I often get queries in my talks as well as in emails from people who are really worried about friends or family members who are having difficulty decluttering, and this is a subject I’d like to explore again here today.
The first thing I’d have to say is that unless a person is themselves is on board with the decluttering and in a place where they can commit to the change that it is, unfortunately, very difficult to move forward. True change can only happen when a person accepts the issue and is open to help, otherwise this struggle or clash of wills will make progress impossible. Furthermore, a person also needs to “buy into” their need to declutter and be clear on how decluttering can benefit their life, and as surprising as this may sound, not everyone is motivated by these gains. In households where there is more than one individual with a resistance to decluttering the situation can me even more complex.
Unless we see decluttering beyond the physical exercise of throwing things out and cleaning, we can never achieve life-long decluttering success. We need to understand that in order to declutter, we have to gently and sensitively identify and overcome the deeply-rooted thoughts, beliefs, emotions and behaviours behind the clutter. I absolutely would never promote anyone (whether well-meaning family or friend or professional) coming into a home to physically declutter if they haven’t the skills to address any underlying issues, as this could do more harm than good.
The process of change needs to be honoured, after all, we are often looking at overturning habits of a lifetime, and it’s not realistic to think that this can be an overnight thing. That’s not how change tends to work. However, if a person gets the “mindset” help and support that they need first, decluttering then can be much, much faster, easier and stress-free.
Dealing with the challenge of trying to help others declutter
As much as we may feel frustrated or sad as we watch the situation unfold, unless our loved one themselves is ready to declutter, the best thing we can do in most cases is to remain supportive and hopeful and trust that change will happen when the time is right. I don’t see force as a viable option.
To finish on a positive note, I’ve taught people of all ages and situations to declutter for the first time in their lives, and it’s incredible to see the whole-life transformation that occurs beyond the physical home when we declutter with the right mindset and we dedicate ourselves to change.