Should we unclutter people?


If you’ve been moving towards a more intentional life, then you’ll know that a big part of that is aligning your choices and actions with your longer-term goals.

The removal of excess stuff from your life is one of the first steps on your path towards a clutter-less life.

Excess stuff is bad for your health

Decluttering can help not only with your physical environment but with your mental wellbeing. Clutter affects numerous aspects of your life from sleep to anxiety.

Academics at UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives and Families (CELF)* discovered that clutter has a profound effect on people’s mood and self-esteem. In exploring the relationship between 32 families and the objects in their homes, the researchers took a deep dive into how middle-class Americans used the space in their homes. They considered how people interacted with the things they had accumulated over a lifetime and explored (amongst other things) the effect of what they called, “material saturation: mountains of possessions.”

One of the key findings was a link between high levels of cortisol (stress hormone) in women and a high density of household objects.

Clutter makes us stressed!

Minimalism offers strategies for dealing with this problem. Check out my #Unclutter2017 series on the blog for some ideas if you want to get started.

Personal baggage

But what about other areas of our life that leave us drained, feeling low or just plain miserable? Personal baggage (check out that metaphor) or relationships that no longer add value to our lives may also need to be re-examined if we are to truly live an intentional life.

To be able to enjoy what The Minimalists call a ‘meaningful life with less’, you’re going to want to spend your time with people who build you up, who are supportive and who become the ‘wind beneath your wings’ not the ‘downdraught’.

Toxic relationships

If excess stuff is bad for your health, then toxic people must surely be poisonous.

That’s quite a claim!

It’s certainly more sensitive and difficult to deal with someone than with something.

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.’ – Jim Rohn

There are things you can do to remove toxic people from your life.

I’m not talking about the closest relationship you have such as with a spouse or partner, but about people with whom you interract regularly. This might be individuals in a work environment, in a social setting, or in a situation in which you both have something in common (e.g. as part of a school community).

Take action

  • Be discerning in your use of social media. Block/unfollow/unfriend. Do it! Be bold.
  • Let a relationship cool off. Over time, a friendship that was once close can gradually fall away. You may experience a range of emotions, as you say goodbye to a period of your life that has ended, but you know the right thing to do.
  • Don’t be a water-cooler gossip. Don’t indulge in tittle-tattle, even on the periphery. Gossip is contagious.
  • Pull back without a fuss. Pursue the experiences (and relationships) that add value to your life, leaving less time for those from whom you want to create distance.
  • Be neutral and non-committal. You’ve just moved on. That’s it.
  • Seek out like-minded people whose company you’ll enjoy whilst also cherishing the positive relationships you have nurtured over many years. This is where you’ll want to invest your precious time.

The Minimalists are famously quoted as saying, “You can’t change the people around you, but you can change the people around you.” By making intentional choices about who you spend time with impacts on your day-to-day existence, thus impacting on the overall picture.

If all else fails, remember this:

“No matter how close we are to another person, few human relationships are as free from strife, disagreement, and frustration as is the relationship you have with a good dog.” – Dean Koontz

* Details of the CELF study and its resultant book (Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century) can be found here:


Discover the Midlands Minimalist Community

If you’re a regular reader of the blog, you may wish to join the Midlands Minimalist Community. With newsletter updates roughly twice a month including unique content, click below to come on board!

Note that if you’ve signed up to receive the latest blog posts via email, this doesn’t automatically subscribe you to the Community newsletter, so click on the button below to join.


5 thoughts on “Should we unclutter people?

  1. LOVE this post! Those of us that care about being intentional about our possessions should care EVEN MORE about being intentional about our people! Great writing and great tips.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I appreciate this piece of writing. I have been feeling guilty about easing out of several relationships, but I know it is for my best. I really feel so much better.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Brenda. I appreciate your comments and am so glad you found this helpful. I thought carefully about writing it.

      I really believe that it’s important to be true to yourself. Being authentic in how you interact with others is so important.

      I also think that some friendships or acquaintances aren’t forever. You won’t know this until later. One of my oldest friends is someone I met when our babies were tiny. We’re still pals today. Others I met around the same time in my life have moved on and so have I. That’s OK too. I

      I wish you well.


Leave a Reply to Midlands Minimalist Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s