Clear Your Clutter, Find Your Loved Ones

By Laura Staley, Cherish Your World

Clients, people I meet, and those who attend my talks often tell me that the unneeded belongings of loved ones have become agitating. People often ask what they should do if a person living in their home won’t clear away packages of brand-new wrapping paper that have taken over the closet, stacks of papers in the dining room, no-longer-worn clothes from the closet, toys neglected in the playroom, or boxes of “who knows what” in the basement or garage.

Most of us who share space with others have some version of this challenge. We know that we cannot control others, yet the physical stuff sneaks into the dynamics of our relationships. This often fuels some angst or agitation. You might feel that you can’t say anything about the stuff anymore because it just starts a disagreement. Yet you may feel overwhelmed or bothered by your loved one’s clutter. In other situations, you may be the one who can’t understand your loved one’s need for tidy spaces and minimal clutter; after all, you enjoy being surrounded by things you enjoy. Regardless of who likes to acquire clutter and who prefers neater spaces, resentment and frustrations can build like the abundance of items in the home do.

As a starting point, you can be the change you want to see. Begin with your belongings: sort through them and cart unneeded ones off your property. Almost everyone has some form of excess somewhere: in a closet, bathroom cabinet, drawer, basement, attic, or garage. You can embrace the process of sorting through items and letting go of those you don’t need, knowing the results will feel good.

Your actions to clear items may spawn a reaction from your loved ones. They may get scared that you will get rid of their stuff too, which may feel like a rejection of who they are. You can assure them that you are clearing away only your belongings that you don’t need, love, or use, and it’s up to them to take these actions if and when they are ready. If they express an interest in beginning this process, you can let them know that you’re happy to support their efforts. You might offer practical assistance, such as bringing boxes where they can put items to throw away and donate.

Keep gradually making progress, even in the face of “pushback.” You are taking charge of your destiny by discerning what gets to stay in your life and what needs to go. Know that you are creating room for the experiences you want to have in your life, including with the people in your household. Your courageous actions will lighten your load and may begin to free you of inner baggage too. You can even let others in your home know about the benefits you’re experiencing. If clearing items has freed you to think more about things you want to do, you can share those ideas with the people you live with.

You may need to have an honest conversation with the goal of understanding what each person living there values about the rooms of your home. You can share your frustrations, expectations, and hopes about others’ clutter in the shared spaces of the home, while knowing that they may or may not respond positively. You can speak about how you want to feel in your home, such as mentally clear, supported, and inspired.

I have observed many cases when clearing has brought peace, joy, and harmony Clients, friends, and participants at workshops have let me know how much better their lives feel after they or others in the home have cleared items. These actions have positively affected their relationships with the people they love and share space.

I encourage you to begin today by putting the timer on for fifteen minutes, opening a drawer, closet, or cabinet, and going for it. Be the change agent in your household.


The founder of Cherish Your World, Laura helps people thrive in the physical spaces where they live and work. She educates people about the optimal arrangement of belongings for comfort, safety, and flow; de-cluttering for freedom; and staging for an efficient and rewarding home sale. Laura knows that the conditions of our homes and workplaces shape the quality of our lives.

Trained and certified with the Western School of Feng Shui and seasoned by more than a decade working with a variety of clients, Laura uses her intuition and expertise to help her clients produce remarkable results in their lives. Her own awakening to the power of feng shui came on the heels of a flood and the realization that she could live with beloved belongings rather than unloved hand-me-down stuff. Feng shui invites us to live with what we love and enjoy our lives. Her trifecta of helping people includes public speaking, writing, and consulting. Laura is a published author of the book Let Go Courageously and Live with Love: Transform Your Life with Feng Shui.

Prior to becoming the founder of Cherish Your World, Laura was a full-time parent and an assistant professor at Ohio Wesleyan University. She earned a Ph.D. in political science from The Ohio State University. Each summer she competes in a triathlon named after her dad. Her joys in life include parenting, loving her dog, spending time laughing with great friends, running, biking, swimming, dancing, reading, meditating, practicing yoga, and listening to music she loves.
Connect with Laura on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter (@laura_cherish)

Love your space, love your life!

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