Never Clear Your Clutter Without This Trick

“It seems like every single one of the women in my circle of friends has a thing they want to do, or a big change they want to make but we’re all just… stuck. Nobody is moving forward on anything.”

This is how we started my class this morning and I thought, “Oh, wow, here we go.” It was the first group call for the new lot of “Sick of Being Stuck” students and before I could even get the recording turned on, she offered that explanation for why she signed up. She divorced a few years ago, went back to school, and is now working her new field and raising her kids. She loves her much smaller house and lots of things are really great but…

She just feels stuck.

Her big thing is the paper. Another student tells us that it’s the basement packed to the brim with boxes filled with all manner of assorted whatnot that didn’t get tended in a recent move. She can’t bring herself to open even one box. Another student has a series of tiny little spaces–a room at home (sharing the rest of the space with roommates), a car, and a cubicle at the office. It’s a professional shift that she is here to cultivate.

It’s been six months since this program started and I continue to marvel at the wild varieties of people and issues that are popping up, which is nothing when compared to the similarities we’re uncovering. This experience is a remarkable. We’re all just the same.

We get stuck for the same reasons –people die, marriages end, kids come or leave, or perhaps it’s a health crisis. We have dreams for something new but can’t figure out how to fit it into our lives. We set goals but the sameness keeps pulling us back into the old ways of being. And after we’ve outgrown parts of our lives, sometimes we stay put and the stuff stacking up around us gets too sticky to make a move.The wounds are particularly fascinating. I’ve written before about what to do when it hurts to let go but it’s shocking how predictably we respond to not having enough food to eat when we were little. We “hoard” food, some more dramatically than others, sure, but the attempt to create security is the very same.

When we are mocked for not having a cool enough wardrobe when we are little, we often become sort of obsessed with clothes that will keep us from feeling that way ever again. Of course, we can’t actually fix an inside problem by piling things on externally but we try. Eventually, it the stuff becomes as oppressive as the original bully.

The list goes on and on, we all react to our old wounds in ways that show up in our space. Guilt is the other thing. We are so hard on ourselves. Painfully hard. Ironically, or perhaps tragically, it doesn’t help. Over and over again–in these group calls… and also in my own head–I listen to people beating themselves up about whatever isn’t yet complete or perfect.

The program starts with a short period of small, daily clutter clearing challenges. The first day, for example, I challenge them to remove and release 27 things that no longer serve them from their bedroom closet. Inevitably they experience a big rush of excitement when they do the simple task, followed by an almost immediate crash.

It’s the realization that there is still so much still to be done that clouds the celebration. It is a seriously oppressive pattern. Just like wallowing in yesterday, the forward thinking hysteria won’t help anyone with anything, except maybe inviting more suffering, and who needs help with that?

We have to remember to stay in this moment. It took time to get here and we all know that it’s going to take time to get back in balance. We’ve heard that a million times, whether it’s about extra weight or clutter or healing from an injury. What we don’t talk about it how devastating it is to beat ourselves up. If something major happens in your life–a loss or trauma, in particular–and you stop tending your space for a while, things will get backed up. If you beat yourself up about it, it won’t ever get better. It can’t.

We have to learn what we can from the past and then have the courage to let it go. Clinging to what was true yesterday cannot support us tomorrow. We have to learn to live now, in this moment.

Learning to celebrate what’s real right freaking now is essential to leaving the past behind without allowing what lies ahead to move right in and rain on the parade.

Every moment that you’re moving forward is worth celebrating. And no, it doesn’t matter how small the step is that you’re taking. Every little thing you let go of–physically, emotionally, or mentally–puts you back in the driver’s seat of your life. Each intentional action opens you up to the possibility of the next one.

When you walk 5 minutes for the first time, it makes it easier to do it again. When you clear out one drawer, it makes it possible to do the next one. When you ask for what you need in a situation when it’s really, really difficult to do so, the next time it will be easier. And every single time, stop and celebrate because you have just taken action. This action will cultivate the change you desire.

That step means that you won’t ever have to stand in the spot you were in yesterday ever, ever again. That step is everything when you’re intention is to change your life. That step is worth celebrating. YOU are worth celebrating.
For more information about the Sick of Being Stuck Program, visit


wael a.
wael a4 years ago

Thank you

Alan Lambert
Alan Lambert4 years ago

Fascinating, thanks for the info

Emma S.
Emma S4 years ago

Thank you, Christy. I seem to be getting little reminders all over the place that change is possible. I think you have to be brave enough to see the death of your old self - which happens each moment really - as liberating rather than horrifying, as an opportunity rather than a shutting down.

Terry V.
Terry V4 years ago


Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe6 years ago

If I clean out 1 drawer, by the time I get to the 2nd one, the 1st one is messed up again!!
Maybe it would work better if I pretend I am still in school and it was an assignment that I had to do one each day (LOL).

Jane R.
Jane R6 years ago

Getting rid of 27 items in the closet would be difficult to do all at once!! I've gotten rid of a few things at a time. Things I've had for years, (clothes). Many hadn't been worn for years yet I couldn't part with them. I still have some I've never worn and the tags are still on them. One day, I'll do something with them.

Sarah M.
Sarah M6 years ago

Thank you!

Jane Warre
Jane Warren6 years ago

One of the reasons for such self-abasement after one's clutter clearing has been started - after just one drawer has been tidied up, for example - is because things look worse before they look better.
That has to almost become a mantra - in order to continue.

Jenna W.
jen b6 years ago

awesome thanks!

Anna A.
Anna A6 years ago