Clutter and Fear…

“Clutter is a physical manifestation of fear that cripples our ability to grow.” ~ H.G. Chissell

There is a workshop that I run called “Achieving Focus and Reducing Stress through Mindfulness Practices.” I share information each month that helps individuals in career transition calm their “monkey mind” and focus on the tasks necessary to look for the right role, in the right company. Monkey mind is how the Buddhists refer to one thought triggering another and another so that we start out enjoying a cup of coffee and in seconds realize we didn’t pay a bill for our car insurance. Very often, we aren’t even aware of the internal monologue that spools through our mind.

I help with suggestions and steps that can reduce the internal monologue, reduce stress and therefore we can become more focused on what needs to happen right now, what goal we need to achieve; place our energy and attention where it is needed right now. Very often, we as humans are either reliving and rehashing the past which creates sadness, anger, frustration or are focused on the future which creates anxiety and worry. By doing all of this, we miss out on the moment, and we aren’t focused to get done what we feel we need to get done. During a stressful time such as career transition, this can take on a life of it’s own, where we aren’t using our energy toward what is important, we are using it on stuff.

One of the suggestions that we discuss during this workshop is decluttering your space so that you can declutter your mind. I often use an example of when I cleaned out all of the “junk” that my ex-husband left in my house. I had a 20 yard dumpster sitting on the driveway and I filled it. It was liberating to get rid of all of that junk. At the same time I was cleaning out the junk I was eating, focusing on eating far more cleanly, reducing the processed foods in my system. In the blog I wrote about this, I found myself weepy and couldn’t understand it until my coach pointed out that I had removed all that was blocking my emotions and they had no where to go but out. I accepted and understood it and allowed myself to feel. What I hadn’t really noticed was that the emotions were tied to fears.

Recently I came across this quote, just as I am embarking on another clean out of clutter, both at my house and my parents house. My house includes clutter that is again not mine, along with my own stuff. I am ridding myself of pictures on the walls, allowing for more space. I am ridding myself of junk I have held onto, clothes that no longer are being worn. This quote made me think, really question, why am afraid of more growth? What is it that is holding me back from what growth?

I am always working on me and figuring out what is holding me back from something specific. I am usually afraid to fail, or afraid to lose something. I work through that by using more of a growth mindset, nothing is a failure, it is trying something until you find the way that it works or something better. I do that a lot today, without judging myself about failing. So I couldn’t really figure out what the fear was that was crippling what growth.

Then it hit me. It is about relationships. It is about intimate relationships. Whether that be close friendships and creating them or having some change, and about partnership. My clutter is my physical manifestation of being afraid to let go of what was and move into what is or what could be. In friendships, I have seen so many change over the year or so. I don’t feel like I always have a safe, non-judgmental place to go with my feelings, my hurts, my wants, I keep a lot inside more than I ever have. And partnership? That is quite the joke. I remember when my second marriage was falling apart and someone actually said to me, “you must be hard to live with.” That hurt so much. That also sat there, like a ton of bricks. Maybe I am, maybe I’m not, I don’t know. Maybe I was. But to hear those words, they sat in my heart and in my head and made me believe I was better off alone. Then I met someone who I thought saw me differently than anyone ever had. I thought we had something special only to find out that we didn’t. I was again alone and wondering if I was “hard to live with.” Perhaps that is the fear that has manifested itself into my clutter. Perhaps that fear is crippling my growth into another relationship.

The fear that I will just fuck it up like I fuck up all the other relationships. The fear that I am to hard to be with for a long time. The fear that someone will figure out that as confident and strong as I am, I am also needy. I need love, I need care, I need emotional support. I finally love me and who I am, so I know it is no longer about not being worthy. As I ponder this question, I do wonder if the real fear is that I will be conflicted in a relationship. If I attract someone, will I lose my aloneness. I treasure my aloneness. I treasure not having to answer to anyone else, if I want to shut myself in my house and not speak to anyone I can. I treasure doing what I want when I want. I also miss having a partner in crime. Someone who is there when nobody else is there for me.

As I clear out the clutter, I am also clearing out these fears. I am looking at each one, observing them, and removing them. I am more focused on what I want, what is my heart’s desire, not what I am afraid of, not the fear that cripples me. I am focusing on the next step in growth, not in what is stunting my growth.

Clutter is quite the physical manifestation of whatever may be holding us back. It is time to move into the new year decluttering our space and our minds and our hearts.


  1. minimumman on December 14, 2020 at 3:35 pm

    Yes! This was a great read. ‘The physical manifestation of what’s holding us back’ is such a good way to look at clutter. – Jay @ the Minimum Man

    • Suzy on December 20, 2020 at 12:59 pm

      Thank you! I am glad it resonated.

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