One Bag Nation

Why Does Clutter Make Us Feel Bad?

Posted on: April 22, 2008

On the face of it, the clutter itself is what bothers us.

My mother – who practices Al-Anon style detachment – lives surrounded by piles of what most people would consider trash. She clears a place to eat, sit and read, watch TV, pay her bills, etc. and somehow manages to block out the physical chaos around her.

I find it essential to practice detachment in certain relationships, but I’m not willing to detach from my surroundings.

A lot of my clutter represents indecision, and I often feel that some of my piles and messes are a visual representation of what goes on in my ADD-esque brain (I say “ADD-esque” because I’ve never been diagnosed and I don’t want to trivialize ADD for those who have).

So what does the clutter represent for me? A fear that I’ll turn into my mother? A reminder of how indecisive I am? A reluctance to part with things that make me feel safe? Evidence that I’m a terrible wife, mother, housekeeper?? I honestly don’t know, but I can’t stand the anxiety the clutter provokes, so my quest to conquer it continues.

I probably need psychotherapy, but I’ll just keep blogging instead . . .

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3 Responses to "Why Does Clutter Make Us Feel Bad?"

I think there’s research that shows that clutter adversely affects mood and performance for most people. So you sound completely normal to me. As for the need to not be like your mother, well… most of us feel the same. 🙂

This really resonates with me. I’ve recently started a quest to declutter, and I know that it’s going to start getting emotional and difficult very soon. I’m holding onto or avoiding something, emotionally, otherwise I wouldn’t be so attached to this STUFF.

Hi Marianne,
Thanks for your comment. I’m still holding on to things that I can’t part with (yet), but I’m trying to remember that the stuff is getting in the way of life. Hang in there!

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