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I recently read Clutter Busting: Letting Go of What’s Holding You Back by Brooks Palmer. This book boils down to a few basic principles to help you get at the psychology behind why you hang on to clutter. Brooks says clutter can be defined as “things that exist in your outer life to distract you from the inner things that you’re avoiding.”
Much of the book consists of stories that illustrate the various ways in which people get stuck in their clutter and how shedding light on the deeper problems brings freedom to finally let go of clutter. This is a great study in the psychology of clutter. It would be especially good to read if you need insight for your own life and/or like to learn through stories of other people. This is not for people who are looking for quick tips on organizing your stuff or who are looking for an action guide. Rather this is for people who just can’t seem to make any headway against clutter.
According to Brooks, “Clutter busting is about doing the opposite of acquiring everything you think you want and need. It is about putting a stop to the unhealthy process of acquiring things with the idea that they will make you happy.”
Some of the points he makes in the book: We have to recognize that we often hang on to stuff because of nostalgia and not wanting to change. We identify ourselves with our stuff and think that it affirms who we are. Sometimes we let other people define us through what we hang on to. Through our stuff, we try to please parents, friends, etc. Sometimes we try to bury ourselves with stuff so we won’t feel pain.
Part of the book comes across as a bit “new age” in that there is a lot of talk of self-power, negative energy, and so forth. It’s not overwhelming, but it is there if that is likely to bother you. While I find it fascinating to read about how people get into extreme situations with their clutter, it’s not for everyone. On the other hand, if you need some help figuring out why you just can’t seem to let go of certain things, or you find that you are reaching a crisis in your clutter habits, going on a deep dive with Brooks Palmer may be just the things to help you finally break free.