An excerpt from The Clutter Remedy: A Guide to Getting Organized for Those Who Love Their Stuff,

by Marla Stone

Decluttering effectively requires self-honesty, since the goal is to remove from your home whatever is inauthentic, out of date, and burying or blocking your authentic self and aspirations. As you do, little and big gems of understanding will fall into your lap, astounding and dazzling you. Clearing up hazy half-truths and stupefying, self-defeating behaviors clears the path to becoming a champion and builder of your empire.

Ironically, one of the things people discover is how they could have fooled or misled themselves about their own lives, often with good intentions, yet in very unsettling ways. Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy are innocent, well-meaning untruths, but as a child
I remember feeling a little squeamish when I realized I had been duped. Since then, it’s made me wonder: Do these early fictions teach us that it’s okay and sometimes preferred to lie and dupe ourselves? To tell “little white lies” or say yes when we want to say no? To pick a career that does not interest us because parents or society convince us that it is the only way to succeed? Or to choose a particular path because we think it will be the only thing we will be good at? Are we supposed to deny what we enjoy because others will judge us or we believe it’s wrong? When people are confused about what they want in life, the Clutter Remedy is an excellent process for recognizing personal truth.

For this reason, I always advise people to approach decluttering from the stance of “no judgment.” See clearly, be honest, and avoid blame. Foster unconditional love and regard for yourself. Be kind, no matter what you discover. By going through this process, you’ve committed to remedying the accumulated clutter in your space, and this usually requires seeing and addressing your inner clutter: the issues, emotions, pain, and untruths that led to it. No one, including yourself, is allowed to judge you, criticize you, or complain about how much you own, how you collected it, or what you will keep. No one should be eyeing your stuff for themselves. It’s your stuff and nobody else ’s business. Accepting your clutter as you find it, without feeling shame or regret, is the optimal stance. This will help you see more clearly and will help you recognize any negative patterns and attitudes that you will want to work through prior to going through all your stuff. Focusing on blame and getting mired in judgment will only stress you out and bog you down.

One thing that helps make the experience fun and uplifting is to remember that everything you own was chosen for a reason. You acquired things with good intentions; they were useful or they served a purpose or you simply loved them. So when you look at your possessions objectively, ask yourself, “Why is this in my real estate? Why did I think this was a good idea?” You could have chosen certain items because they reminded you of good times. Or they were expensive items that conveyed a certain status you desired. We buy and keep items for lots of reasons. Some items you find during decluttering will remain useful and serve a purpose and still be loved, while some will make no sense at all. Remaining nonjudgmental and enthusiastic rather than ashamed
and befuddled over your stuff is easier when you see how it relates to your core values. Remember, the goal of decluttering is to create an organized, satisfying, and productive lifestyle.

Marla Stone, MSW, is the owner of I-Deal-Lifestyle Inc., which provides decluttering, design, corporate training, and lifestyle coaching services. She is a former social worker and psychotherapist turned professional organizer who helps people live an ideal lifestyle by getting to the root of their mental, emotional, spiritual, and environmental challenges. She lives in Orange County, California. More information at

Excerpted from the book The Clutter Remedy. Copyright © 2019 by Marla Stone. Printed with permission from New World Library.