Why Clutter is not Simply a Messy Space.

Clutter. We set up tasks, goals, time lines and yet, it feels so hard to tackle. Often we can get to the starting line, but cannot follow through to completion. Sometimes it feels so overwhelming that we continue to put other tasks ahead of it just to avoid it a little bit longer. Even with the best intentions, with reminders written and alarms set, we find a way to avoid it. But why can’t we just settle in and get it done?

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The answer may surprise you.

Today I worked with a client who had finally cleared space on the desk but had been so overwhelmed with the mess everywhere else in the room, she couldn’t create a real commitment or intention to get it done. At first glance, it made sense that it was just a daunting task. We even had a few laughs about it. Yet I knew that there was a back story that had to be addressed before any mess could be cleaned up.

“Why do you need to clean this room?” I asked, picturing the photo she sent of the piles  on the floor and the challenges she has been faced with in the past few months.

“Because it will then be clean and organized,” she said simply.

“Look around the room,” I said. “What does this mess represent to you. It is not just a messy room. What is it to you?”

There was silence until her crackled voice broke through her tears. “Oh god,” she said as if just seeing the room for the first time. “This room is a reminder of all the things I can’t do. The things that I don’t get done. The chaos in my life.”

This was the heart of what mattered. This was why it was so challenging. It had little to do with the actual job of cleaning up the room. That wasn’t the job she was avoiding. It was a clearing of her life. The room signified failure to her, which was why standing in it for too long became overwhelming. Yet beginning to understand what it symbolized,  then visualizing what was on the other side, made it a much more important task. It was no longer a to-do that could wait. She had waited long enough. It was now something she recognized as too important to ignore.

In that moment she realized that a clutter free space would also create one without preconceived notions and a self sabotaging story about who she was. Instead, a clutter-free space could represent who she was about to become. In that moment she realized the clean up wasn’t nearly as hard as the clutter she was holding onto.

On the Other Side of Chaos.

I couldn’t have known there was another side to the chaos that had transpired in my life, because I wasn’t fully aware of the chaos that had begun to surround me. I did know that my life had straddled itself in an endless spin that left me feeling dizzy on most days, and that it seemed an explosion of some sort was inevitable, but knowing just wasn’t enough. Because when you are in it, you don’t really know. You don’t know much of anything at all. You don’t know if it is temporary or permanent. You don’t know if you can control it in one way or the other. You don’t even know if you are contributing to it by simply being in it. And you don’t know how to make it stop. All you do know is a persistent feeling of overwhelm and despair.

Yet in the depths of real chaos, sometimes someone becomes just strong enough, or weak enough, that the whole thing blows up. It becomes not just chaos but a sort of madness that stirs the whole pot so intensely that it explodes. Pieces fly everywhere without real certainty of how it ever stood as one. A million pieces, representing your life, scatter all around unrecognizably…no sense of order, no sense of love, no sense of self. Just pieces, fragments of life with no place to go.

It is only then that darkness becomes so blinding you instinctually head for the light. You cannot see it, you cannot hear it, or feel it, but you know that you cannot stay where you are. That remaining in this one spot is no longer an option and that you must move with certainty forward and pray for light and solid ground. With your heart pounding, you just keep moving. There is no guarantee about what awaits around the corner, but it doesn’t matter. You just keep moving, knowing that whatever is next, will be better…safer…than this.

Sometimes the walk in the dark lasts only a few hours, yet can last for days or months, but you just keep going because there are suddenly no other choices.

Until one day, while feeling the sun brightly on your face, the quiet somehow catches you by surprise. It is only then that you acknowledge the peace that radiates from a place within that you did not know was available. It is then that you know you have found the light. That you have walked far enough away, that there are no more scattered broken pieces you once called life. No more darkness. That the quiet is not necessarily what is or is not around you, but what lies within you.

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It is only then that you are able to see and feel the other side of chaos that you often denied. It is only then that you can experience quiet and peace in a way that soothes your heart and soul. It is only then that you can hear your own voice, not what you have been lead to believe about yourself. Because on the other side of chaos, you will find yourself. As each layer slowly peels away, shedding off all the protective layers you once needed…you will find yourself raw and vulnerable. You will find the actual root of who you are. Not the names that someone once gave you…but who you actually are.

You will find beauty and strength, from the inside out. Courage and love, with an intense desire to do good in this world and a willingness, to do whatever it takes to have the life you want and deserve.  Only then will you notice the circle that has filled in around you, with people who support, accept, love and feel grateful for who you are…not who they want you to be.     On the other side of chaos…you will find you. A very happy you.