No matter how ruthless we are about keeping our clutter in check, sometimes there are things that affect us more than others. These things are known as “triggers.” Something that you are particularly tempted to buy or a thing that annoys you greatly are examples of a trigger. It’s important to keep an eye out for this type of clutter or things that stress you out so that you can address them and keep them from derailing your progress.
Triggers don’t necessarily have to be physical. There are lots of behaviors, associations, or beliefs that can trigger you also. For instance, maybe a really stressful day at work can send you on a shopping spree to relieve the negative feelings. However, what you end up with are things you don’t need, and that add to your clutter. This retail therapy also rarely ends in you feeling better. An example of a physical trigger might be noticing the stack of boxes that are piling up in your garage because you haven’t been able to face the pressure of sorting through them.
What’s important is that you learn to recognize your triggers. Knowing the problem is essential to dealing with it. In order to truly know it, you sometimes have to do some deep emotional digging. This can be painful, but it’s worth it in order to help eliminate these triggers that upset you. I find writing things down or journaling helps a lot in spotting triggers. Write down any negative feelings you associate with a particular item or other influence. Ask yourself why you might feel this way and keep asking yourself questions until a pattern begins to emerge.
Dealing with Triggers
Once you discover the trigger and its source, it’s far easier to deal with the issue. Identify the problem, make a list of possible solutions, and choose one to act upon. If it doesn’t lead to a satisfying solution, choose another option and give that one a try. Let’s look at our example above of the boxes in the garage. Sorting through them might require facing painful memories or it could force you to make difficult decisions about what to keep and what to give away. Regardless, you now know your trigger’s source. You can then examine these feelings more logically. Decide which is worse, having piles of clutter face you each day when you go in the garage or dealing with your trigger. This is usually enough to spur you into action.
Understanding and being aware of your triggers is an important part of managing your clutter. Once you master this process, you’ll feel more in charge and better prepared to deal with future triggers of all kinds.