How clutter can provide a (false) sense of security

I used to work with a guy who didn’t like his job. His desk was in the corner of the office and day by day folders and piles of papers would appear on his desk until it was very difficult to see if he was actually sat there at all. He had managed to construct his own wall of office ephemera and clutter,  behind which he could hide and shut out the rest of the world.

Security from clutterThe idea that clutter might provide a barrier or ‘comfort blanket’ might, at first, appear a strange one. After all no one likes living in a cluttered environment – or do they? I was surprised to encounter this phenomena at first hand when I began my own clutter journey. I had made a start and packed away several items that had served their purpose, but had made the number one mistake of leaving them in a box in the same room I had decided to remove them from. Bad idea. Suddenly I felt that I was making a mistake. The thought of going ‘minimalist’ and its real and imagined implications became rather unnerving and frightening. Everything would look empty and bare without my things. I liked my things and in a strange way they made me feel safe, even though they drove me to distraction.

If I were to get rid of my clutter I would suddenly feel rather naked and exposed. Where would all my excuses go? What would I do with all that free time? Time that I currently spent shifting my clutter around? I would have to clean, because it would be easy to clean. My life would open up and yikes – what would that look like? All those things that I never used  but fretted about anyway would be gone and I wouldn’t have to think about them any more. So what would I think about instead? By getting rid of clutter, I would be changing my life, throwing myself back into the world and there would be nothing to hide behind any more.

I came to realise that clutter was something I had physically and mentally been carrying around a long time. I had constructed my own clutter wall and it was time to get rid of it once a for all. Yet I also realised that something which on paper sounded so simple, actually going to make more of a personal impact than I thought.

Has anyone else felt the fear of combating clutter? The last thing I wanted was to let this fear prevent me from reaching my goals. I just had to remember the advice of Susan Jeffers. ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’.


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