Clare’s Clutter Clearing Story – No Support Network

Clare Clutter Clearing

I didn’t have a support network when I was clearing my clutter 20 years ago.

My parents didn’t understand why I struggled with my clutter. To them it was just ‘too much stuff’ and I needed to be ruthless and ‘get rid’ of most of it.

They didn’t understand that to me my ‘stuff’ represented safety and security. It was the physical boundary of my comfort zone that protected me from the big, bad world and I’d created it in response to never feeling truly safe – mentally, emotionally, financially.

Of course, even I didn’t have this level of self-awareness until I created my LIFE Timeline exercise when I started my Clutter Clearing Journey, so it’s hardly surprising I couldn’t explain to my parents WHY I couldn’t just ‘get rid’ of it and start again like they wanted me to.

Suffice to say, my parents – who were my most significant and intense relationship when I had my clutter challenge – couldn’t help me with motivation because neither they nor I understood my clutter challenge. This is probably part of the reason why I procrastinated for so long. I assumed that they were right and that eventually I’d have to just ‘get rid of’ my clutter and start again, something I was prepared to procrastinate over doing indefinitely.

When I finally reached my True Turning Point on Millennium Eve, I realised I was going to have to figure out how to get – and stay – motivated WITHOUT the ‘help’ of my parents who thought I ‘should’ be able to clear my clutter in a matter of hours or at most, days. I was going to have to do a 180 degree about turn and stop using sticks and start trying the carrot approach. At least then I could oversee which carrots I liked or was in the mood for, rather than running away from other people’s sticks that suddenly appeared when I told anyone I was going to have another go at trying to declutter.

So I told no one what I was doing, and I started looking at carrots. (Just to clarify – by carrots I mean motivational tools).

And what I didn’t know until then was that not all carrots are equal. Not all motivational tools are equal. Some (carrots) are orange, some are purple, there are yellow ones and even white ones. Some are big, some are small, some are sweet. Who knew there were so many different options?!

And just as we need to find ways to get – and keep – ourselves motivated; we also need to decide which carrots we like which means we need to be open to trying lots of different types of carrots.

Some days you’ll want big carrots, some days you’ll want small, sweet carrots. Some motivational tools will be better for different parts of your Motivational Wave.

Bottom line is, when I discovered there was more than one alternative to beating myself (or allowing myself to be beaten) with a stick to get motivated, my motivation almost instantly improved without having to do anything. As soon as I took the pressure off myself to find that one carrot that was going to work every time for every point on my Motivational Wave, I could literally feel the pressure and weight lifting from my shoulders.

For me, realising I had choices which were flexible and not carved in stone, that I had choices about how I got – and stayed – motivated was mind-blowing.

The irony is that the motivational tool I used the most often – the one that became my ‘go-do’ motivational tool, was the one that my parents had unknowingly given me in the past.

My therapist.

20 years ago, there were no support groups either in person or online for those of us who struggle with clutter. Well, maybe there were, but the internet was in its infancy, and I certainly wasn’t going to seek out help online. It was traumatic enough when I did online dating (although come to think of it, that is how I met my now husband….)

Nope, my regular go-to motivational tool was my therapist Meg who would help me understand and explore the resistance, self-sabotage and fears that I experienced many, many times while on my Clutter Clearing Journey.

Meg wasn’t a motivational tool I used whenever I felt I was close to my Danger Zone. She knew my parents – specifically my father and my brother and therefore knew ‘of’ my mother – so she was aware of the family issues and dynamics.

Just as people say how the Social Gatherings are a safe place to be able to open up about how they REALLY feel about their clutter challenge without fear of judgement and can share experiences they’ve had and never shared with anyone else before, Meg was my safe place.

What I realised as I discovered and tried different ‘carrots’ to help me get – and stay – motivated while I learned to ride my Motivational Wave was that it’s best to have more than one motivational tool on the go at any one time, so that they’re there, ready and fully charged for when you need them so you can seamlessly switch between them whenever you need to, never giving up using one, always using them parallel to each other.

By giving myself permission to be human, to experience the emotional highs and lows rather than trying to fight the lows like I had in the past, and by being kind to myself by not expecting myself to be highly motivated ALL the time was liberating. Finally, I wasn’t alone anymore which enabled me to not only keep going through the bad days and tough weeks that we all have, when in the past I would have entered the Danger Zone of my Motivational Wave and given up, but the lows became shallower than they had been before, and the highs became higher.

Meg pointed out to me several times that the highs probably weren’t higher – it’s just that I was noticing them more because I was focusing on the half of the glass that was already full and growing.

As I learnt to ride my Clutter Clearing Motivational Wave with the help and support of someone I could open up to without fear of judgement, everything changed. Learning how to ride my Motivational Wave using different tools has been something positive from my Clutter Clearing Journey that I have continued to use in my life ever since.

When you stop using sticks and start using carrots to help you get – and stay – motivated, you’ll notice how quickly your Clutter Clearing Success soars!

Find out more about the Clutter Clearing Journey that Clare discovered here:

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