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Articles & Ideas


Clearing clutter for clarity and confidence

Important Note: This article was written prior to 2010 and is now outdated. Please use my newest advancement, Optimal EFT. It is more efficient, more powerful and clearly explained in my free e-book, The Unseen Therapist™.  Best wishes, Gary

Note: This article assumes you have a working knowledge of EFT. Newcomers can still learn from it but are advised to peruse our Free Gold Standard (Official) EFT Tutorial™ for a more complete understanding.

Hi Everyone,

Thanks to Lindsay Kenny for giving us this mega-detailed article on how to apply EFT to this complicated issue.

Hugs, Gary

By Lindsay Kenny, EFTCert-Honors

Messy homes, cars or offices are common issues today with our busy lives. True clutter however, and I mean really messy environments, is really a symptom of something other than a busy lifestyle.

Most often clutter is a Control Issue. Being unwilling to let go of things is a way people can feel in control of their lives. Even though it appears that they are totally out-of-control, hanging onto “stuff” gives people a sense of being in control. It’s similar to how anorexics feel about food and their ability to at least control their weight.

Another common reason for clutter is Fear. The fears of loss, rejection, failure, and losing control are the most universal of these. But again, all of these fears and issues are just symptoms. Underlying these symptoms of clutter is a cause or core issue.

Clutter is often triggered by an event or a series of events that left the victim feeling traumatized, fearful, and powerless.

Hanging on to things gives some people a sense of commanding, or controlling at least a portion of their lives.

Determine the event that started the feeling of loss of power or loss of control and neutralize it. You are then halfway home to eliminating clutter.

Let me define what I believe are the Three Levels of Clutter:

Level 1 -- Generally messy and disorganized at home; “stuff” lying around on many or most surfaces

Level 2 -- The level above, plus…

  • A messy office, car and often (but not always) personal appearance
  • An unwillingness to throw away outdated or useless things
  • Lack of desire or ability to put away clothing or items or to clean up behind one’s self or others
  • Litter and disorganization everywhere

Level 3 -- The two levels above plus…

  • Elements of complete disorder and filth, even to the level of pathology (meaning unsanitary conditions that create a health risk.) 
  • Complete organizational chaos; from dirty dishes overflowing the sink to unwashed clothing everywhere
  • Garbage accumulation (in or out of bags,) on the floor or furniture, in the garage or car
  • Often there is animal excrement on the floor or furniture
  • All accompanied by a feeling of being “paralyzed” by an inability to do anything about the situation

It’s the last two Levels that I want to deal with in this article, and I chose “Janice”, with a typical clutter case to use as an example.

“Janice” came to see me with a Level 3 problem. Although she looked relatively clean, she assured me her home was beyond filthy. Boxes, stacks of magazines and newspapers, and junk lined her walls and floors so that she could only reach her bedroom or kitchen through a small path. She said you couldn’t see her sofa, chairs, TV, or even her kitchen table. Dog poop was on the floors, in the spare bathroom tub and even on her bed.  A loose parrot contributed bird pucky on everything everywhere. She said the smell when you walked in the door was “staggering”. 

This was clearly more than just a messy house. And similar to a TV program where three tons of garbage was hauled away and a crew cleaned and sanitized a woman’s house, six weeks later it was on its way to being the same pigsty it was before. That’s because the reason for the “clutter” was not dealt with.

For Janice, the age of the magazines (dated in the late ’80s) was a clue to me. I asked her what happened 20 years ago. She had no problem remembering. A drunk driver had killed her only child, a much-adored 11 year-old daughter. Janice was still devastated and in shock when three weeks later her beloved husband of 15 years was killed. The mudslide that took away her husband, eradicated their home and virtually everything else Janice had left.  Photos, family keepsakes and personal treasures were lost; along with the people she loved the most.  Her whole life was turned upside down in a flash.

From that point Janice was virtually paralyzed with grief, sadness, and a sense of abandonment. She became frightful and hyper-vigilant about everything. She didn’t want to live, yet was terrified of dying. Janice became afraid to make a move, throw anything away, go anywhere, or do anything. Her hoarding of the few things she recovered or replaced began her trend toward clutter. She didn’t do it intentionally. She subconsciously had developed such a fear of loss that controlling her environment became her way of controlling (and protecting) her very life.

With this knowledge we first cleared out her grief and trauma about losing her husband and daughter. She said she had “dealt with it” through years of therapy. I knew that was doubtful, based on the results in her life.

We started with a Reversal on the KC point:  “Even though I don’t want to let go of the grief and trauma over losing my family and home…”

 Then the Set-up on her sore spot: “Even though I’m still grieving at some level over the loss of my daughter and husband…”

 We did several rounds just tapping on reminder statements of grief, sorrow, emptiness, sadness, anger, being afraid and alone.  This brought a lot of tears, which surprised her. Note: A round consists of tapping on all of the meridian points, while using a short reminder statement, or venting phrases, starting with the eyebrow and ending at the top of the head.

On the 3rd round we gave voice to her feelings with phrases like: “It was so unfair … I still miss them … I blame myself somehow...How could they leave me like that … Why me … It still hurts … My life isn’t worth living…” After a few rounds of venting like this her intensity dropped to a 6.

We did a few more rounds adding in positive phrases like“I want to let this go … I want to move on … I’m ready to get over my grief … I’m ready to honor their lives by living mine to the fullest … Bob and Melanie wouldn’t have wanted me to live like this…”

When the intensity was 2, we changed to the Choice Statement, choosing to let go of the negative emotions around the loss of her family and choosing to live life to the fullest.  She was responding very well and reached a zero in intensity at the end of this process (the first round of the remaining issue, the second round of positive affirmations - choosing to let it go - and the third round alternating negative and positive statements at each consecutive point).

I asked her to really try to get upset about the loss of either of her loved ones. But she couldn’t do it. She actually laughed about something funny she remembered her daughter had said.

With the cause of her clutter issue now put to rest, we could then move on to fixing the symptom of clutter problem. As always, I used the Ultimate Truth Statement to work toward a positive outcome. I could have started the whole process with this as well, but the underlying grief issue was so apparent that I wanted to eliminate that first.

Part 2 – The Clutter Issue

 After dealing with the cause of Janice’s clutter problem, the loss of her family and home, we moved on to dealing with the clutter itself, using what I call the Ultimate Truth Statement.  First I had Janice come up with a basic statement as the goal she would like to achieve: “I live in a neat and orderly environment.”

We then filled in reasons she wanted this to be true. “I could find things easily … I could have people come to my home without feeling shame … I would feel healthy, safe and comfortable having a clean home, car and office … My life would be easier and simpler…”

Next, we added some of those positive phrases to the UTS, so that it read something like this: “My life is easy, comfortable and safe living in a healthy, neat and orderly environment.”

I then asked her to describe how that would make her feel when that statement became true. “I would feel free and proud of myself … I would have clarity! ... I would feel good about myself and have more confidence … I would feel WONDERFUL and so happy … I would feel so much lighter…!”

By compiling all of her phrases to her basic goal her “Ultimate Truth Statement” looked like this:  “I feel wonderful, light and safe living in a healthy, neat, and hygienic environment. My life is comfortable, easy, and free with my clean, well-organized, tidy lifestyle. I have clarity and confidence again, and I’m happy and proud to invite people to my beautiful, clutter-free home.”

This was a statement Janice could not only live with, but loved! She was very excited about the possibility of achieving it. On a scale of 10 to 1, with 10 feeling and owning the statement right now, she was at a 5. 

She now had two major concerns. One concern was wondering how she could possibly clear everything out and clean up the incredible chaos she lived in.  The second was fear. She feared letting go of things (control), feared she’d throw something away she might need later (loss of control), and even feared that she could never even get started, much less finish. In a way, holding onto her fears, control issues, and clutter was her way of holding on to her family!

We put aside the UTS for the moment to work on the obstacle of the fears in her way. We clumped her fears together and Janice gave them a 9. We then did a Reversal neutralization(I define a Reversal as a “Subconscious Resistance to change,”) saying: “Even though I don’t want to let go of these fears … Even though these fears keep me safe or keep me from failing … They are part of my identity … Even though I may not deserve to let go of these fears … Because I don’t really want a clean orderly environment … These fears insure that doesn’t happen…’”

Just doing the Reversals gave Janice some relief, which surprised her.  We then simply tapped away the fears: Even though I have these fears about letting go of my filth, feces, and squalor...

Note: When dealing with something you want to eliminate, I found it’s far more impactful to paint it in the worst possible light. Using loaded words such as squalor and feces instead of just saying “clutter” has much more punch. Being graphic like that, however, is not a good idea if you’re letting go of a trauma or abuse issue. 

After the set-up statements we did one round just alternating the fears: “This fear of letting go … This fear of failing … This fear I might need something I throw away.”

On the second and subsequent rounds we added words to give voice to the fears. “What if I throw something away I really need? ... What if I can’t even get started? ... I’d feel like even more of a failure … How will I ever get this all done?... I’ll feel so out of control and helpless … I can’t do this … I need my stuff … I want to keep it.”

 After a round or so I then transitioned to the ridiculous. “I need my squalor … I love filth … It smells so good in there … Feces is my friend … I don’t really need to find my cat … I need these fears … They help me keep my “clutter and filth” … They are my friends … I don’t want to let go of the fears OR the filth … Oh, ewwwwwwwww, yes I do!...No I DON’T … YES I do!...I’m tired of living this way … I want to have a clean, healthy environment … No, I love garbage … No I don’t! I want to eliminate these fears and this filth so I can be healthy again...”

After arguing both sides of the issue, we reassessed Janice’s number and her fear issue was at a level of intensity of 3 out of 10. 

We then moved to the Choice Statement with the set-up of: “Even though I still have some fears of cleaning up my environment, I choose to let them go….”

After doing that two or three times we did the next three rounds with the Choice Method.


Explore our newest advancement, Optimal EFT™, by reading my free e-book, The Unseen Therapist™. More efficient. More powerful.