Facing the Feelings


When we’re on our Clutter Clearing Journey, we are guaranteed to feel resistance.

Resistance is defined as: ‘the refusal to accept or comply with something’. EVERYONE – no exceptions – experiences resistance when they have a clutter challenge.

Before they start their Journey, Clutterholics:

  • refuse to accept that they are going to have to make regular time to deal with their clutter.
  • refuse to accept that there is no quick fix magic wand that’s going to deal with their clutter for them.
  • refuse to accept that they can’t do this on their own and that they need regular support and accountability to overcome their giving up habit.

Even when we start our Clutter Clearing Journey, resistance doesn’t just disappear because we’ve decided to get help. In Step 1, many Journey members resist doing a weekly planner. Most resist following their weekly planner. Countless Journey members resist doing their daily check-ins on Step 1 because they think they don’t apply to them, they believe they’ve done them ‘enough’, or they simply get bored of the repetition.

All these types of resistance are signs of impatience and fear – for example the fear of the change that’s going to result from planning their time and making regular time for their Clutter Clearing Journey. Fear of what they’re going to learn and realise about this clutter challenge they’ve struggled with for so long. Fear of feeling stupid. Fear of actually succeeding.

The Principle of Cognitive Efficiency

When we’re on our Journey we experience the Principle of Cognitive Efficiency, which says that people are unlikely to be prepared to make any more effort than they expect it to take to achieve the goal they are pursuing e.g. making decisions about the things in their clutter. Consequently, they make decisions based on what they’ve done before (i.e. old habits).

The Principle of Knowledge Accessibility

This says people usually only use a small amount of the relevant or new knowledge they have, to make REALISTIC decisions. They ignore new information, instead using whatever knowledge, preconceptions, assumptions, bias and information comes to mind the quickest and most easily.

Combine these two principles and expect to default to sticking to what you already know, what you’ve already done and what ‘feels’ right to you.

However, do so at your peril, because if you resist the way the Journey works, you’ll allow the resistance to the new information, learning and method you do on your Journey to fuel your habit of giving up, which we know means you will never clear your clutter Forever.


Barbara Stanny has helpfully identified 12 signs that you’re experiencing resistance:

1. You tell yourself – and others – you’re too busy to do what you say you want to do.                            

I have no time.

2. You procrastinate.                                                                       

I’ll ‘start / do it later when I’ve done x,y,z’.

3. You’re scared into inaction.

What if….?

4. You defer making decisions to other people.

You do it, you decide.

5. You lose interest.

This is boring, it’s not my thing, this isn’t working for me, my situation is different.

6. You’re forgetful. 

Oh, I meant to, but I forgot.

7. You’re disorganised.

Where did I put that….?

8. You fog up, space out

What are you talking about? I drifted off.

9. You feel paralyzed

I just can’t think, focus or get going.

10. You find reasons not to act

I can’t because…..

11. You’re impatient

This is taking way too long.

12. You keep running into Naysayers

You can’t do that / you’ll never stick at it / you won’t succeed / that’s not possible / ‘just’ get rid of it all fast / you should give up.

How to Overcome Resistance

1. Accept it

Resistance is normal when you’re clearing your clutter and have stepped outside your Comfort Zone. It doesn’t mean something is wrong. Learn to accept it for what it is – a sign that you are learning, understanding, and changing. In fact, NOT feeling some resistance is usually a sign that you’re not stepping outside your Comfort Zone and doing the deep learning, understanding and changing you need to do to succeed.

2. Don’t let it fuel your ‘Giving Up’ Habit

Check how much resistance you’re feeling, as it will increase the closer to the panic zone you get, and we know that when we get too close to the panic zone, or step into the panic zone, our habit is to give up. It’s a balancing act. We need to have enough resistance to know we are learning, understanding and changing in a way that will enable us to become Clutter Free Forever, but not experience so much resistance that we give up like we have in the past. If you need to take a temporary ‘pause’ for a few days to get used to the change then do, but whatever you do, don’t give up.

3. Do what you don’t want to do

Whatever you don’t want to do is exactly what you need to do next. If the room or area that’s next on your room order list (which you create at the end of Step 3), is one you don’t want to clear next – that’s the one you need to clear next. Resistance leads to the most significant learning, understanding, change and breakthroughs.

4. Make Yourself Accountable

If you’re doing what you’re resisting doing (see 3 above) then you’re going to need some accountability to make sure you do what you don’t want to do, don’t end up in the panic zone, and don’t give up.

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