Venting frustration ~ Please humour me!

Last week I found myself worrying too much about other people’s clutter. I am not referring to my readers here of course but to people in my own personal scope of friends and acquaintances. In the end I decided that ~ as the old saying goes ~ “God helps those who help themselves.”  Which for me meant all I can do is offer my help and advice but in the end if people aren’t willing or able to make changes then I shouldn’t concern myself over it.

Below are a list of the thoughts that came to mind through my frustrations last week that I feel compelled to get off my chest.

  1. It is not necessary to own the “correct” household item for every occasion. No need for every shaped piece of cutlery, crockery, glassware, vase etc etc etc to suit every possible situation.
  2. When buying things, do so to please yourself not other people. A sure fire way of having a house full of stuff never used, rarely if ever worn, overlook etc  is to buy stuff to impress or please others.
  3. Stuff is no substitute for companionship or self worth. These things are acquired through socialising and  being involved in meaningful pursuits. Volunteering, being joyfully employed or local community involvement are just a few thing that can provide both.
  4. Don’t keep falling into the trap of buying stuff just because it’s a bargain. Any item is a waste of money and is potential clutter if it isn’t needed. If the most alluring characteristic of a possible purchase is its low price then just walk away.
  5. Sometimes long after one has quit physically involving themselves in certain pastimes the eye is still attracted to the material objects involved. It is very easy to fall under the spell and purchase these objects simply because you can see their potential. Be wary of such temptations.
  6. Following on from #5 ~ Don’t buy items that have you thinking you might do something creative with them someday unless you know you actually will. Potential projects stacked up on benches, in closets and against the walls is oppressive not just because of the mess but for the aspiration attached.
  7. A wise old Jedi once said “Do or do not there is no try.” I say “Do or do not, take it as slow or as fast as you like but don’t keep talking about it and doing nothing.” And if you decide to do nothing accept yourself and your home for who and what they are and no longer feel you need to make excuses for that. We are all entitled to be ourselves and be happy with that. If it turns out that you aren’t happy with that then “Do or do not there is no try.”
  8. I think I make the mistake of thinking that just because other peoples’ homes are cluttered that they aren’t happy with that. They may make excuses for it but that might just be because they know what my feelings are about clutter. In future I will only give advice if it is genuinely solicited.

Thank you  for listening I feel much better now.

If any of the above thoughts reflect an issue you have with clutter perhaps it would be a good thing to mull over for your Sunday mini mission this week. That being said if you feel you need some advice or encouragement please feel free to ask. My readers and myself are always keen to do what we can to help.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter something from your bathroom.

Today’s Declutter Item

Much as I love Bubbles (as my daughter affectionately calls him) I really am just not a DVD watcher. So I gave him to my daughter to enjoy.

Michael Bublé DVD

Eco Tip for the Day

Consider getting together with your neighbours to pool your food growing resources. Share space, supplies & tools. If you have limited space each neighbour could grow something different to the other and then share between you.

For a full list of my eco tips so far click here

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow


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  • Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom ~ Count the Mintues Cindy's Weekly Wisdom Last week, I wrote a post praising the wonderful feeling of getting old to-dos done. As I suspected, I was not alone in 1) having pletny of old to-dos that needed […]
About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.

Comments

  1. Hi Colleen! Glad to be here for you! 😀 . Sometimes people go way overboard because they want to project a certain image. People want to look sophisticated, to have and own the “best”. And if they are not ready to move on, there’s no amount of help that will do anything for them. So keep giving your advice and if they ever want to act upon it, it is right here on this blog.

    • Hi Andréia, thank you for your words of wisdom. I considered not publishing this post today, I thought once I had penned it I would be happy to get it off my chest. Unfortunately Cindy was not able to contribute her post today so I decided to post this one anyway.

      I suppose it just goes to show how other people’s clutter can affect those around them. Especially if they say they want to do something about it but don’t.

  2. In regards to #4, NOT BUYING SOMETHING IS A BETTER DEAL than buying something for a good price.

    It is hard sometimes when you know how much nicer life would be for people if they would just unload some of their stuff. You know from experience, but they are too blind too see. In the end, we all live with the consequences of the decisions we make be it a life of freedom or a life of bondage to things. It is hard, though, when you want to help others understand what freedom they could have that they don’t.

    • Exactly Spendwisemom, and not only does their desire of stuff affect them but it affects those around them because of the effect that overconsumption has on the environment. There is a price to pay for everyone.

  3. Hi Colleen,
    the thing I struggle with is becoming sanctimonious about decluttering. I never want to come across like the reformed smoker or new vegetarian, who feel their mission is to convert you to their way of thinking. It is most difficult with those who also live in my house.

    • I know what you are saying Susan. I suppose I ought to be grateful that at least those in my own household are on the same page. I do also get the joy of the lovely messages from readers at times who are grateful for what I have done to help them see the light. Everyone that does follow along gives me optimism that the world in general is heading in a new direction.

  4. Colleen, I understand how you can not only get frustrated but have to watch that you don’t get sanctimonious about decluttering. I know that not everyone is in that place but I sure wish I could get them there. I’ve lost track of how many weeks I have been going to help S but when I look at how much there is yet to do I get a little frustrated. I can’t understand getting to this point or why you can’t get yourself out of it and have to have help. But that is because I have never been that way to begin with. Ah well! I just have to pray for God to change my attitude and help me be patient.

    • You said that very well Deb J. I am sure there are people out there who think my ideas about over-consumption are bad for the economy so fair’s fair. The one good thing about people slowly but sure coming around to this way of living is that a gradual change to the norm is easier for society to adapt to. And I sincerely hope that that is what is happening in the world. Mother nature would be thankful for it that is for sure.

  5. Colleen, thank you for this post.
    It fits to a completely different area of my life at the moment. A few years ago, I’ve been bra-fitted and I’ve been intrigued and think I know quite much about bras these days. Ever since I kind of cringe inwardly, when I see friends and aquaintances wearing ill fitting bras. I literally see how much it must hurt (if it’s a big bust) and think how much better they would be off if they just wore their right size. However, bra size is a topic that isn’t easily discussed. Women with big bust would rather not have such a big bust and therefore try to squeeze in smaller cups. Women with small busts just can’t imagine they could fill a C- or D-Cup and wear too small cups as well. Both are rather afraid of the letters further along in the alphabet. I can relate as I have been through that as well, but still it’s sometimes wearing me down. However, there is nothing I can do, but offer that we might go shopping together some day. As long as they don’t take up that offer, I will just have to accept that they just don’t care about a well fitting bra.
    Sorry for that off-topic, but I feel about this topic similarly as I do about clutter/decluttering: it’s a small, rather insignificant thing, nothing highly intellectual or anything, but it affects your life and well being every single day and can just make that little difference of feeling uncomfortable vs. carefree.

    • Hi Sanna, I am glad for you to be able to vent your frustration here at 365 Less Things. No subject is taboo here so vent away because quite frankly I find ill fitting bras on people equally annoying. I have the opposite problems with bras, I am so small that I can barely fit into an A cup and finding one small enough is quite a challenge. So it drives me particularly crazy when people with larger breast can’t seem to find something suitable from the larger range of sizes and shapes available to them. Perhaps that is more about jealousy than visual offensiveness though. 😉 That being said I did have a “fitter” one day say to me when I succumbed to allowing her to help me and she had trouble finding a bra small enough to fit “You are small aren’t you.” Well no shit Sherlock (excuse my language), like I needed her to inform me of that.
      I am glad you mentioned this subject because just this morning I wore a plain white t-shirt and noticed that my bras have lost a little of their structural integrity so perhaps I had better go out and buy some new ones. It’s been a while.

      • Colleen, I myself have worn an A or AA cup for most of my life, until I found out, I’m better of with a D- (or DD-)cup. Would never have though that! I mean D is big, isn’t it – and my bust for sure isn’t. It’s just broad, which means that tiny cups don’t fit and I need big cups but low cuts. (kind of difficult to explain even in a bra shop, especially as in Germany there are almost only full cup bras in bigger cup sizes).
        I hope you find some well fitting ones!

        • oh wow. I never knew that you can wear a wrong size THAT differently… I have been between B and C (depending on the bra really) and I had to figure out the form of the cups over the years, but I went to a shop two years ago, where I learned that while my size was ok, I didnt strap it tight enough, so my shoulders didnt take any weight off. I have been doing this since, and I dont have any problems at all, just had to figure out the right size again after the weight loss…

  6. I enjoyed your post today and could relate to it. As I am experiencing the joys of de-cluttering, I have tried sharing them with close family members and have offered my help. No one has taken me up on it yet, but ultimately they have to get to the point that they have had enough of their own situation.

    For a long amount of time, I felt that I spent much of my life trying to please or impress other people, but I learned that you don’t do yourself any favors by doing so. I am so over that now. I do not own an outfit for every occasion/every color nor do I own a set of dishware for every holiday. I guess I would be considered quite boring and bland, but it does not bother me, because those who matter do not care and those who care do not matter.

    • I love that last statement Jen “…those who matter do not care and those who care do not matter.” That is exactly what I think. And like you I don’t care what other people might think of my lack of choice, it sure makes my life easier and I am happy with that.

      • Here’s a variation on that great saying that a woman with a socially “disreputable” job once said to me – “the people who know me, know what I’m like. The people who don’t, don’t matter”.

  7. My frustration is this. We don’t do caffeine at home but my husband insists on having real tea and coffee in case someone comes to visit. I feel that it’s unnecessary to give our rare visitors the option of “caff or decaff” (when I go to friends I’m not given the choice and I just tolerate the palpitations!!). In the same way, he’s just started stocking up on booze for Xmas in case anyone calls in. We still have sherry and gin and whisky left from last year. I don’t see the need for any more. Frustrated!!!

    • I am with you Tracey. If friends drop by they can learn to bring their own coffee or tea or go without the caffeine. I feel a similar sort of awkwardness at times when people come who don’t drink tea or coffee and all I have to offer is milk, apple juice or water because they are the only other beverages we have. I prefer the awkwardness of not having other choices than the waste of carrying ones for a rare occasion so I am sticking to my guns.

      I’d say try and convince your husband of the BYO option.

      • I agree. We only have tea, coffee and water on hold. If there’s company coming, I might rush out and get a small amount of juice or soft drinks, but if it’s unexpected company, they have to drink what we drink. 😉
        I don’t expect anyone having my favourite tea brand on hold either.

        • „if it’s unexpected company, they have to drink what we drink. “ Well said!

          If I host a larger group of people though who drink filtered coffee (or one coffee drinker for several days) I’ll cater to their likes and freeze the rest so that it stays fresh (the last packet of coffee just lasted two years that way and apparently still was fine. All the coffee drinkers were happy enough with it. Now it’s used up though). As I usually have different sorts of tea at home for myself that should be fine enough for every tea drinker dropping in. I think whether you stock for others or not depends on the ratio of expiration date and number of visitors. I don’t want to throw away things, block too much of my precious space or offer something that’s not nice anymore because it is too old. On the other hand: The happiness on a coffee drinkers face to get their “drug” in the morning in a tea drinkers home is worth the little corner of my freezer 😉

          • I loved the last sentence… Especially because I have been one of those coffee addicts and my friend who likes green tea instead is coming basically every second day to my house. So I bought green tea for her, and started drinking it, and I must say, there is a chance that I need to focus on finishing my coffee before it goes old, and maybe not replace it for some time. maybe the green tea phase lasts only during fall and a bit of winter.

  8. Another way to look at all this: Maybe those of us who are decluttering now are on the cutting edge of this revolutionary idea.
    So 3 years from now when it’s hip & trendy to declutter then those of us who already have decluttered will get to sit back & watch the hipsters race to declutter finish line.

    • Oh Jane I only hope that is the case. I would love it if a whole lot of other people jumped on board this idea. Less consumerism has got to be a good thing but the numbers need to grow.

  9. “When buying things, do so to please yourself not other people”
    When doing anything, do so to please yourself or your immediate family, not other people. Oh my gosh! The amount of time, frustration, anxiety, overwhelm, feelings of not being appreciated or respected, feelings of being taken advantage of etc., could have been avoided if I knew then what I know now. And, so many mothers, pass this generational mumbo jumbo down to their daughters. I stopped that thinking from being passed along to my daughter. She knows it is “do as I say, not do as I did”. Loved your post, Colleen…it wasn’t venting, it was sharing your honest feelings. A round of applause to you!

    • Thanks Kimberly and I like the way you interpreted your experience of this. I wish I could say I handed my ideas about frugality and financial sense to my daughter but alas I did not. Even though I am much different now I have always been reasonably conservative about spending which I am glad to say at least did rub off on my son.

      I will add that they are both special in their own ways though and I love them to death.

  10. De-cluttering seems to have caught on in my circle. In fact, it’s getting hard to give stuff away to friends or family! Our ladies group gets together to share craft and scrapbooking supplies so we don’t have to buy more. We share garden space and produce. I think it is helping to build community as well as declutter our homes.
    All we can do is set a good example and others can choose to follow or not.

    • Good for you Wendy B, you must be spinning in the right circles. As for me, I will be patient and perhaps things will change eventually.

    • I sometimes think, asking friends whether they would be interested in decluttered things, makes them declutter in the long run. At least it works with some people. I think, it’s just that they notice “Oh, Sanna is getting rid of books/CDs/vases – maybe, I could go through mine as well?”.
      One friend whom I often gave dishes and a couple of books has started offering me her outgrown clothes that languish in her wardrobe for a couple of years already. I’m quite happy about her decluttering. (and I got two nice trousers that way as well! 😉 )

    • I had this huge moment of irony a couple of weeks back, when I was super successful selling my stuff. it hit me that I was using consumerism to make money out of my things. its not my consumerism, but someone else’s. and only because others take my stuff, I can live without stuff. I think its ironic, I will continue to do so, because I do not have a huge income, I will smile about it and wait for the day, where I wont have anything to sell anymore.

  11. Colleen,

    Sometimes you just have to vent! Understood….

    It’s a pet peeve of mine, too, other people’s clutter.

    For my family (who aren’t entirely on board) I am living by example–not preaching to them, but letting them see how much nicer it is to live without clutter!

    An aside: my younger brother has just unwillingly decluttered due to Hurricane Sandy. He got the important things out when he evacuated, and has now said that he realizes the rest was “just stuff”.

    • Robin, I hope your brother is doing okay. The photos coming out of all the devastation are just horrible, and my heart goes out to all who suffered any kind of loss from this storm.

      I live in Vermont, and the southern part of our state had some damage and power outages, but nowhere near what New York City and New Jersey experienced.

    • Hi Robin, sorry to hear about your brothers predicament but glad for him at the same time.
      You are right of course about just setting an example and not being preachy which is what I do but it distresses me when people seem stressed about their stuff when I am around. It may just be because they know what I am like and feel embarrassed but really are generally happy with their stuff. After all they continue to add to it. I would prefer that they either accepted themselves for what they are and stop making excused for themselves. I find myself perhaps worrying about them for no reason.

  12. Colleen, I have some trouble with #8 myself. I taught myself to declutter and become organized when my daughter was little. She’s 35 now, so it’s been a long time, so long that I feel this is the way I’ve always been, but it really wasn’t. I used to be very cluttered and disorganized.

    Now I’m married to a man who is very cluttery, disorganized, and collects everything.

    It is not helpful when I slip and start in on how much better life would be for him if he’d just declutter so he could find things, etc.

    I stay very busy keeping ahead of the stuff he brings into the house, but since I’m the one who wants to keep a decluttered home, I just do it, even though it is frustrating at times because I see it as causing more work which wouldn’t be necessary if the items weren’t brought in here in the first place.

    Like you, I have to remind myself that not everybody is as bothered by clutter as I am.

    • Becky, this is what I am trying to do for my friend, S. I am puching toward having the house so decluttered and organized for her that with just a few minutes of work she can keep up with the untidiness of her husband.

      • Hi Becky, he does need to know that the stuff he continues to bring in does bother you even if you aren’t insisting on him doing anything about it. Your feelings matter. Do you have guidelines as to how far he can spread his clutter? Are there areas of the house that of off limits?

  13. You are already doing heaps to help family and friends, by modelling a decluttered and less materialistic lifestyle. That can stir things up for people, whether it motivation to change, or defensiveness. I have been through a similar frustrating time but came to the conclusion that I needed to step back and let people work things through in their own time. The reasons why things get cluttered can be very complex, and it can take a long period of mulling over before action takes place, if it ever does. Thats their choice. What happened with me was when I backed off, other people started to act on their own accord. It was as if the pressure of me wanting them to change was holding them back, and making them withdraw. What seemed to be most helpful was to put an offer on the table, such as saying I would be happy to come for a declutter session. Then I back off and let them decide. If you let them come to you, it will help them get their motivation sorted, so that they are doing it for themselves, not to please someone else.

  14. # 8 is So True! Until a person is really and truly done with clutter wreaking havoc in her/his life, all my suggestions and offers will fall on either deaf or annoyed ears. I really try to simply offer my help and say, “Whenever…”

  15. My husband doesn’t get motivated to declutter for the sake of decluttering, but if I present him with a fairly easy-to-achieve goal he’s very cooperative. He has no problem weeding out his stuff so I can get rid of the shelf it is sitting on, so I’ve been going after shelves.

    But he has a minimalist’s approach to decor and buying things anyway, so he is only resistant to the effort of decluttering rather than the effects.

    It will be interesting to see what my parents do now that they’re empty nesters. I suspect they’ll purge a lot of stuff.