Just about everyone knows somebody who swears that getting hypnotized helped kick a smoking habit or shed 20 pounds. But what about getting hypnotized to get organized?

Hypnotherapist Beverly Taylor, author of the book and program “Clutter to Clarity: the Easy Key to Organizing,” specializes in using hypnotherapy to help the chronically cluttered—people she calls “clutterers.”

The SpareFoot Blog chatted with Taylor to find out how and why hypnotherapy can help some people let go of clutter.

First of all, how do you spot a chronically cluttered person?

Chronic clutter has been going on a long time, and there’s no end in sight. When people are chronically cluttered, there’s always an emotional component. It’s usually fairly deep-seated, and it’s usually based in early childhood.

What kinds of problems can chronic clutter cause in people’s lives?

It can be horrendous. It can destroy marriages and create huge rifts in families, huge amounts of negativity. Typically, non-clutterers will have a very negative judgment of clutterers.

So, how do you use hypnotherapy to help people with clutter problems?

Well, as I said, there’s an emotional component. And the easiest way to release stuck, negative emotion and limiting beliefs and habits is through hypnotherapy.

Beverly Taylor
Beverly Taylor uses hypnotherapy to help chronic clutterers.

What is hypnotherapy, exactly, and how does it help?

Hypnotherapy basically is being in a relaxed state and working with a professional who knows how to help a person change.

There are a lot of myths about hypnotherapy, and they’re wrong. We don’t control people at all; there’s no such thing as that. Hypnotherapy is just a relaxed state where the person is awake and aware.

What happens during a hypnotherapy session?

The first part is the talking part where we [hypnotherapists] ask questions. We have to understand the situation the person is in, and we have to understand them—more the emotional situation than the physical clutter. I have clutterers coming in and saying, “Let me tell you about my home,” and I say, “Well, actually, I don’t really need to know.” The only thing I need to know is how high are your piles—are they 1 foot high or 10 feet high? That gives me a good indication [of the problem]. So, I’m asking questions to find out what are their feelings and thoughts, and what is their history. That’s important.

How might someone’s history affect his or her clutter today?

I will ask, “Were either of your parents cluttered? Were you cluttered as a child?” The person might say, “I wasn’t cluttered as a child. I wasn’t allowed to be. Every Saturday at 8 a.m., my father would yell out, ‘Everybody clean your room!’” If you’re a little child, do you want to clean your house with somebody yelling at you?

So, the kid is freaked out. One thing that commonly happens is they vow, “When I get older, I’m never going to do this [clean].” A very high percentage of people in my clutter study [a study Taylor did of 50 clients who came to her for help with clutter issues] became cluttered as young adults when they moved out of their parents’ house. It was in rebellion, and it was deep in their subconscious.

kid with toy clutter
Chronic cluttering can be traced to childhood.

How do subconscious beliefs contribute to clutter?

Your conscious mind is only 10 percent or less of your brainpower. Your subconscious mind holds every memory of your life—every time your parents yelled at you and every time, you said as a child, “I’m never going to do this when I get older.”

That is actually pushing that person to not clean up, and to clutter.

So, how does the second part of a hypnosis session—the actual hypnosis—work?

The whole goal is to relax into the alpha state. The alpha state is like daydreaming. I do interactive hypnosis, which means the person talks. So they are in a light state of hypnosis. It’s the same brain wave state as daydreaming, meditation or prayer.

The client has to do the work. I’m there to guide them. So, let’s take a limiting belief like, “When I grow up, I’m never going to do that again.” That limits your life from being a wonderful life. So I say, “Do you believe there is a part of you that has that belief?” Then I help them get rid of the belief or change it.

What might the belief change to?

What it changes to is what’s true in that’s person’s life purpose. It’s making that person whole, making that person not have a hang-up. I ask them in hypnosis, “Now that that belief is gone from your life, how can your life be different?” And they tell me.

What would you say to someone struggling with chronic clutter?

You can do this. You just need to get help, and the right kind of help. A professional organizer can be good, but ask them about their experience in helping people with chronic clutter, and make sure they know how to help and are not judgmental.

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Allie Johnson