Ep. 103 Living a Clutter-Free Life as an Empath with Tracy McCubbin

Listen here:

In this episode, we will cover:

  • All things decluttering.
  • How clutter comes with a lot of mental, emotional and physical effects – which will infiltrate all areas of your life.
  • Emotional blocks which prevent us from decluttering
  • Letting go of things that came from someone who is no longer with us
  • The deadly battle and messaging of modern-day consumerism
  • The waste that our consumerism has on the planet and how we can be more aware of our practices overall

Additional Resources:

COURSE: Intuitive Soul School (Digital)

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BOOK: You Can Heal Your Life

Louise Hay is one of my favorite authors on self-development and releasing limiting beliefs. In this book she’ll show you how to completel rewrite your story.


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Episode transcript:

Welcome to the healing uncensored podcast. My name is Sarah Small and I’m a holistic business coach and intuitive healer who supports Empath and creating a thriving body business and life. Healing their own chronic illness as an Empath maybe you become fascinated with energy, and more specifically, all the emotional, spiritual and holistic healing modalities that my doctor never told me about. I began to share my insights Journey online and over time built a powerful community and business supporting women who are also on their path to healing. 

Think of this podcast as your uncensored and no-BS guide to navigating life, health, and entrepreneurship as a highly sensitive person. You’ll get no-nonsense and totally holistic tips from me in real-time as I navigate this healing journey right beside you. Now let’s get started.

SARAH: Welcome to today’s episode, I’m curious to know if you’ve ever considered about the energy that things around you have and how it affects you as an Empath. If not, this is going to be very eye-opening today. If you have I hope you still find lots of insights. My guest is Tracy McCubbin, and she refers to herself as the obsessive, compulsive delightful, and she has turned that into a booming business while working for a major television director in Los Angeles. Tracy discovered that she had the ability to see through any mess and clearly envision a clutter-free space coupled with keen in time management and organizational skills. Tracy soon found more and more people were asking for her help and before she knew it the qualified was born. 12 years later and thousands of decluttered homes later Tracy knew it was time to take what she had learned working with her clients and write a book to help others dealing with clutter. She is the author of the newly published bookmaking space, clutter-free, the last book on decluttering you’ll ever need. 

I am super excited to dive into this conversation today, we’re going to be talking on things like how too much stuff in your bedroom can cause insomnia, how stuff around you, especially in your kitchen, influences your food choices, how women in clutter households have higher cortisol and clutter it’s just a constant to-do list. So there are lots of good gems inside this episode. I hope you enjoy. 

Welcome to the show, Tracy, I’m so excited to have you on today.

TRACY: Thank you. I’m super excited to be here.

SARAH: So you seem like the queen of decluttering, you’ve been on many places, many shows to talking about decluttering, have a new book on decluttering and just may use in our life, I’d love to hear what initially inspired you to start that path personally and professionally?

TRACY: Oh, that’s a fantastic question. As my mother will attest, I have always been organized on a bit of a chaotic childhood. So I think I was always trying to make order out of chaos and I’ve had the pleasure to travel quite a bit in my life, I did a year abroad. I’ve taken a lot of really big trips and so pretty early on, I realized you don’t need a lot of stuff. And then when I started my professional career out here in Los Angeles, I was working as a personal assistant and when you’re a personal assistant, you do everything. 

So I was doing all this stuff and getting requests from friends and my bosses like, Oh my grandma passed away! And can you help me sort through the paperwork? Or my business went under and I need to dig myself out? Or could you come to take a look at my closet? And so the jobs just started coming, I didn’t even think that I had a business and a friend of mine was like, I think that’s a real thing. No, I’m just an assistant that’s, and she’s like, no, no, no, I think it’s actually a thing.

So I built a website, and I kind of have my little sign-out and that was 12 years ago and over 2000 clients later so really was an organic journey and I think that when I entered this field, it’s a very popular thing right now, but when I entered it, it was really focusing on organizing, and no one was talking about the stuff. No one was talking about the fact that to be organized, the best way to be organized is to have less stuff. So I think I really started the stuff conversation and watch this field take a pretty big shift. 

What are the emotional blocks that keep us hanging on to things in our life?

SARAH: So interesting and we’re just coming off of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, all of the thanksgiving, post-thanksgiving shopping and recording this actually on giving Tuesday, I just thought it was so timely for us to be having this conversation especially as we kind of end that consumerism weekend and start to enter into Christmas season and Christmas time and Christmas gifts and just the impact of all this good stuff can have on our life. Can you talk about some of the emotional blocks that are related to the inability to let go of stuff? So I’m sure there are people listening who might be looking around and wherever they’re listening from and be like, well, yeah, there’s a lot of stuff in here. But I feel like I am attached to it or I can’t let go of it and I love that you delve into this in your book and I’d love to just hear your thoughts today on, what are the emotional blocks that keep us hanging on to things to stuff in our life?

TRACY: So I call them the emotional clutter blocks and what I think they are, is that they are stories that we have told ourselves over and over again about why we can’t let go of stuff. And as we know, if we tell ourselves a story long enough, it becomes a truth. So all of a sudden, we have these truths, like, Oh I paid too much money for it, my grandma gave it to me and she’s passed, I couldn’t possibly let go of it, even though I hate it, I oh, I don’t wear my nice clothes because I don’t feel worthy that it really pushes emotional buttons in us from frugality to sentimentality to self-worth you know how we want the rest of the world to see us and that this stuff has come to us with no meaning shows up at our house with no meaning and we imbue all this meaning on top of it and then it gets a hold on us and what happens is our house stops working for us, right? At the end of the day, our house is a tool. It’s where we sleep, and we eat and we rest and we go out into the world but if your kitchen kind of is so cluttered with stuff that you can’t cook yourself a healthy meal, you’re going to order out. If your closet is a disaster, and you can’t get dressed in the morning calmly and feel great when you walk out the door, you’re going to show up to work a mess. 

So the effect that this clutter has on us is super emotional and super deep and people you know everybody exactly what you said people are like, I want to declutter but I can’t and I don’t know why. I’m just a bad housekeeper or I’ve just lazy like, I don’t know, it’s so much deeper than that. And so what I wanted to do with this book was illuminate the seven emotional clutter blocks that I’ve seen in my thousands of clients over and over again and make that you know, enlighten them to people. So they go, Oh, I’m not just a lazy housekeeper, there’s actually something really here. So it’s been amazing and people are responding. I mean, I get emails a couple of times a day, like I never thought of it this way. I never looked at it. I have the same relationship with food and now I’m realizing it. I have it was stuff.

SARAH: That’s super interesting. I could see where that would definitely cross over the relationship to the stuff in our lives to food or even in relationships, I feel like there could be crossover there as well. One of the points I think it’s number six that you mentioned is that sometimes we feel trapped with other people stuff and I certainly see this within my family where a grandparent or great grandparent passes away and they leave all this stuff behind. So it’s nice furniture or mementos or old China sets or whatever the stuff is but all of a sudden, there’s like almost this feeling of responsibility, of sense of it wasn’t yours that you can’t get rid of it, have you encountered a lot of that? 

Letting go of things from someone who has left our lives

TRACY: A lot. That’s a huge part of my business and you put it so well that it becomes a sense of responsibility. You’re like, how can I possibly let this go, they left it to me or we cleaned out the house and then all of a sudden, it jumps from being a lovely heirloom that reminds you of your grandmother, you loved to a bird, you know, to the point that people are renting outside storage spaces to store this stuff that they’re never going to use and what people need to understand is that that stuff isn’t the person right? It was the tools that they use and I’d rather see you keep one thing that you love, love, love, love, love that every time you look at it, you have this amazing memory of your grandmother versus paying $200 a month for a storage unit of furniture you’re never going to use. And it becomes family law, right? The family’s told you Oh, that’s important. Oh, that’s going to be worth a lot of money. Oh, you’re the one that has to keep it you’re like. Well, why are you keeping it? It’s so important, you know, and then and I think that as we get, you know, as the boomers are starting to transition, and people are we’re just getting, people already have a house full of stuff and then you’re like, oh my golly, I have all this other stuff coming. 

So it becomes a really interesting conversation. And also, it’s making my generation I’m in my 50s start to think about how much stuff do I need? When I go, who’s going to follow burden on that there. I think there needs to be a shift in all of our consciousness about how we’re dealing with this stuff.

SARAH: Definitely. I in the past well, month and also four years ago lost both of my brothers and after those things, Jordan for years ago, went into his room and he was a collector of things. I wouldn’t call him like a hoarder or anything but he was a collector of many things. And he had traveled many places and so there were a lot of mementos ever going in there and going wow, like me to save like, my initial reaction was me to save all the stuff and after sitting in there for a little while, and just kind of like sitting on his bed and looking around, I was like, You know what, no, as you said, this isn’t him. These things are not him. I have strong memories of him. I have dozens of pictures online that don’t take up any space of him. I have some voice recordings and videos of him  and so I picked like four things, a couple of books, and a T-shirt and I took those with me to my home and then losing my other brother about five weeks ago, I went into his room and he was also a collector of many things and I went in the same thing and I sat on his bed and I just was like, what, what are the things that I can pick that are actually meaningful, that would remind me of him and so I haven’t actually right over here sitting next to me like one of his hats that he used to wear all the time and that’s something that I can like, show my future children someday and be like, this was your uncle Joe’s or this was your uncle Jordans but I don’t need all of that stuff to be able to hold and capture the memory of them and you think that it’s easy to get caught up in again, it was their stuff and so I’m not allowed to throw it away. And I feel fortunate in that like that their room wasn’t in my home so I’m not responsible for actually getting rid of it, right? Gathering what was most important to me and that feels so much lighter than having to bring all of that into.

TRACY: Because what you’re doing is you’re actually honoring the memory, right? You’re honoring though that when you look at those few things you remember them at their best, and you’re the best of your relationship and really, when people keep a lot of that stuff, a lot of stuff of someone who’s passed away, it keeps them stuck in the grieving and look, when you lose a family member, you are going to grieve forever, right? You’re always that grieving process shifts and morphs but you’re always going to do it but if you’re burdened by so much of this stuff, you’re gonna be stuck in it and I can promise if they could come back and visit you or send you a message or be an angel, they wouldn’t want you to be burdened right would want you to be happy. 

And so people think that it’s just we don’t want to lose the connection, right? That’s what we want. We want that connection to that person who’s passed. So I want that connection to be beautiful, and not burdensome.

The deadly idea of ‘someday’ and modern-day consumerism

SARAH: Absolutely. And I hear a lot of people when they talk about going through old cabinets or drawers or closets looking at all the individual things that do exist in there and then like, there’s this little voice inside their head that says well, I might need that someday, someday I’ll fit it. 

TRACY: Someday, I may need that or as I call it, clutter block number seven, this stuff I keep paying for, right? This is the idea of like look, the future of someday we could craft any kind of amazing scenario that like I might need a spaceship someday, I might need it and you can’t burden yourself now. You can’t weigh yourself now with the thing that may be or maybe you’re not going to need. And look, honestly, there’s something that comes along that you really need. Chances are there’s someone in your life you can borrow it from. You could probably rebuy it cheaper than it’s costing you to store it. There are very few things that are going to come along that you need that you’re not going to be able to get. 

Unfortunately, with Amazon and Instacard and Postmate, you get everything right away. So that’s the other side of it that we’re just getting inundated with the ability to shop without even having to put our pants on. 

SARAH: Good to hear about on Amazon, I do not shop with my pants on.

TRACY: And if you think about Amazon, I was thinking about this the other day like it’s a little like a slot machine, right? Like you, you ting, ting, ting, ting, ting, and your order and then the next day like you’re like, oh, somebody bought me a present right? Like you get this reward if I did this, I push these little buttons and then this thing appeared. And so, you know, on the other side of all this Cyber Monday, Black Friday, we’re just, you know, the package is I live in a building with a front desk and the packages down there are insane. You know, and we all live in a loss like, I’m like, what are you gonna do with all this stuff?

SARAH: Where’s it going, right? 

TRACY: Exactly, and the messaging is really clear. You need this, you need this, you need this. And one of the things that I tell my clients all the time is just swapped out the word need to want, just admit that you want it. I want a new pair of jeans. I really want a pair of combat boots for the winter. I want to do I need them? No, but I want them and when I got to that point of wanting then it made the shopping not be so manic. 

SARAH: It’s so easy to create that impulse and to have the immediate gratification of just a package showing up at your door that I think that and then the cardboard that comes along with it and I was just recently, this morning actually looking at some of the statistics because of this highly consumerism weekend we just got through, and just really appalled by how much waste we create. And so that makes me consider or question if I am on the emotional side, finally ready to let go and realizing that like someday, my husband maybe never going to happen, and I’m ready to actually let go of this stuff and I’m not just going to put it in a storage unit. I think I saw a statistic and in your media kit that was like one in 10 Americans have off-site storage space.

TRACY: That they will never go to. Do you know that only 25% of Americans can park their cars in their garage?

SARAH: That’s insane.

TRACY: 75% of Americans cannot fit their cars in their garage.

SARAH: We live on a street that has two-car garages, but they’re pretty small like it’s like for your car and like some wall kind of shelving space and I see that on our street as you drive down, I would say at least half of the people have maybe one car in the garage or zero cars in their garage and my husband and I have made this commitment that two cars will always fit our garage.

TRACY: Good job, good job.

SARAH: Before our wedding, we have two cars, SUV big car inside of the garage and we never want that to change because we don’t want to

TRACY: No, I mean, the joke I make is everybody puts their $40,000 cars on the street and then lives next door to their own teeny tiny mini landfill because if you can’t get to that stuff in there, you’re not using it that’s the thing about off-site storage. It’s off-site, you’re not using it.

SARAH:  I have been in no exaggeration, I can’t even count. I mean, I’ve probably been in 500 storage units with clients, easily. There has never been anything that we have uncovered in the storage unit that’s worth more than what they paid to store it ever. And I think if we could all just wrap our minds around that and reframe our stuff and what it actually means, then we might be able to let go of it a little bit easier.

There’s an ongoing cost to hanging on to so much stuff.

TRACY: Well, I think that also that, sorry to interrupt, but I think that it’s what also I want people to realize is that their stuff once they’ve bought, it still keeps costing them money, right? We think, Oh, I paid for it, and I’m done with it. But no, you’ve got to pay to store it. You’ve got to pay to maintain it. You’ve got to pay to have someone haul it away when you don’t want it anymore that there’s this ongoing cost and if you think about a scenario where you know, I see this, I get called in all the time where people have a guest room in their house and it’s become the storage tutor and they’re like well, I’m not paying for off-site storage run like, but you have a room in your house you cannot use and so let’s say you want your grandkids to come to visit, let’s say you wanted a friend to come to spend the weekend? They can’t, that’s a cost to you and I think people need to sit with the impact of that cost and understand that it’s ongoing. 

SARAH: Yeah. A large percentage of the listeners, my community are Empaths or highly sensitive people who deeply feel the energy of other people, but also their surroundings and I think this relates so strongly to the Empath. For me, I’m in my office space right now. And I intentionally surround myself with plants and with like minimal things, minimal stuff, because when I am in a space where there’s just the energy that is coming off of different objects, especially older objects that have like, been in many people’s lives or hands or have stories attached to them, even I had to clear all my books out of here I have some minimal books right here on the bottom of my shelf. I used to have this huge bookshelf and it felt claustrophobic energetically for me that by clearing this space as the Empath who can feel so deeply, I felt like I could read and now especially in an office space, like creative ideas come through to me for my business and for the podcast and for writing and it just feels so much more freer to not have the energy of all that around me as well.

TRACY: So I have a great story. I have a client, he was a lovely, lovely human, lovely human, very handsome, just an amazing man and had just retired but been able to retire pretty young and was very sporty and was looking for his great love. He was ready, he kind of did some other relationships and was like I’m retired now I’m financially secure. I’m going to move to the beach like everything was in place and so he was we were declaring his house to get him ready to move and we went into his the living room where he entertains people. And the bookshelves were full of every self-help book you could ever imagine. I mean, name it, it was up there. And I was like, let’s talk about this for a second. Like, this is so amazing that you have this wisdom and that you’ve done this work on yourself. But if I was a woman coming in to meet you, or date you or see your home for the first time and I saw all this, I would be like, wow, there’s a lot of baggage here. You know, I’m like, if you go back if they’re the ones that you go back and refer let’s put them in your office or let’s put him somewhere, and he was like, I don’t refer to him anymore. Like I’ve done that work get rid of all of them, I met the loveliest woman. like literally like a month later, like it just you know, it just cleared the energy out because the weight of that deep internal work that we all need to do was in his main lesson space. And so I think that for Empaths, we need to understand, look I described clutter as a constant to-do list And when you have a pile of clutter, all you think is, I have to deal with it. I have to deal with that. I got to deal with that and so if you are an Empath that’s going to weigh on you, you know that my clients describe it as like a literal weight on their chest.

SARAH: Yep and that’s what I was feeling in my office space and I just felt like, there was this weight that I couldn’t carry, it was constant because I couldn’t escape it because this is my home. This is my office, this is where I do my work. So something within the space had to change so that I could feel different.

TRACY: Exactly. And look, if you want to refer to one of those books, you walk out to where they are, and you get it. You know, it’s no, and I think people really need to I mean, the first thing I tell people when I’m working with them and they have a really cluttered bedroom is do you have insomnia? 90% of the time, no. And I’m like, Okay, well, you have 12 unread books stacked next to your bed. Like that’s just sending you this message. I got to read this or I’m not getting this done or I’m not smart at, you know, all the messaging that it sends, it’s intense. It’s really intense.

What are sustainable ways to get rid of stuff, without creating more waste?

SARAH: So for the person who is light bulbs are going off and they’re like, wow, it’s really time for me to get rid of some stuff. What is the best or most sustainable way to actually then get rid of stuff so that we’re not creating more waste in the world? 

TRACY: It’s great. So I called this conscious donating. I have a whole chapter in my book about it. It’s about donating mindfully. So it’s about keeping as much out of the landfill as possible. It’s also sort of breaking down your donations so that they just don’t all go, those big organizations are fine, and they do pretty good work, I’m not going to call them out. But for instance, like with all my clients’ stuff, we separate out sheets and towels, we take it to the animal shelter. Suitcases go to the couple organizations that work with the foster kids, there’s just if you can break it down a little bit and get it to who needs it, then it’s going to be better off.

Also, some of the stuff is going to end up in the landfill and I need people to like to think about that, right? Like, if this ends up there, maybe the next time before you buy something new, you’re going to go all right, where’s this gonna go? I just followed this great. Somebody turned me on to this great new hashtag on Instagram. I think it’s like, then I forget the nifty, thrifty chat, I’ll give it to you and you’ll put it in the show notes. Yes, basically people putting pictures of themselves in completely thrifted outfits and it’s a fantastic, and it’s like everyone from like 18-year-olds to 70-year-olds, and everybody looks great and they’re like, I got this whole outfit for $5 and it’s this, you know, so if that’s where you’re thinking there are so many other ways that you can buy to buy more consciously. 

SARAH: That’s such a brilliant point and I think it would be so helpful for people to have just like a mini-guide on well like you said, sheets and blankets for example or the suitcases or the clothes.

TRACY:  Yeah, if you go to me, I know, I’m trying to find out if anybody’s out there that works. So fun. I’m trying to find an organization that takes draws. It’s been my goal. I have a great resource page on my website which will give at the end of my website, there’s a resource page of here are places to think about donating and it’s also in the back of the book. So I would put together those resources for people.

SARAH: I love that because then you can feel good about also releasing that weight from yourself knowing that it’s actually going to be used and not potentially just thrown away even though you think you’re donating it or that you think it’s going to be used, maybe it gets thrown away. And instead, like, this is an organization that can actually use this and it can have another life of its own and not end up in a landfill. That’s something like a value that’s very important to me is sustainability and just taking care of the environment. And so while I try to live this more minimal lipstick life and when I do give back or get rid of stuff, I try to take it to be donated. I want it to be donated where it can be used most effectively.

TRACY: Exactly. And you know, there are a couple of great, you know, I live in California so we have wildfires all the time and they’re there. Been a couple amazing articles about like, look, when there’s a wildfire you know, when people lose their homes, think about what you’re donating because if you just throw like a prom dress in you know, wool coat and like, a bunch of crap in a box and take it to the nonprofit that’s distributing it, that’s manpower that they have to sort through it. So it’s like, Okay, if I lost my home and I lived in California, what would I really need? You know, and so I think it’s again, it’s consciousness and mindfulness that we need to put into just getting rid of it all. 

What steps can an aspiring minimalist take?

SARAH: So let’s talk about the aspiring minimalist which I think it’s more to the root of this clutter problem and you mentioned it before where it’s like as I get rid of this stuff, I’m actually then reflecting taking the time to reflect back on in the future I’m not going to be buying so much I’m going to be buying more consciously so for the aspiring minimalist who has this goal but feels like that as a hard to obtain goal, what are the first steps that they can take if that’s the person listening to start living with less stuff and I just want to add to my husband that I recently bought a second home in the mountains and it’s funky, very funky. It’s an old Airstream trailer with like a living room attached to it but it’s 600 square feet. And so it’s, I think, technically tiny houses are more on the side of like 400 square feet but it’s close to the size of a tiny house and as we were putting new stuff into this house and actually taking a lot of what we already had and just putting it there for an Airbnb rental checking up at least have the basic needs. I walk in and I’m like, Wow, it’s so nice in here because it’s so minimalist. It’s not it doesn’t have all my stuff and it’s just a beautiful place instead to like spend time and to clear your head and we love going up there to getaway? But back to my question, how do we start living with less stuff like that more tiny house lifestyle, that’s also becoming really popular?

TRACY: That’s such a great question, Sarah. So the first step is when you have started or as you are doing the decluttering process to really pay attention to what it feels like to have less stuff, right? Like, sit with it and be like, oh, I’m actually sleeping better. I’m actually cooking better. I can actually have people over to entertain, like, look at what you’re getting out of because I don’t want you to just start decluttering just because I’ve got to do it and everybody’s doing it on Pinterest. It’s like I want you to know why you’re doing and I want you to create the vision for your home, and then just see how good it feels and it’s like you said if you, I get a call all the time from people who want me to come to declutter, and there and it usually a lot of times it’ll come like well, we bought a second, we bought a place at the beach or we bought a place at the mountain and it’s really where I want to be all the time and I realized that because it has less stuff. So I think if you can really own what it feels like to have less stuff and to also pay attention to how much time your stuff sucks up, right?

 Are you like, how long is it taking you to get dressed in the morning? Do you have to move everything off the bed to go to sleep at night? Like is there a real-time cost? And once you see the benefits of it, then it’s going to be so much easier to maintain.

SARAH: Yeah, that’s a really good tip and guideline to live by. Because I also do feel like this is a lifestyle change that we can absolutely create, and it can feel them really sustainable to just live in that way. I talked about this in the book all the time, is that there’s no right way right? You shouldn’t only have 30 things in your house or 6 pieces of clothing. I know, I Live half time by myself half time with my boyfriend and we don’t have any, you know, his kids are grown. So we have a very different amount of stuff than a family of four, right? When you start to have kids, you’re going to get more stuff. So it’s not about there’s a prescribed amount. It’s about what works for you. 

What really works for you, like be honest about it. You know, do you know where everything you need in your houses? Like can you go and put your hands on it in five minutes, or digging around for stuff? It’s not working.

That’s another good visualization for everyone to try out of thinking of where does that one thing and do I need to move a bunch of crap?

TRACY: Exactly, exactly. So you’re thinking about where you’re the happiest, right? Where are you that you’re like, I just love to go to the beach. Like, I love to go to the spa. There’s not a lot of stuff in either of those places. 

SARAH: Yeah, to me those, like embody this just simplicity and nature and being able to take a deep breath.

TRACY: Exactly, because we need our homes to restore us. 

SARAH: I wanted to come back to the point you made about insomnia. I think that that’s probably going to resonate with a lot of people and I’m curious to know what if any other health and wellness effects do you see of people holding on to stuff or clutter in their homes in their lives, do you see that show up in a physical way beyond just Insomnia?

Does holding onto stuff, manifest itself in physical ways?

TRACY:  All the time. There are scientists that have done so many studies. Women who live in cluttered houses have very, very high incidences of cortisol. Cortisol is completely jacked up, which we know is our fight or flight hormone we know that adds fat to our middle of those things right so that’s, it’s jacking up your cortisol. They just did a fascinating study where they put people in a cluttered kitchen, very cluttered kitchen and they offered them a carrot and a cookie and almost everyone took the cookie. Then they took the same no it was the same people are a different groups of people put them in an uncluttered kitchen, offered them a carrot and a cookie and most people took the carrot. So there’s something about the amount of clutter that is making them choose unhealthy food.

SARAH: I am amazed but I mean not like shocked that that would be the case but that study to me is fascinating. 

TRACY: Fascinating, Right?

SARAH:  It makes so much sense to where it’s like I see that even in my own kitchen, which we keep clean but sometimes like the dishes stack up or whatever. Even when my sink is full of dirty dishes that happens from time to time. I am more likely to be like, let’s just order out Indian versus let’s make an offer super something.

Decision Fatigue

TRACY: Right, exactly. And the other thing, and I don’t know if you’ve talked about this on your show with your listeners, but have you talked about decision fatigue at all?

SARAH SMALL: Not in that specific language, but it sounds like something else I talked about. So I’d love to hear your point of view.

TRACY: So they, Yale did this, might be Harvard did a really big study and they found that the part of the brain that makes decisions get tired very easy. The more decisions that make, the more tired it gets and when it gets tired, it defaults to making bad decisions. So it’s the reason why when you wake up in the morning rested and you’re like today’s steamed broccoli and chicken kind of day and then you know, you’re at work still at 8 pm at night and you’re like, why am I eating this pepperoni pizza? Why is this happening because your brain is exhausted that part of your brain and it defaults to bad decisions? 

So clutter, every piece of clutter is a decision. Where do I put this? Where do I live? What do I do with this? So if you’re living in a cluttered home, you are putting yourself in constant decision fatigue. If your closet is so packed that you can’t move your hanger an inch, like making an outfit is like, well, I don’t know. I’m just gonna wear what’s that in the laundry basket. So it’s a direct correlation, the amount of stuff to how many decisions you have to make in a day.

SARAH SMALL: Yeah. I really hope that connecting clutter and stuff materialistic things to how they can influence you on so many different levels, including our health and wellness inspires people to go open their closet and take a look.

TRACY: And just really think that. you know, a lot of people who are cluttered you know, they have a lot of shame around it and they’ve heard their whole lives like you’re messy and go clean your room, and that’s not where I’m coming from. That’s not what the book is about, that’s not what my messaging is my missing genius. I want you to be happy in your home, I want you to be rested. I want you to refill you well and maybe look at how much stuff you have. And is it doing that for you?  You know, it’s funny just to you know, I have a question. I have a quiz in the book, kind of to see where you are on the clutter scale and one of the questions I asked is have you ever started crying getting dressed in the morning? It’s like because your closets is a nightmare. And so many people are like, Oh, yeah, all the time. I think I don’t want you to start your day crying, know what I want and I want you to put on an outfit and go out in the world. 

SARAH: I’m so glad you brought this point out because it’s not about shaming people for having the clutter or the disorganized drawer or closet or whatever kitchen. It’s about, there’s a solution. There’s a different way for you to feel better.

TRACY: Absolutely. And look, for a lot of people this doesn’t come to them naturally, right? They’re not organized by nature. They’re not, you know, I mean, I’m crazy the other direction which has its own set of issues. But this isn’t about that. if you didn’t know how to play the violin, and you want to learn how to play the violin, you would go get a violin teacher, if you don’t know how to be organized. If you don’t know how to declutter, then I want to teach you. I don’t want to shame you could come there could be a million reasons, right? And if you want to change your life, the help is out there to find a new way of being which is super exciting.

SARAH: Thank you so much. I feel inspired even though I consider myself pretty minimalistic and it’s like pretty organized and that it does come naturally to me, so it’s not so I have to like, practice that too much. But even this conversation today has me going, wow, there’s still stuff that I don’t need to be holding on to like and there are so many ways to be able to give in to let that be recycled and up-cycled into something that can be used like not better, but maybe you can be more appreciated in a different location in somebody else’s hands. And so I’m feeling very inspired to go do that today and especially like I said, coming up off of this consumerism weekend and into the holiday season which again, there’s so much consumerism, but I think it’s also a real time to like go back to our values and to give back and I just again, I just want to say thank you for inspiring me today or really appreciate that

TRACY: You’re so welcome and I do since I know this is going to air pretty soon I am starting on the fifth on my social media channels, Tracy McCubbin, well I can give all my handles. I’m going to start 12 days of DEV free giving, it’s 12 different every day, it’s a different idea of a gift that you can give that doesn’t involve stuff.

SARAH: And I’m super excited. I am so happy to see what those ideas are and how to clutter-free gift this season and, you know it might mean we have a small Christmas celebration at our home, but like it might mean like a less stuff underneath the tree but just as much joy in my loved one’s heart and so I’m excited to see what those 12 days exist or consist of and we’ll definitely link to that. Is there anything else that you want to share today, Tracy or also where can everyone find you?

TRACY: I just love talking to this community as an Empath myself. I just want people to understand how much their stuff can lift them up and also burden them down. And I’m super easy to find the book is called making space, clutter-free. The last book on decluttering you’ll ever need and I’m on social media as Tracy_McCubbin, and Facebook and Instagram are kind of the most active places to find me.

SARAH: Amazing. We will drop all your links in the show notes and I just appreciate you and all of your helpful tips, tricks, and knowledge today.

TRACY: Thank you Thank you so much for having me and happy holidays.

SARAH SMALL: Happy Holidays everyone.

Thank you for tuning in and I hope you learn a lot and are just as inspired to go clean out your closet as I am today. If you happen to be listening to this on Tuesday, December 3 which is Giving Tuesday, I want you to run over to autoimmunetribe courses.com and scroll through the over 15 courses that are available there for you today because today on I am offering 15% of the tuition or enrollment investment of each and every course to be donated to a local animal rescue or shelter of your choice. 

So go scroll through, find a course that resonates with you there as little as $7. Most of them are the range of 22 to 100. And again, 50% of that is going to a local rescue or shelter of your choice. This is my way of giving back this holiday season and supporting a waste-free investment for you in your life or you could even purchase one of these courses for somebody you love in your life as a gift.

 Thanks again for tuning in, and I’ll see you next time.

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December 3, 2019


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