Rats and bugs. Ugh! No, I don't mean rodents and roaches, I mean the human kind - pack rats and clutter bugs. If you live with one, everyday can feel like a battle. You probably don't understand why they just can't let go of the clutter and keep the place tidy. You may have resorted to constant nagging. You might even have done the unthinkable and tossed out some of their 'junk'. You may even be ready to up the ante and issue an ultimatum. But do you really want to do that? I am guessing no. What you really want is to see some cooperation.
You can get that cooperation, and truly help your clutter bug in the process, by being supportive and empathetic. Follow these simple steps to bring harmony back into your space.
1.Set an appointment to talk about the issue.
Lay some ground rules ahead of time. Agree that neither of you will place blame or become defensive. This is a time for both of you to share how you see the situation. I would encourage you to ask clarifying questions. Consider paraphrasing back what you have heard to make sure you are truly understanding each other. The end result should be a greater understanding on both parties about what it is that is bothersome about the situation.
2.Choose a specific issue that you will each work on.
For example if you are prone to yelling about the clutter, you may decide that from now on you will speak in a quiet, respectful tone. If your clutter bug always leaves their clothes on the floor, they may agree to focus on hanging up and putting away their garments. The idea here is that you each commit to one small change and then really work on making the change happen. Obviously this process will have to be repeated to get the whole situation resolved, but you will be much more likely to be successful when you work in bit size chunks.
3.Acknowledge the effort you are putting in.
Show appreciation for each other and be specific in what you are seeing. This will reinforce your new habits. Plus it just feels good to hear nice things!
4.Agree to an acquisition hiatus.
This means neither party brings in anything new, outside of absolute necessities, to the space for a minimum of thirty days. I would encourage you to renew this agreement until you have a space that suits you both. This will allow you to pare back and clear away without having to deal with fresh clutter.
5.Ask how you can help.
This is how you support each other. You literally ask what you can do to help and then you do it. And you do it even if it doesn't make sense. You are free to ask why, just be sure to do it from a place of appreciate inquiry. When we are truly inquisitive, versus antagonistic, we open the door for authentic dialogue and build trust.
If you follow this process you are sure to see improvements, both in your space and in your relationship. Peace and harmony will be the end result. And isn't that what we all want?
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