I share my closet with my husband, who could also stand to shed a few items… if I set some of his things out for consideration, and he is up for relinquishing them, can I count these as part of the 27?
The “other people’s clutter” conversation started on the very first day of Sick of Being Stuck (SOBS) September (the program that started this whole clutter clearing thing). The challenge was quite simple: Go to your closet and find 27 things that no longer serve you. Donate them, consign them, whatever, but do it… TODAY. One woman’s response, above, made me laugh out loud. On one hand, I totally understand that feeling: “Sure, I’ve got stuff to let go of but what about the rest of the people who live here? What about his/her/their stuff?” On the other hand, that’s the kind of thinking that keeps us stuck.
We are the only ones we can control.
This can be difficult because… well, we aren’t on this planet alone. Most of us share our space with others–parents, children, partners, and roommates. We share our work spaces with co-workers, bosses, and employees. Even our home spaces bump against our neighbors’ spaces. It’s almost impossible to keep other people’s stuff from showing up on our radar when we consider the relationship between us and our stuff.
The power position, of course, is remembering that the SOBS experience is about us–me and you, in this conversation–the rest of the stuff is up to the people it belongs to. Their stuff is their problem. Your stuff is your problem. My stuff is my problem. Got it?
(There is more to be said about those for whom we are responsible, like our children, but we’ll come back to them in another article.)
What I told the woman is this: I have two competing thoughts on this. One part of me thinks, it’s all you on this one! Clear 27 of your own things and then encourage him to do the same. Finding 27 items that are no longer serving you won’t be that difficult for most people who see themselves as having enough clutter to compel them to sign up for this challenge. The other part of me knows that it’s important that you make these decisions for yourself. Otherwise, it’s going to feel like I made you do it, and the shift that clearing clutter can cultivate is less likely to stick. I guess what I’m saying is here is that these are my thoughts but the decision is ultimately yours to make. I suppose that’s the hazard of SOBS being hosted by an opinionated woman whose life purpose is to empower others!
The reality is that I can’t force her, or you for that matter, to get rid of your stuff. You’re doing this so you can take back your life. And I don’t think that it’s going to help your stuck-ness to get rid of other people’s stuff or by forcing your people to get rid of their stuff.
I know this to be true, not because I’m a super-savvy organizational queen but because I live with people, too. When I feel most frustrated with “other people’s stuff” in my house, when I’m about to go out of my mind and start fussing at my kids, threatening to pitch their stuff out the window (yes, it even happens to me), I issue myself this very same reality check.
Before I go putting my nose into their business, do I have anything that no longer serves me hanging around? Do I have clutter to clear? The answer is always, always, always yes. And once I start tending my own things, my attitude immediately improves.