Let’s Underwhelm Your Overwhelm!

November 17, 2009

“My clutter overwhelms me!”  “I can’t even start to clear my clutter, it just too much!”  “My clutter has all the power, and I feel powerless!”  These are statements I have heard consistently from clients and class participants over the years.  Perhaps you have struggled with overwhelm, too.  There is a way through this all-encompassing, overpowering feeling.  So, let me share a few ideas that may help you.

First, remember this feeling of “overwhelm” is just a feeling.  It’s YOUR perspective on the situation.  What’s a feeling?  It’s a subjective response—a choice of how you view a situation.  So, if you choose to be overwhelmed by your clutter, could you also choose to be eager, excited, or enthusiastic about letting it go? 

Shift Your Focus

What if you shifted your focus from the heaviness of your clutter to the lightness of space you can create?  What if you spent time envisioning what your space will look like?  What feelings are conjured up for you now?  Aren’t they better than those dark, deadening feelings of overwhelm?  Making a conscious effort to replace your overwhelm every time it pops up with excitement for the space you want to create will help you launch your clutter clearing campaign. 

I remember when I rented a storage unit and filled it with my deceased mother’s possessions–possessions I felt I needed to keep in order to keep her spirit alive.  I rented that unit for 9 years and visited it twice!  Every time I thought about the stuff in my storage unit, I got overwhelmed.  Somewhere, somehow, in the ninth year of storage, a feeling to take action welled up in me. 

I finally had the energy to address my mother’s stuff.  It was time to empty the unit!  Of course, the mounting storage fees played a role, too, but, more importantly, my feelings about holding on to her stuff had shifted.  What if I had made a conscious effort when I chose to acquire my mother’s stuff to view it differently?  Maybe I would have let go of her stuff sooner or never chosen to take it in the first place.  What overshadowed my decision making was the overwhelming feeling of grief—a feeling I let incubate for a long time.    

Many of us spend a lot of time regurgitating the same old limiting thoughts.  These limiting thoughts actually create a groove in the brain etched deeper every time we think them.  Eventually the groove is so deep, we find ourselves out of balance and wonder what happened.

If you are reading this blog, I suspect you can identify with this feeling of overwhelm, especially when it comes to your clutter.  I also suspect you are getting ready to address your clutter.   If that’s the case, then get in touch with those uneasy feelings stirring within you.  Boldly ask yourself, “What is this feeling of overwhelm all about?”

Think of your overwhelm as a cold chunk of clay.  It’s been a cold chunk for quite awhile.  Now imagine pounding it and molding it into a shape attractive to you.  Now the clay is warm and supple.  You decide you didn’t like your first shape, so you mold it into another one.  Notice how much easier it is to change the shape after you started working with it. 

Play with Your Feelings

You can do the same with your overwhelm.  Start working with it.  Play with it.  Draw it.  Have fun with it.  After a while it won’t have such a hold on you.  You’ll want to replace it with something else—maybe with the excitement about the space you’re going to create.  Once your feelings are transformed, you’ll have the energy to start clearing your clutter. 

And remember, you don’t have to clear all your clutter in one day.  It took time to acquire your stuff.  It will take time to release it.  Consider the five-minute rule:  Take five minutes every day to clear your clutter.   Silly as this may sound, five minutes often goes into 10 or 15.   

By making a commitment to yourself, you start shifting those limiting thoughts to creative ones.  “To whom can I give this item?  Why do I need this piece of paper?  Where can I donate my ball gown?”  Your feeling of overwhelm will disappear.  Clearing that neglected room starts being fun.  Most importantly, you’ll tap into the joy of your own transformation.  Let’s underwhelm your overwhelm!

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