In Clutter Busting: Letting Go of What’s Holding You Back, I learned that clutter collection can be an addictive habit. Many of us are aware of the sentimental value of belongings. Photographs remind us of past lovers or deceased relatives. Gifts from former acquaintances remain “treasured” items, even after harsh falling outs. On first assessment, most of us assume these possessions deserve preserving.


Brooks Palmer shows how many of these items, to which we believe we ascribe sentimental value, can actually harm us by holding negative memories in our lives. The relationships ended badly or the relatives were abusive. Palmer thinks hanging on to relics of such people prevent us from experiencing love in our lives now or letting go of the negative message our Uncle Esther sent us about ourselves, etc.


I still believe that certain objects deserve to be preserved because of positive memories associated with them. However, I see Palmer’s point that many objects we hold on to are physical and psychological “clutter.” From Palmer’s perspective, materials that clog up one’s home, have never left sealed boxes between moves, and cause spiritual and emotional blocks from leading a happy life are clutter. Palmer uses a process he calls “clutter busting” to rid a home of unwanted excess and thereby feelings of inadequacy, self-hatred, bitterness, etc. etc. Reading about how clutter has worsened many of his clients’ lives has given me a different perspective on clutter. I am now more ready to believe that many of the objects we believe have sentimental value actually have detrimental value and should be expunged.


Review by Michelle Mueller

Author: Brooks Palmer

New World Library, 2009

pp. 219, $13.95