Some time ago I read an awesome blog post over at Nancy’s blog (Spirit Lights the Way) called Ziggy’s Problem…Too Much Stuff! Though it was about Ziggy the Zebra having too much stuff , reading that post got me to reflect on myself.
Out of the many, many quotes about the state of our inner selves or mind, there is one that states: The state of your space, reflects the state of your mind. For the most part it is used for stuff cluttering up our space, be it our rooms or our homes. There are also quotes / wisdoms which connect the state of our lives / relationships / health to the same.
You see, I’m not too much of a hoarder nor do I have much stuff. I’m also not the type that keeps things for “donkey’s years” because I think that it’ll come to use some day…in some distant future time. I’ll be honest and say that on rare occasions it’s given me a little grief when I suddenly require the very thing I tossed out 2 days prior , but not so much that I start keeping stuff.
However, I *do* have clutter. It’s the type that you can’t see. In fact, I can’t see it either. And what *is* this magical clutter that’s invisible to the naked eye? Well…I clutter my mind (and my life) by wanting to or feeling the need to do or achieve too many things…at the same time. Maybe there are other proper names for what I do but to me clutter is clutter, no matter what form it takes. Having too much on one’s plate is also clutter-y. As Shakespeare so eloquently put it : A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.
How and why does this happen?
Have you experienced a time when you have walked into a store and wanted to grab everything there was on a shelf because you just felt that you NEEDED them? Well, I do that. I impulsively grab at everything and anything that even remotely touches on my interests because I fear that if I don’t, I would lose the opportunity to know more, to experience more, to achieve more; it’s this sense of needing to be doing something and that something has to amount to a tangible outcome or accomplishment, so I had really better do this and that and that other thing..oh and this too.
The everything and anything I am referring to here ranges from books (which thankfully isn’t as bad) to attending workshops and classes. It stems from this great need to want to know everything which in turn stems from this fear of feeling inadequate, redundant, unworthy and not “special”. When I used to hear of someone going for a workshop on connecting with their animal guides, I could actually feel my mind (or maybe it would be more appropriate to say the Goblin in my mind) running around in anxiety, wringing his hands going “Oh dear! Oh wow! You’ve completely missed this. Now everyone else can communicate with their animal guides and you can’t! Oh Lord! What are you going to do?!” – complete with him stretching the “do” into a howl. Also notice that ONE person has now turned to EVERYONE? Yea, I’ve an awesome little Goblin with me. Though I must also point out that I wrote “used to” 😉 I still do it, at times, just not as frequent.
But why this fear, this Goblin called Clutter Monger?
I think it may be safe to say that most of us have grown up in families and societies that stress upon us from an early age the importance of ” being better than”. Being the best that we can be usually isn’t enough. We needed to be better than Mr. Siva’s son who scored an A for his Maths test. We need to score a distinction in the piano exam because Mrs. Wee’s daughter got a distinction too. You can’t go to art school because being an artist isn’t “a real job”.
We were constantly told and programmed to not only keep up with the Jones but we had to be better than them. A better education, better job, better car, better home, better spouse, better children…and the cycle then repeats itself. It’s this huge complex we build about and within ourselves that we are not special or important enough unless we can physically / tangibly show some big outcome that brings awe to the masses or at least the relatives.
So we cultivate Clutter Monger within us. Clutter Monger then sets to work. If you’re lucky he picks just one of either materialistic stuff or piling “the plate” on. If you’re like most then he decides more the merrier.
And then the clutter piles up…
We lose focus. We lose the joy in just enjoying the process of doing. We keep putting more and more pressure on ourselves to “get things done” that we lose all sight of what is really important in our lives.
I still catch myself at times thinking, “I have to go for my morning walk, then I have to exercise, then I have to write-up blogs, then I have to meditate and then I have to read….” It doesn’t stop there. Even within that, I can’t stop at one blog post it has to be more! I can’t just meditate, I must have an experience better than everyone else s experience. It doesn’t matter that I’ve just started compared to those that have been doing it for years because Clutter Monger says it’s. not. enough.
Oh but what do we do about Clutter Monger?!
Well, I personally think we need to grab him by his shoulders, look him in the eye and tell him NO. Firmly.
The thing for me is, the fact that I have become aware of his presence is a step in the right direction. That I can catch myself and tell myself “Whoa! Slow down. Breathe. It’s okay.” It gives me something to look out for. It makes me more aware of my thoughts and the motivation behind my wants and perceived needs. It makes me stop and look at the plate seeing that it’s already pretty full.
It takes a conscious effort to say “Wait a second. Do I really need to volunteer to take on that extra project? Do I really think that delegating my work makes me look incompetent? Or would sharing it with my project team actually bring more quality into the project?”
It takes constant supervision of Clutter Monger to keep him in check. It’s a process and the more we learn to do that, I think it makes it easier.
It takes for us to realize that we all matter. In the greater scheme of things everyone plays a part and however “big” or “small” we used to view that contribution, it makes the whole, just like in an orchestra. Every single instrument is just as important to make or break the symphony.
We don’t need to be a “better than”. We don’t need to be extraordinary. We don’t need to be the saviours of the world or everyone in our lives.We just need to be us in our truest potential and be responsible for our lives.
Do you have a goblin much like Clutter Monger?