You’re only as organized as your messiest secret.
And what you resist, persists.
Living in true alignment means confronting the stuff we shy away from. One of the reasons I believe Conscious Design works so well is because it makes you confront those “hidden” issues.
Your mental state is constantly refracted into your living environment.
And when you work with one, it also makes you confront the other one.
So what part of you have you been ignoring?
Every mess has a different story to tell.
Clutter often evolves from fear. While we all avoid difficult tasks once in a while, in our homes it can become chronic. We don’t think we can face certain things for a number of reasons. And that results in overflowing closets, garages or bookshelves.
Take a look around your space and see what you notice.
Truth be told, the problem is only partially our own! We’re all constantly shopping and wanting the next cool thing. Society shapes us into good little consumers.
But our homes don’t grow and stretch proportionately.
That’s how you turn into a hoarder! Or more likely that’s when you start renting external space for your “extra stuff” – and after six months you’ve forgotten what you’ve even put there.
(Note: as someone who only just emptied her Canadian storage locker, I am very guilty of this!)
But I don’t want you to feel actually feel bad about any of this!
Your closets and overfilled drawers are simply giving you an opportunity to figure out what your particular issues are.
It’s all just a matter of learning to read them.
So if you’re curious to see what your mess has to reveal about you, here’s how:
The 5 Different Types Of Mess & What Your Clutter Reveals About You
The Messy Closet
Closets can conceal a few different kinds of messes. So if yours are messy, take a peak and see what sort of patterns you can identify.
Lots of on-sale items (most of which you’ve never even worn!) can mean that you have a shopping problem. A deal is actually a waste of money if you have no real use for it in your life!
Or perhaps nostalgia is your problem. This means you have a lot of clothing that was a favorite at one time but now it either no longer fits or has fallen out of fashion. Holding onto these pieces indicates a reluctance to move on from the past. If you really love something, you can still hold onto it but at least try separating these nostalgic pieces from your regular wardrobe. Remember that you can always hold onto the memories of places, times and people in other ways! (And photos take up a whole lot less room!)
The Cluttered Desk
A cluttered desk can reveal an avoidant relationship to work or hobbies. The biggest thing to figure out is if you’re actually using your desk or not. If your clutter has pushed you to use the dining room instead (or to avoid matters altogether) it’s doing you some damage. If your desk has just become another way to procrastinate about doing a project that’s truly important to you, it’s time to jump in and address the problem head on.
That said, sometimes creativity and clutter do go hand in hand. If you’re working in a messy environment doesn’t seem to impact your output or regularity, a bit of a mess might be doing you some good! Messiness can create juxtapositions that help inspire our work. However, if you start wasting time looking for your favorite pen or for a new cartridge of ink, you’ve probably taken this a step too far. Try setting aside some regular chunks of time to clear the decks and stash everything away where it belongs.
The Unmade Bed
If you have a chronically unmade bed, I would look to your love life for a few clues. An unmade (or dirty!) bed is miles away from sexy. If you’re looking for a new partner, your messy bed is a pretty clear sign that you’re not inviting any new people into your life. If you’re in an existing relationship, ask yourself a few questions. Has your relationship become neglected? Have you been giving your partner enough attention recently? (I’m going to guess the answer is no!)
To turn things around, try giving your bed a style makeover (even if you’re just using stuff you already have). Refresh your duvet cover for the season or add in a few new pillows (especially if yours are old and janky!) Sometimes all it takes is a fresh new look to inspire you take the few extra minutes to put things back together in the morning.
Piles Of Paperwork
Paperwork can become insidious if you don’t keep it in check! So take a look around your home: are there piles of unopened mail, and things waiting to be filed (for months or weeks on end)?
Piles indicate a procrastination problem; you’re constantly putting off the tasks that you just don’t want to have to deal with. Piles represent denial; they are tasks that we keep putting off until some mysterious future date. The piles make you feel like you’re doing something but they’re actually not. They’re just taking up space! Block out some time to sit down, face your real issues and deal with each one.
The All Over Mess
When everything’s a mess, there’s nowhere to run. You never have people over nor do you ever get rid of your old stuff. Thinking about what to get rid of and what to keep just makes you feel exhausted. But the problem in your space is getting worse…and worse.
If you’re the messy type, your creativity is likely on overdrive. But what’s your productivity actually like? If your mess is holding you back, it’s time to take action. Talking and planning only take you so far! The biggest thing that helps the all-around messy type is a new system, and that takes some detective work.
Start by identifying key issues and try to come up with a few different ways to address them. Maybe you never use your front hall closet because it’s too creaky to open. You could either fix the closet itself or install a row of hooks that make it easy to hang up your coat and bag at the end of each day.
While most of us need to be called out on our avoidant behaviour from time to time, again, I want to emphasize that no one’s perfect. Our homes are living, breathing entities that change and grow over time. A bout of living space chaos that appears during a traumatic life event isn’t something that you should lose sleep over. Be loving with yourself. These things can be cyclical; just trust that you’ll be able dig in and do the work when the time is again right for you.
Thank you so much for reading! I hope this post serves you well. Let me know how it goes!
PS Looking for more? You might also want to check out this post about how to make your home a sanctuary or this one about why your home is a metaphor.