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From Clutter to Clarity | Kerry Thomas | TEDxAshburn

From Clutter to Clarity | Kerry Thomas | TEDxAshburn

Translator: Sanda L
Reviewer: Rhonda Jacobs Overwhelmed. That doesn’t feel pleasant
hanging in the air, does it? The word itself brings up
feelings of failure and isolation. It’s also the word, sadly,
that I hear the most from new clients. I have a friend and client
who is successful, runs a great business,
is very active in the community, and is, honestly, the most
positive person you will ever meet. And yet, at our first
coaching consultation, she told me that not only
did she feel overwhelmed, she felt paralyzed. When I asked her to elaborate,
she brought up words like shame, failure, fear, and isolation. I assured her that she is not alone. In fact, in homes, and businesses,
and relationships everywhere, “overwhelm” has become
our society’s dirty little secret. We fill everything. We fill our houses,
we fill our cars, we fill our offices, we fill our smartphones,
we fill our storage units, we fill our minds, and we fill our hearts
with more than we can manage. We think that the “more”
will lead to happiness, but all it does
is perpetuate the overwhelm. Because of this “dirty little secret,” the word “clutter” has exploded
in our nation’s vocabulary. From books to TV shows, to magazines, you can’t even check out
at the grocery store without seeing the word “clutter” plastered over every
single magazine cover. But what people don’t realize
is clutter is not just our stuff. It can be those physical things
that clog up our homes, but it can also be digital, mental,
emotional, or even spiritual. The physical clutter
is the typical that we think of: the closets that are overflowing,
the garages that can’t hold cars, the storage units that have become
a billion-dollar industry in this country. Digital clutter are things like the ten, twenty, fifty,
eighty thousand emails in inboxes that I see on a very regular basis. It’s also things like files
saved on your computer without naming conventions,
so you don’t know what you have, and you spend a lot of time
looking for things. Mental clutter can be fears. It can also be voices whether it be from a boss,
or a spouse, or the news, or just anything that bombards us. Emotional clutter can be from patterns, negative patterns that you don’t
even realize that you have. It can also be all those “I can’t” voices: “I can’t lose weight.” “I can’t quit my job
and go out on my own in business.” Now, spiritual clutter
isn’t talked about as much, but it can be caused from things like
a lack of forgiveness or a lack of peace. Those last two, the emotional
and the spiritual clutter, they can be very subtle;
those can also be the most paralyzing. Basically, clutter is anything
that keeps you from living the life that you were meant to lead, anything that keeps you from
living the life that you want to lead, anything that stops you from accomplishing
your work and enjoying your life. Now, it may not seem possible,
but all types of clutter, all the ones I listed,
have one main cause. I have a wonderful friend, mentor,
and business coach, Barbara Hemphill, and she trademarked a phrase
that sums up this universal truth: Clutter is postponed decisions. Think about that for a minute,
it fits in every circumstance. The physical stuff –
you walk into your closet, or if you can walk in,
maybe you try to walk in, and there’s a whole section of clothes. And perhaps the postponed decision is: “Am I really going to put forth
the effort or the time to try to lose that last ten pounds
and fit into this whole shelf?” Or perhaps the postponed decision is: “Am I going to clean out my storage area
so I can take these things, and put them in bins,
and then rotate by season?” Paper – paper’s a huge one
that I deal with. We pick something up, we put it back down.
We pick something up, we put it back down. One pile becomes ten piles,
and then your boss is coming in, or you have friends
coming over for dinner, and you push them all in a bag
and put them in the closet. Digital – you do the same thing with email
that you do with paper. You open it, open it,
but you’re not making decisions. Sometimes the decisions are easy,
just delete, or reply, or put in a folder, but for some reason, we postpone them, and then we get to the point we don’t
even want to open up our computer. Now, I always had a very
good handle on the first two, the physical and the digital clutter. And I understood how the other ones
worked with my clients because very often
there’s an underlying reason that things got to the point
that they did. But I didn’t truly understand
how those affected you in your life until I got stuck. In 2012, I had heart surgery. I had a valve defect
that I’d had my whole life, and I had been told
“You’ll live into your 80s, no medical intervention, go,
you’re fine, everything’s great.” Well, the year leading up to my surgery, my father was diagnosed
with pancreatic cancer, given a very short time to live, and my oldest son was hospitalized
for suicidal thoughts. My heart figuratively
and then literally broke. So by April of 2012,
I was in heart failure and I had surgery. Now, I flew through.
I was the model patient. I was only in the hospital 48 hours,
I was up walking, I was doing fun things, I completed a half marathon
11 months after heart surgery. So everything looked great
and I was getting a lot of compliments, but I was stuck. I had massive amounts
of mental and emotional clutter. My mental clutter was fears. “What if it didn’t work?” “What if it breaks again?” “Why am I having these stupid,
crazy disease spells?” “Why do I still need a nap
every single day a year later?” My emotional clutter was guilt. “Why am I still here
and other people aren’t?” And let me tell you,
those two roll together to make some really nice
spiritual clutter along the way. So, now don’t hate me
when I tell you this part, but my house is very, very neat
and clean almost all the time. And I had a client
who was quite the opposite. She was depressed by her townhouse. She hadn’t had people over in years,
except for me, to try to work on it, and we became very close very quickly. And so, one day I was commenting to her that besides this stuff
that was dragging her down, she had a vibrant life,
and she was doing fun things, and learning, and continuing
her education, and going on trips, and I sort of prompted her a little bit, and I said, “Imagine what you could do
without all this stuff weighing you down.” And man, did she zing me. Because she said, “Look who’s talking.” And she said, “You keep telling me about
ideas that you have for your business and things you want to do,” and she said,
“and you’re not doing any of them. You are staying stuck also.” So, we challenged each other, and I must say, she got through
her issues a lot faster than I did, but I started facing it, I stopped postponing the decision
to look at the fear, and postponing the need
to deal with that guilt, and so a shift was made. Now, I don’t know what all of your
postponed decisions are in some of those areas, perhaps you also have a fear
that you’re not facing. Perhaps there’s someone
that you need to give forgiveness and you haven’t extended
that forgiveness yet. But what’s the answer? The key is, make a decision, right? Some are easy: Two weeks from today
we are cleaning out this garage. Some are grand. I’m going to drop out of school,
move to California, and write a novel. Some are minuscule: Every week
I’m going to delete two sales emails – or unsubscribe from two sales emails. But the key is, it’s for you. Your clutter of any type
is not a moral sentence. Guilt is not going to help whether
from someone else or from yourself. So everything you do in these areas
needs to be for you and for your sanity. There’s a saying: “Change is a result of action,
and action is the result of a decision.” So that means that you have the power, even in the midst
of that horrible overwhelm, to the point of being paralyzed, you have the power to affect change
by making a decision. Now, it has to have an action,
just like with the physical stuff: you’ve got to box it up, bag it up,
take it to the donation center, take it to the curb, whatever. For the others, you need
to take an action also whether it’s talk to a good friend,
get out in nature and meditate, journal, whatever it is, but there needs
to be an action tied to it. I heard something years ago,
and I love how it applies here, and that is “Give God something to bless.” In other words, do something,
move forward, make a decision, take an action, even if it’s tiny, and the universe
will reward you with momentum. The bottom line is, ultimately, the quality of your life
is determined by the decisions you make, about your stuff, and about yourself. So do something, move forward. Some clutter is going to come back, both the physical kind,
the emotional kind, that’s called life,
it’s going to keep coming back. But if you make those decisions
along the way and don’t postpone them, you will ultimately move from overwhelm
towards what we all want: peace. Thank you. (Applause)

  • Great lecture Kerry. The dizzy spells may be due to an episode where your blood pressure is too low, and the need for a nap may be because you're run down (deficient in vitamin Bs) your metabolism has tanked. I have had these problems and fixed them with help from my doctor and personal trainer.

  • Just like an oil change, you must declutter on a regular basis. It has to be a priority. Otherwise your life will always be a mess.

  • Excellent. I would also highly recommend Mel Robbins Ted talk on how to stop screwing yourself up. It is really really excellent. Nothing to do with clutter except how we view what holds us back. I watched it several times, and something finally clicked in my brain about what I was saying outwardly and inwardly. And I have been working very diligently for the last two or three months in the house. And it is showing. If you add all these other Ted talks with it, you can do quite well. Anybody in here that has a one-word answer, DHD. ABC D. Whatever. Is obviously a perfect person. But for the rest of us humans that aren't, it's more than a one-word answer. It is digging deep to find out what is hurting you the most, taking stock of what you can do, and being able to put 1 foot in front of the other to change it. Blessings to all of you. Have a great memorial day weekend. This makes four years since my mom died on memorial day weekend. And instead of feeling sad, I am feeling very positive now. So take care.

  • I dont find taking big decisions reduce clutter at all. This talk feels really superficial, cause it does not explain what it states.

  • I want to thank you for your talk. I'm grateful. This may have just touched on why I always feel overwhelmed and helpless in changing it. It was starting to bring on depression. I couldn't figure out what the down feeling were. Now I do. Thank you again.

  • play speed 2 works well to make this go faster…Thanks, interesting video.


  • hi everyone ,if anyone else trying to find out organization tips for home try Stiklind Fast Declutter Fixer (should be on google have a look ) ? Ive heard some unbelievable things about it and my colleague got excellent success with it.

  • Thank you for sharing your experience and wisdom. Well said and explained. Simple enough to apply. Make the decisions and move forward.

  • I listened to every word Kerry said. Thank you. Among the clutter in you tube, this talk of Kerry was a game changer.

  • My husband and I moved into our home 2.5 years ago and have not had any friends around for dinner because I cannot bring myself to unpack the remaining boxes in the formal lounge. It is stacked with boxes and furniture that we cannot use. I feel all of those things that you described at the beginning of the podcast. I am overwhelmed and have to get out of the room if I go in and try to sort it out. We are also paying for two storage units.I am getting sicker and sicker physically too. I stay at home in "lockdown" most of the day and surf for things to buy going to the PO box every week day to pickup something else. I listed all that companies that I am waiting for deliveries from. There are 12 at the moment
    Thank you so much for you talk. I needed to see and hear this. Funnily enough, yesterday, I had unfollowed quite a few streams on facebook and had decided to to actually unsubscribe to many email sales subscriptions today. It is perfect timing to fall across your podcast. I am not going out of the door without taking A BAG or two to the charity shop. My family (who have no idea how this is REALLY effecting me) will be very please but most of all I will gradually be released. I will be am avid follower until I get well. So scared to press the Comment button as I am very private person eeps!!!

  • Overwhelmed..,… overwhelmed r distractions!!!!! Ahhh this is hard stufff!!!! Clutter that's another story!!! I threw away 20 color books away and 10 shirts this is CRAZY stuff! Can we say Chaos literally!!

  • Yes we fill up every aspect of our lives…one more aspect…we [over]fill our schedules. Sadly, many of us over fill our childrens' schedules as well.

  • I used to be sympathetic, emphatic, compassionate, whatever you like to call it – supposedly a human virtue. I decided some years ago to declutter this feeling and not to mix with people who expect sympathy and mercy. I'm much more refreshed now. Instead, I show these people how to fulfill their life by demonstrating it with mine. I don't talk/preach to them. I only show it.

  • I know what i want in life since i was a kid, and got it, it was simple stuff, but family members always trying to get in the way. They made their life kaotic, pursuing their dream, but they are not happy, so they want to make me unhappy too. Im artistic, creative, resourceful, and Spiritual minded and happy. They try to bring me down, thru out my life, becuz they are not happy. And they don't get me at all. I'm ok, with the fact, that they don't get me, they are not meant to…………get it..

  • Would owning 6 acoustics and not moving forward in playing them as much as you would 1 or 2 and just playing them side by side be in this category? I just want to learn as fast as I started and keep moving forward. Everyone else says its fine and love what ive got.

  • Think…cluttering required especially in the Digital arena…to pave way for more peace and happiness.Whatever…is read and gone through…need to be deleted…/but for closely significant ones!!

  • This talk is cluttered. Although it is worth mentioning emotional, mental, and spiritual clutter, the value and importance of tackling physical clutter as an initial step toward clearing inner types of clutter. Just think of how you feel once you have cleaned one messy room. The tangibility and simplicity of a tidy room is a more effective illustration of the positive results of decluttering than to focus more upon clutter as it exists within the psyche.

  • Environment …

    Does it Reflect: your present Thoughts condition?
    (are your Thoughts in the: present, past, fears, hopes, desires, Future)?

    "Change your Thoughts – Change your Life"
    Dr Wayne Dyer

    Help your "Thoughts Focus" by "Changing your Environment"

    Create your "Current Environment" to reflect your Desired Life Goals –

    In doing so, you begin living your Desired Life Goals NOW –
    Learning through Feeling – in the Now – that which you are Accustomed to being in the Future

    If you don't learn the feeling of "Experiencing
    the Desired" – it can/will/does – remain in the Future in Thoughts, rarely to never Experienced in the Now

    You're welcome. Live your Dreams – Today ?

  • This has been helpful to me: for anything that comes in… something goes out. Throwing out raggedy clothes is a stickler for me. Getting past the wash/ wear, one more time, ritual. ( Suprise,I was raised, in near poverty…. hmmm.) Good talk.

  • The part about cluttered iphones makes a lot of sense. When I truly listened to some of the songs I had, I discovered that I didn't like them anymore, never did, or they made me feel emotionally like I didn't want. So, I deleted over half my large song library. The criteria for keeping the ones I kept was "does it make me feel good". Now, there are a few that make me feel sad, but those are ones that are written to do that.

  • She definitely conveys emotion in her talk, and it reminds us of our power to change as it simultaneously allows the feeling of "sinning" and missing the mark and the guilt that can disable action.
    I actually came into the video with a bit of judgement and now I have to say this is one of the best TedX videos I've ever seen.
    I'm working on a technology interface(app ecosystem) to allow humans to reconnect to natural law and natural interaction and reset/reconnect that attention/ dopamine /hormonal circuitry that has been hijacked by commoditized social networks.
    We are cluttered with concerns, and made impotent by our borrowed fears.
    I am dedicated to deep wealth solutions, and Kerry Thomas hit on so many of my motivations in this talk. She also poignantly hit how my arrow of intention has sinned, and I'm sitting right now in Bali in a room with far too much clutter, typing on a computer with far too much clutter and appreciating how she tied it all together in this moment..

  • Thank you ?? I could really use your help, everything in my life is a big mess, there is clutter everywhere but no one knows it but me.

  • I agree in many points for I was in there and felt it, and need to do something about it NOW!

  • Further than that, if you've got no clutter maybe you will have an empty place in your house, your schedule, your heart for welcoming what will eventually happen or come to you. Do not fear the void.

  • Yes it's either postponed decision or too many options wrongly taken into consideration.
    Minimizing Options and Optimizing Priorities or Decisions Can Be The Answer.

  • I loved her talk, especially that we think more stuff means more fun. And especially that everything comes down to a postponed decision. And "give God something to bless". Great talk.

  • Why don't you mention OCD people with nothing in their home, car or yard and nothing in their mind, computer or heart? -Theodore Alexander Vegh

  • without forgiving yourself you are not free to go ahead and fulfill your dream. THANKS for sharing this! and thanks for boiling the huge problems down to the single decisions… decisions are powerful and if we make them, we rule them. if we do not, they rule us. THANKS! This is a great speech. And yes. I am happy for you that your apartment is immaculate!

  • I never thought of all the types of clutter there are. Thank you so much for helping me to see it!
    I also lost my dad to pancreatic cancer. Hugs to you and your family?

  • Word SILENT also scrambled spells LISTEN ❤
    INNER PEACE ? iS WHAT let's GO of mental clutter
    GREAT video ?
    Thanks for sharing!

  • Wow I loved this talk! I recently decluttered my clothes and also people from my socia media and some friends! It feels great!

  • Bravo. Very true. Very concise. Thank you. You sound like you come from my region. I wonder if it's a cultural thing as well !

  • Postponement…decisions decisions decisions…anxiety can creep in quickly bringing along worry and fear!!
    Reading the Bible gives me rest and joy!

  • Kerry Thomas was so good I am going to replay this every morning.  I need to unclutter more than stuff in closets and around the house.Thank you Kerry Thomas.  You're my new best friend.

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