In my defense I didn’t just wake up and decide to go clean someone else’s office. We had been discussing for months me helping her to declutter and clean up. She got very upset and she asked me ultimately why it bothered me so much when it wasn’t my work space. I told her it looked unprofessional and that it affected her productivity. But was that really my issue?
Later I pondered her question.
Why did other people’s clutter make me so crazy? Why did it bother me so much?
Deep down, I feel like her clutter is contagious and if I don’ t get rid of it then I am silently saying it’s okay, it’s acceptable. And if I’m saying it’s acceptable then I could “catch it”. My office could slowly end up looking like hers over time.
Over the past two years I’ve been noticing a correlation between my stuff and my weight. Over time I’ve also noticed the same correlation between other overweight people and their stuff.
We tend to hold onto extra stuff for no real reason. We say things like, “I might need it one day” or “what if I run out” or “what if someone asks me for a copy of that”.
Our clutter is another way of holding on. It provides a false sense of security, just like our weight. Subconsciously we sabotage our diets. We overeat when we’re not hungry. On some deeper level we want to keep the weight on because it gives us this false sense of security and safety, much like a security blanket for a child.
Suddenly you have all this stuff in your way that you have to focus on so you don’t have time to focus on what’s really going on. Clutter doesn’t just crowd your office or your home, it crowds your mind so that you have no room to feel your true feelings. Now you’re focused on your clutter and how to organize it. You’ve created something else to “deal with’ to put first.
That’s exactly what a diet is. A diet is a way to put our real life on pause because we need to “deal with” our weight. But that’s really just more noise and clutter to distract us from our real issues.
Once I realized I was doing that in my own life I started a massive effort to declutter and minimize. I started with my wardrobe and I did this program, Project 333
, which focused on creating an essential wardrobe with a bare minimum number of pieces.
After having a lot of success with my wardrobe, I looked at the rest of my life. I started working hard at being comfortable in open, uncomplicated spaces. It was both terrifying and liberating. Each new clean space was like peeling back another layer of my emotions and exposing my shit. Just like when you stop eating your feelings, once I cleaned a room out, I realized I had some new emotions to deal with, to tackle. There was no where to hide.
I didn’t think I was in her office uninvited. We had been having many discussions prior to that day about the need to clean up. But when we actually started removing things she couldn’t handle it. She claimed that it wasn’t the clean up that was the problem it was the way I was doing it. She wanted to be there at all times and oversee it.
She said she truly wanted to declutter and she wanted my help but we needed to do it her way.
I get that. This is why dieting doesn’t work. No one diet designed for the masses is gonna work for you because you’ve got to figure out for yourself what it’s gonna take to lose the weight and it’s gotta be your way or it’s never gonna last.
Maybe if we figure out a way to declutter her office “her way” then it will really work and it will stick. Maybe.
But I think the real issue was that the open space, the empty shelves, the VOID, was making her uncomfortable. She had barricaded herself inside her office and now I was exposing her and it felt unsafe, vulnerable. She felt exposed.
We can feel the exact same way when we start to lose weight. I know I have. Suddenly you don’t have your weight to hide behind. More people notice you. You’re “out there”. Suddenly losing weight feels awful because you’ve exposed yourself and there is no hiding.
If you are overweight and you know you’ve had a history of sabotaging a diet or two (or five), I implore you to take a look around your house, your car, and your office space. See what else you may be holding onto besides your weight . You may start to see the same correlation I found. Start letting go of stuff in other areas of your life first, that will eventually lead to being able to let go of the weight.
Leave your comments below, I’d love for us to get deeper into discussing this topic. I feel it is vital to our weight loss success!