the seeds for growth and development. You know those objects do not define you as a person. You know things don’t make situations you desire hap- pen. Obviously, certain things are helpful, once you have the de- termination and know-how to accomplish your dreams and goals, but things don’t get you there, you do. STUFF IS JUST STUFF You know stuff is just stuff. It’s inanimate. It is not alive. Per- sonal effects do not have thoughts or feelings, but you may treat them like they do. Possessions can trigger feelings, but they do not create feelings within you. You know you want material objects around, otherwise you wouldn’t allow them in your space in the first place. If you didn’t love all your wares and worldly goods and you decided to live in an empty room with a minimal amount, I guarantee over time you would start to miss the things you once cherished. But you know the big stuff in life is not stuff. The big stuff in life is loved ones, health, happiness, and living the best life you can. Living with the basic essentials like a bed, lamps, chairs, a desk, a table, and a couch makes life livable, comfortable, and convenient. Living with shelves, cooking utensils, office supplies, kitchen and bath products, electronics, bedding and towels, toys, and hobby stuff makes life functional, active, and settling. Own- ing books, trinkets, jewelry, knickknacks, artwork, collections, clothes, and accessories creates an aesthetically pleasing, interest- ing, and special life. You love stuff for a reason; so there is no reason, at all, to struggle and stress over stuff — ever. CLUTTER REMEDY-TEXT.indd 14 9/26/19 11:55 AM Orchestrating Your Ideal, Clutter-Free Lifestyle 15 Cluttered environments are not caused by laziness, but rather the lack of a personal, proven strategy. Knowing how to deci- pher what is important and what is not, by using the Clear and Concise Criteria, prevents clutter from piling up and allows it to be easily processed. The most important thing about conquering clutter, and organizing mounds and pounds of stuff, is having a way to declutter easily, quickly, and efficiently. You don’t want to be looking for things you want to use; you want those things quickly and easily. You want your stuff when you want it, in a timely manner, so you will be on time for appointments, events, and meetings. You want things at your fingertips, or at the very least at arm’s length, to feel confident and at peace walking out the door or to be spontaneously creative. Your stuff is not sup- posed to be mysterious — lurking around corners, under the bed, hunted down, or hidden. Your stuff is supposed to be categorized, cherished, and in a special home all of its own. In cluttered environments, it is near impossible to concen- trate on the things that are important to you. The quandary over stuff mostly stems from not knowing and identifying what you value, what to keep, and how to store it all. Solving those three things ends your struggle with stuff immediately. The “tug of war” with stuff starts when things can’t be found, when things start to pile up, and when your space becomes full of unruly land- mines. I know you’re eager to get decluttered, but before you jump into all of the aerobics involved in space organizing, consider re- vealing to yourself how you created the clutter in the first place so you will stay organized long-term. Getting decluttered and hav- ing your space über-organized is not rocket science, but staying organized for good is. It takes some effort to look into your inner self and to cope with and emit any emotional clutter that is per- petuating outer clutter. Delving into your inner processes lights up your path to clarity. CLUTTER REMEDY-TEXT.indd 15 9/26/19 11:55 AM 16 THE CLUTTER REMEDY DEVELOPING AN ENLIGHTENED INNER SELF Organizing your inner self and your well-being is about the removal of any negativity, past wounds, and emotional blocks, coupled with becoming healthy and authentically happy, with a great attitude, and optimal communication skills. When your inner self is not organized, and you are without a clear sense of being, your surroundings will always be chaotic. That being said, no matter how disorganized you are, you will be able to get orga- nized with insight into your inner self. Even the most organized people have blips into a disorganized state but will recover quickly by noticing and rectifying self-defeating cluttering behavior. Per- haps the self-defeating behavior starts by placing a reminder on a bare kitchen counter, then a magazine finds its way on top of the reminder note, followed by collections of random and unrelated items. Meanwhile, a large lump of clothes begins to grow on the bedroom chair, waiting to be relocated to the closet. So, when you personally start to get wayward, something is more than likely going on with you internally for this ungovernable chaos to rise up. You will not eliminate moments of disorganization, but by having a specific home for everything you own and using the strategies and the steps you’re going to learn, you will recover to an organized state quickly and with ease. A systemic approach for a satisfying space, and understanding your stuff, is achieved by connecting to your inner self, dreams, interests, and goals, and learning to symbolize aggregated col- lections. Once you realize the deeper meaning to everything you own, what you love to do in life, and what makes life worth living, then, and only then, will you know what “good” stuff to keep around versus what is simply clutter. Your life purpose helps you understand what material objects are useful, purposeful, senti- mental, and loved. Investing in a peaceful, tranquil, orderly, and CLUTTER REMEDY-TEXT.indd 16 9/26/19 11:55 AM Orchestrating Your Ideal, Clutter-Free Lifestyle 17 sustainable strategy for decluttering comes from being self-aware and patient with the changes that will take place. The physical aspect of getting organized happens rapidly, yet the preparation internally takes thoughtfulness, tenacity, and strategizing. Ulti- mately, revealing to yourself what you love to do in life will help you understand what you love about your stuff versus what is simply cluttering your life. NO JUDGMENT: BE HONEST AND KIND WITH YOURSELF Decluttering effectively requires self-honesty, since the goal is to remove from your home whatever is inauthentic, out of date, and burying or blocking your authentic self and aspirations. As you do, little and big gems of understanding will fall into your lap, astounding and dazzling you. Clearing up hazy half-truths and stupefying, self-defeating behaviors clears the path to becoming a champion and builder of your empire. Ironically, one of the things people discover is how they could have fooled or misled themselves about their own lives, often with good intentions, yet in very unsettling ways. Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy are innocent, well-meaning untruths, but as a child I remember feeling a little squeamish when I realized I had been duped. Since then, it’s made me wonder: Do these early fictions teach us that it’s okay and sometimes preferred to lie and dupe ourselves? To tell “little white lies” or say yes when we want to say no? To pick a career that does not interest us because par- ents or society convince us that it is the only way to succeed? Or to choose a particular path because we think it will be the only thing we will be good at? Are we supposed to deny what we enjoy because others will judge us or we believe it’s wrong? When peo- ple are confused about what they want in life, the Clutter Remedy is an excellent process for recognizing personal truth. CLUTTER REMEDY-TEXT.indd 17 9/26/19 11:55 AM 18 THE CLUTTER REMEDY For this reason, I always advise people to approach declutter- ing from the stance of “no judgment.” See clearly, be honest, and avoid blame. Foster unconditional love and regard for yourself. Be kind, no matter what you discover. By going through this pro- cess, you’ve committed to remedying the accumulated clutter in your space, and this usually requires seeing and addressing your inner clutter: the issues, emotions, pain, and untruths that led to it. No one, including yourself, is allowed to judge you, criticize you, or complain about how much you own, how you collected it, or what you will keep. No one should be eyeing your stuff for themselves. It’s your stuff and nobody else’s business. Accepting your clutter as you find it, without feeling shame or regret, is the optimal stance. This will help you see more clearly and will help you recognize any negative patterns and attitudes that you will want to work through prior to going through all your stuff. Fo- cusing on blame and getting mired in judgment will only stress you out and bog you down. One thing that helps make the experience fun and uplifting is to remember that everything you own was chosen for a reason. You acquired things with good intentions; they were useful or they served a purpose or you simply loved them. So when you look at your possessions objectively, ask yourself, “Why is this in my real estate? Why did I think this was a good idea?” You could have chosen certain items because they reminded you of good times. Or they were expensive items that conveyed a certain sta- tus you desired. We buy and keep items for lots of reasons. Some items you find during decluttering will remain useful and serve a purpose and still be loved, while some will make no sense at all. Remaining nonjudgmental and enthusiastic rather than ashamed and befuddled over your stuff is easier when you see how it relates to your core values. Remember, the goal of decluttering is to cre- ate an organized, satisfying, and productive lifestyle. CLUTTER REMEDY-TEXT.indd 18 9/26/19 11:55 AM Orchestrating Your Ideal, Clutter-Free Lifestyle 19 DEFINING YOUR UNIQUE CORE VALUES Reflecting on what you truly value, and absorbing what your cur- rent life interests are, is the beginning and most important step to getting organized and knowing what to keep in your life. It’s a big deal and can feel daunting to articulate what you value in life. Before going through the decluttering process, ask yourself, “What do I love to do in life? What are my core values?” Delving into your personal world helps you understand your personal effects and how they align with your life. Do you value relationships, children, money, power, career, fame, indepen- dence, travel, sleep, appearance, health, and/or spirituality? To help identify what you truly want out of life, make a list of your top ten core values. For example, the core values you name could be intimacy, an ideal partner, relaxation, friendship, family time, optimal health, creativity, and a thriving business. They could include vacation time, increased income, particular hobbies, an ideal career, or an ideal social life. Figuring out the top ten things you value will motivate you to make changes and to get organized. For instance, if you long for a relationship leading to marriage and children, but you will not invite a new person to your tangled home, are you ready to go forward with a relationship? Or do you value your independence more? If you value rest and sleep, why is there an abundance of stuff on your bed, so much so that you sack out on a bumpy couch instead? If you value travel, why are your receipts and paperwork for your taxes buried all over your home, leaving you hesitant to spend money on a vacation? If you value expanding your busi- ness, why is your office and your company car filled with junk mail, papers, unpacked boxes, and yesterday’s dry cleaning? After naming ten core values, next make certain they reflect the aspirations that are most meaningful to you in your current CLUTTER REMEDY-TEXT.indd 19 9/26/19 11:55 AM 20 THE CLUTTER REMEDY life. Are they past desires, or what someone else wants for you, or things you believe you should value? You’re the only one who knows what you want out of life. Now memorize your top ten core values, and contemplate what your life would look like with those ten core values devel- oped and manifested in your life. Obviously, you want your val- ues to align with your capabilities and be achievable, but reach high and imagine your wildest and most extraordinary dreams at this very moment. Now make a strong wish to have the top ten values fulfilled. Ask for these wishes to become present in your life. Write each of your top ten values as goals, and write three specific ways you will fulfill each one of them. Create a timeline to achieve them. Values guide us in every aspect of our lives. Knowing your core values when choosing friends, a career, where to live, whether to have kids, how to raise kids, and what kind of home and lifestyle you want is key to getting what you truly want. Focus on what you want without focusing on the inconsis- tencies between where you are in your current life situation and what you want for your future. Paint a vivid picture of your ideal lifestyle. If you value good health, what would a healthy life- style look like? What food would you eat? What kind of exercise would you do, and how often would you do it? If you value good friends, how would you find them? What would you plan to do with them, and what would you talk about? If you value further- ing your career, how would you secure an interview? What kind of preparation would you make for the interview? How far would you be willing to travel? If you want a partner in life, how would you find them? What traits would you look for? What criteria would you have for an ideal partner? By defining what you value, and imagining your ideal life- style, you create goals and a vision to aspire to. This will help inspire the hard work it will take to become and stay organized. CLUTTER REMEDY-TEXT.indd 20 9/26/19 11:55 AM Orchestrating Your Ideal, Clutter-Free Lifestyle 21 You are giving yourself the freedom to create and enjoy the life you’ve always dreamed of. Yet know that lasting change requires strong motivation and willpower. Working on yourself before your space prepares you for the physical, emotional, and mental aspects of getting organized. It isn’t always easy to align what’s important to you with your actions, to create consistency in be- havior for the pursuit of happiness, peace, tranquility, and excite- ment in our everyday life. But the minute you write down goals, take time to focus on them and make them happen. Goals are not meant to stay on paper; they are meant to write your life story. Usually, being organized is not something someone will put on their top ten list of core values, but it is something everyone values to a certain degree. It will help inspire you to work harder on the decluttering process. Going from a so-so lifestyle to some- thing grander and more opulent is exceptionally easy when you understand it’s attainable by using your imagination and when you don’t let clutter get in the way of your vision. MAKING YOUR SECRET DREAMS AND ASPIRATIONS COME TRUE For a variety of reasons, you can resist talking about your dreams and life goals. Perhaps you think they are unrealistic or you don’t feel worthy. Yet revealing any secret dreams is important in order to accurately assess your belongings and clear them out of your space. Stuffing dreams down inside often leads to stuffing up your life with things that don’t enhance, but rather thwart, your current life from moving forward. Secret dreams may involve building an empire or becoming an actor, writer, athlete, singer, or dancer. People often never mention their secret dreams even to a partner, a family member, or their closest friends. Secret dreams float around in everyone ’s mind at some time or another. They could be about wanting to get married, leaving a relationship, or traveling to a CLUTTER REMEDY-TEXT.indd 21 9/26/19 11:55 AM 22 THE CLUTTER REMEDY faraway place. Secret dreams could be about quitting a job and having down time. When people don’t articulate their innermost desires, it’s as if they are building a wall to keep their dreams from escaping into reality. Whatever is true for you, this is the time to be the conductor of your own well-orchestrated life. Joan collected everything to do with horses. As a child she had dreamed of owning and riding horses, and in lieu of ever doing that she started collecting horse figurines, which as an adult she continued to display throughout her home. In adulthood, Joan started to buy equestrian clothing and equipment, such as stirrup pants, cowboy boots, hats, saddles, and horseshoes. Though she secretly held on to her childhood dreams and still fantasized about living an equestrian lifestyle, the only thing she did to pursue it was to collect more stuff. After Joan did an assessment of her current lifestyle, she realized she had thwarted and ignored her dream of being an equestrian. At first Joan thought the answer to her clutter challenge would mean getting rid of her horse col- lections, but after admitting her dreams out loud, she realized the opposite. Not only did she want to keep her stuff, but she began to actively pursue an equestrian lifestyle, which improved her life immensely. Joan found a horse she could afford and started rid- ing lessons, and soon she found a “cowboy” boyfriend to go line dancing with. She enjoyed and loved all her collections again and began regularly using her riding gear. Joan started volunteering with therapy horses and then teaching her grandkids how to ride, which became one of the most fulfilling dreams she could pursue. Emilio had always dreamed of being a champion tennis player, and when I met him, he had an overaccumulation of tennis gear, including twenty-two tennis rackets and closets filled with tennis clothes and shoes. However, he rarely played tennis. He did not exercise, practice, or meet with a tennis coach regularly. Most of his time was spent working to support his family and hanging out with his friends. CLUTTER REMEDY-TEXT.indd 22 9/26/19 11:55 AM Orchestrating Your Ideal, Clutter-Free Lifestyle 23 Emilio loved the idea of being a tennis star, and he entered a few tennis tournaments, but he never won. He did not have the physical stamina, technique, or discipline to practice for hours and hours every week. Emilio’s coaches told him he did not have the hand-eye coordination, balance, or timing it takes to be a great player. No matter what he was told, Emilio still believed he was going to be a professional tennis player, and he initially insisted on keeping all his tennis gear for his “future victories.” In truth, Emilio did not want to face his own disappointment over not achieving his tennis dreams. Over time, Emilio started to search for a new sport to enjoy and excel in. After much introspec- tion, Emilio discovered golf, which was much more in line with his particular athletic abilities. Emilio’s new passion and focus on golf helped him clear out all his tennis gear, which he donated to charity. In its place Emilio purchased a new golf wardrobe and golf equipment, and he made a point of only purchasing what he would use regularly, what served a purpose, and things he loved. He acknowledged overcollecting did not equate to excelling in something. The point of these stories is that making major changes in your life is not as important as feeling happy, enthusiastic, and productive. Changing is something you want to do or don’t want to do. When change is something you want, do it in small steps, with competence, and have a deadline to accomplish your goals. You don’t want to jump off the high dive when you haven’t learned how to swim well. Creating a world that is safe, econom- ically sound, and in harmony with your qualifications, proficien- cies, desires, and goals takes discipline, determination, planning, and follow-through. Getting a clear read on where you stand cur- rently helps you plan the future you want to achieve. Doing the next exercise will help you understand your current self better. When you understand your inner self better, you will understand everything in your life better, especially your clutter. CLUTTER REMEDY-TEXT.indd 23 9/26/19 11:55 AM 24 THE CLUTTER REMEDY CURRENT LIFE-STATUS INVENTORY Next, create what I call your “current life-status inventory,” which is your individual current life picture. Living your ideal lifestyle means taking a considerable look into your current one. This inventory helps you determine if you have settled for a less-than-ideal life. When you look at your current life on paper, you can come to realize that it is “dated,” like some of the old clothes and electronics you still own. You can realize you feel trapped, like some projects you stuffed away under the bed. You can have thoughts locked in your head that indicate you “don’t deserve anything better.” You could have adopted a steady and secure lifestyle in order to not “rock the boat.” Getting a base- line of your current life status helps you develop what you want now and for the future. Answering the nine questions below helps prepare you for the balance it takes to become perpetually organized. 1. Where do you live? Who do you live with? 2. Do you work? If so, where? 3. Are you happy or unhappy about the above situa- tions? Explain. 4. Who are you, and what are you about? What do you do in life? 5. What do you do for fun and/or relaxation? 6. Name the closest people in your life. Do they bring you happiness? Why or why not? 7. Briefly explain how well you are doing in the follow- ing areas: • Relationships • Mental health • Emotions • Physical health CLUTTER REMEDY-TEXT.indd 24 9/26/19 11:55 AM Orchestrating Your Ideal, Clutter-Free Lifestyle 25 • Social life • Money • Culture / beliefs about life 8. What are you doing to improve in or change about the above areas? 9. Which five positive feelings or emotions would you like to experience more often? Improving your life takes some digging around in places that are complex and painful. I won’t beat around the bush on that. A great life doesn’t magically happen. Inducing marvel, instead of stupor, in your life takes a plan of action and a bold trek into anything that will get in your way. Any past negative experiences that still cause you pain may not always be recognizable, unless you get real with parts of yourself that have gone by the wayside. There may be younger, wounded aspects of yourself you have buried and not dealt with. An ideal lifestyle is only as ideal as you make it, and it occurs when your emotional clutter is cleared and healed. RECOGNIZING AND HEALING PAST WOUNDS The most difficult emotions that arise during decluttering and organizing often relate to traumatic or hurtful incidents that hap- pened in the past. People don’t realize the connection between the past and the present since they believe they “got over” those past events years ago. However, emotional scars can be persistent and enduring. They don’t disappear, poof, all gone, just because we wish them away or say so. Painful events can stay with us and well up at the most inconvenient time. Sometimes people say they “got over” or “got past” things, but what they mean is that they ignored and buried the pain, believing that time alone would heal those wounds. As most people eventually learn, emotions don’t CLUTTER REMEDY-TEXT.indd 25 9/26/19 11:55 AM 26 THE CLUTTER REMEDY work this way. Instead, blocking and stuffing pain only defers our experience of it, and those feelings can blow up in our face at any given moment, blinding us, and send us heading for a fall. Expe- riences you put “behind” you will eventually chase you down. Healing takes both time and focused effort. It doesn’t happen on its own. Confronting clutter can trigger old wounds. When it is ap- proached willingly, by facing those wounds, it can lead to a cathartic experience through which you release the pain and suffering for good. This first means acknowledging and feeling your emotions, and no longer holding them in, and this may involve tears, crying, and expressing and expelling negative emotions in a curative and beneficial way. To get all of the angst and trauma out, you want to pull out pain by the roots. Clearing and Healing Strategy A great strategy for clearing up emotional clutter and healing any past trauma is what I call a “clearing and healing strategy.” This is a way to have inner communication with past parts of yourself. It starts by listing five of your most common negative emotions, those dark feelings you experience on a regular basis. Feel those emotions and remember when those awful feelings first started. Identify how old that part of yourself was. It could be a very young self or an older past part of yourself. Now visualize the image of your younger self, in your mind’s eye, and then project that image in the room with you. See that younger self as clearly as possible: How are they dressed? How is their hair styled? How are they sitting or standing? Then introduce yourself to your younger self, and share the good things about your life now, along with what is different from the past. Dialogue with your younger self. Ask them, “What do you think about that?” Listen for their answer; don’t think for them. CLUTTER REMEDY-TEXT.indd 26 9/26/19 11:55 AM Orchestrating Your Ideal, Clutter-Free Lifestyle 27 Then ask the younger self, “How are you doing?” Again, listen for their answer, and don’t be tempted to think of the answer in your head. The younger self will answer, reminding you of what hurt them. Reassure your younger self that whatever happened was not their fault, and while whatever happened was wrong, it is not happening anymore. Ask your younger self what they want from your adult self, and then fulfill their reasonable requests. Typically, the younger part wants to know that you are okay and that things turned out well in spite of their own distressing and disturbing experiences. Reassuring the younger self that you sur- vived those difficult times and are in a completely different stage of life will help your younger self move on and heal. Dealing with clutter and organizing your life often means dealing with the places where you are still stuck or struggling with past distressing memories. In this situation, your younger self will want to know that you are willing to work on healing the lingering angst created in the past. As you organize your space, it is important to let your wounded younger self know that you don’t want their help with the clutter. Indeed, assure them that you don’t want their help in any part of your current adult life. Once you help all your younger selves heal, tell them to “be free” and to “go have fun.” This technique of inner communication can also be used to heal unresolved wounds and conflicts with other people, partic- ularly those who have died or whom you can’t or don’t want to speak to directly. Simply visualize meeting these difficult or un- available people using your imagination, and communicate with them. Visualize a comfortable room with a mediator or neutral party who will help you work on a resolution. Discuss whatever unresolved and unfinished business you have with the person, ex- press any negative emotions, and share whatever insight you have about why certain things occurred. The goal is to have a cathartic release of pain and suffering CLUTTER REMEDY-TEXT.indd 27 9/26/19 11:55 AM 28 THE CLUTTER REMEDY in a loving, safe, and unconditional manner. This exercise takes focus and some time to get used to, but it provides insight into other people and your life in a nonthreatening way. It is a safe way to confront, understand, and forgive people who have hurt you or to communicate with people you have lost. Ultimately, the aim is to understand and heal any lingering confusion, hatred, shame, and remorse from past relationships, so that you have the emotional freedom to pursue your ideal life in the present. RECOGNIZING YOUR SPIRITUAL BELIEF SYSTEM Part of creating your ideal life means understanding your per- sonal beliefs and organizing your lifestyle in alignment with them. I believe that an organized healthy self, one focused on all aspects of wellness, includes one ’s belief system. I like to think of humans as spiritual beings in a physical experience. We are Soul. Soul is from one source, split off into creative sparks of light, carried by a current of sound into a physical body. I believe, at all times, our physical form is linked by a silver cord to the original source. Therefore, we have an inner resource of wisdom, connectivity, and power at all times. We have all the answers within for any challenges we face. You may give your philosophies, theories, and spiritual be- liefs a lot of thought, and they are firm and clear, or you may not think about them at all. Perhaps you ascribe to a particular reli- gious or spiritual path or you don’t. It’s also okay to move about in your ideas and thoughts until you have some awareness of who you are and life ’s deeper meaning is clear to you. Only you know what you believe in at any given moment. However, when you find yourself clueless or uncertain about your existence, I encour- age you to take the time to consider these questions and to ponder the larger meaning of life. This is part of being grounded in your CLUTTER REMEDY-TEXT.indd 28 9/26/19 11:55 AM Orchestrating Your Ideal, Clutter-Free Lifestyle 29 life ’s larger purpose in order to stay organized. Having awareness of who you are and your true purpose is one of the greatest gifts you will experience and share with others. Take a few moments to reflect on and answer these questions: • Do you believe in a higher power? Are you not sure? • Do you believe in an organized religion? A spiritual path? • Do you have a savior or a master you follow? • Do you believe in evolution? Are you agnostic or atheist? • Do you believe wholeheartedly in a specific doctrine, or do you have your own theories? Whatever you believe in helps you become clearer about yourself and what you value in life. An unclear spiritual path leads to an unclear physical environment, a bumpier road, and an un- deniable confusion about everything, including who to include in your life. DEVELOPING A POSITIVE SOCIAL SUPPORT SYSTEM Knowing how to evaluate and understand who will be great in your life and who will not is not always easy, especially when they are family, old friends, neighbors, and coworkers. There are many ways to determine who stays and who goes. Hurtful people create drama, affecting and impacting you on all levels, physically, men- tally, and emotionally. I always say, “Like attracts like,” so getting clarity on those you want in your life will help clear out the people you don’t want in your life. Some people can be considered “life clutter.” Befriending people with similar values makes life flow better. CLUTTER REMEDY-TEXT.indd 29 9/26/19 11:55 AM 30 THE CLUTTER REMEDY Running around with a wild party crowd when you’re introspec- tive or in recovery leads to misery. Staying home, isolated and alone, when you value the limelight will engulf you in sadness and despondency. Surrounding yourself with people who have con- flicting ideas and philosophies may be great in a debate, but it’s not great in your personal life. Being involved with unfavorable people is as damaging as living in clutter. Eliminating from your life any people with ill will is always a good idea. Establishing strong boundaries with people who rely on you too much, who are not reciprocal, and who do not have your best interest at heart is in your best interest. Communicating clearly with yourself and with other people will keep balance in all areas of your life, and being a clear communicator will ultimately make clearing your space so much easier and effective. As I discuss next, improving communication skills is the most intriguing part of clearing clutter from your life.