A Feng Shui Expert On When Clutter Is Actually A Good Thing

Photo: Treasures & Travels

Here’s something you don’t hear often: There are times in your life when clutter is a good thing.

Full stop.

Let’s dive into why by quickly talking yin and yang. In feng shui, yin and yang are unseen forces that attract each other, creating movement. Think of yin like a noun: It is receptive, still, and quiet. Yang is more of a verb: It is creative, active, and obvious. A balance of both is the complete sentence, shifting and changing the energy around us.

Since clutter often sits idly without regular use or purpose, it has a very yin quality to it. Too much yin in our surroundings can make life feel sluggish, which is why clutter is often considered a sneaky saboteur in our lives.

However, when we find ourselves without the gravity of safety or reassurance, a little more yin energy might be exactly the prescription we need. Sometimes, we need a minute to dissect what’s happening in our lives. Here are a few cases when clutter is a positive force:

1. If you have children or teens.

Little kids are wide-eyed from digesting information all day long because everything is a brand-new experience. From their perspective, the world is very yang: It feels big, sometimes alarming, and certainly reprieve-worthy. By natural instinct, they self-soothe by creating nests of their own with stuffed animals, found treasures, and promising trinkets. While their collections might seem like clutter, it is how they nourish and nurture their systems and souls. Instead of editing through their things, begin having regular conversations about their stuff and they will learn not to rely on things for confidence.

Chaos is a necessary part of life; it’s where self-expression happens.

Likewise, yang is synonymous with independence and a desire to hurdle forward—or in a word, teenagers. If clutter is camping out around yours, resist the urge to invade! Their stuff fuels a sense of security and self-expression. Teenagers have little control at this point in their lives. School, money, and personal freedom are all dictated by others. Allow yours this rebellion and control of her/his bedroom floor. Instead, strike a balance between their creative expressions and a few house rules for structure.

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2. If you are going through a trauma.

If you do dangerous work for a living, if you leave an abusive or toxic relationship, or if you have survived a trauma, clutter becomes a form of physical insulation. And regardless of trends or movements, this is not a good time to strip that excess away because the clutter is serving a purpose. It is part of a support system, helping to soften the edges of vulnerability and exposure. Clutter isn’t meant to be a permanent coping solution; however, until the emotional bondage subsides, we aren’t making decisions from a place of power, so clearing clutter will feel like an inflammatory process.

3. If you're a perfectionist.

Cleaning up is an essential part of life—much like a really deep exhalation. However, its equally necessary counterpart is the satisfying inhalation—and that comes from play and chaos. Neatniks and perfectionists, this is for you! If we obsess over the vacuuming, dusting, and all-consuming maintenance, we can strangle our creative freedom. We can become rigid, disengaged, or even anxious because nothing is happening. Chaos is a necessary part of life; it’s where self-expression happens. A little clutter here and there releases us from perfectionism’s dictatorship so we can relax into a life that is sometimes messy.

4. If you're hiring a professional for help at home.

Clients will sometimes do a deep purge right before an organizational or feng shui consult, sort of like finally having the house you love when you prep it to sell. So, hear me, hear me: If you decide to hire a designer, an organizer, or shui practitioner to help you eliminate what’s not working, we ask you to trust us and let us see what your house really looks like—clutter and all. If you do, the professional you’ve hired will provide a new way of understanding and using your space so you can release the clutter and the patterns that keep it in place.

So, if not now, when do you clear the clutter? When you begin to feel crammed in your space. Maybe you suddenly feel like the walls are closing in on you. Perhaps you’re craving a fresh change finally. When those feelings percolate, you are ready to impose momentum by letting go of what you no longer need. Until then, remember this: decluttering advice isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution—you (and only you) choose when you’re ready to hit the accelerator and embrace a new beginning.

If you are in the market for a declutter, here is the best advice we've ever heard to get you started.

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