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  • Writer's pictureGwen Pollara

Rewire your Brain by Decluttering

I caught myself today tidying up. In fact, I notice that more and more I just do it. After dinner, I go in and clean up the kitchen. I like how white the countertops look after I've washed them down. This morning I stacked all the dirty dishes in the sink, wiped down the counters and, badabing!, our kitchen looked clean and bright; ready for the next person to come make a meal.

I also find myself hanging up my coat more often than not. I bought a wireless vacuum that encourages me to do a quick swipe of the leafy carpets. I take time everyday to pick up a little. I do all of this with not really thinking about it, though I admit, there is a part of my brain that has to remind my other parts that tidying up will feel good; that it is time well spent. It feels so good to be on top of the clutter and messes in our home.

This all may sound strange to you. I imagine that some people would read the preceding paragraphs with wonder. Concern, perhaps. "Don't all adults do these things?" you might hear yourself asking. Well.........not me. I have been chronically messy all of my life.

Messes were a result of how my brain functions. Call it ADHD. Say that I'm an artist and artists don't care about messes. Whatever it is or was, it definitely is because my brain works differently than some more "adult" brains. There was always a part of me who felt weighted down by the prospect of tidying up. I resented it, resisted it, denied it.

Brains are funny. Well, actually, they are quite amazing at protecting us when we are younger from less than desirable situations. Maybe being messy was my way of feeling in control of my life. But now, that strategy only hurts me because I feel overwhelmed by the mess. I also feel irresponsible and embarrassed. Plus, being tidy helps my brain to feel more in control. Funny how that strategy turned on its head.

When working with clients, I always have my eye on how their brain works. Some people come from a background where their family had very little, or someone threw all of their toys away without asking. Sometimes people grew up with parents who kept everything. Sometimes a brain is just wired toward not noticing clutter or doesn't know how to organize certain areas of their lives. There's no one way to declutter or tidy or organize. That's why one method won't work for everyone. What's important is taking baby steps toward less clutter and more organization while "taking in" the nourishment of how it feels to live in a less cluttered environment. They more we can rewire our brain toward this new way of living, the more we will stick to the new program.

So take a moment after you clean up the kitchen or hang up a coat, especially if this was a hard task for you, and notice how it feels in your body and mind. Maybe you finally cleaned out that junk drawer or got rid of Grandma's china that had been ignored for years. There will be a moment when you feel elated. Tap into that. Really allow yourself to feel what it feels like to let go. Wire it in: Do a little dance (on the clean, clear floor), make some romance (on the clean, made bed), get down with the little wins in your life.

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