What Your Mess Means

What Your Mess Means
Gema Sánchez Cuevas

Written and verified by the psychologist Gema Sánchez Cuevas.

Last update: 28 July, 2022

They say that many of the world’s great geniuses were very messy. The desks of Albert Einstein and Mark Twain, for example, were known to be pigsties. Things were thrown everywhere, papers left in messy piles, garbage piled up…In short, a complete mess.

However, being messy doesn’t make you a genius. Just like being excessively neat also doesn’t make you a better person either.

“Mess has lunch with abundance, dinner with poverty, and goes to bed with death.”
– Benjamin Franklin-

In our current world, time is scarce. It’s no longer possible to polish the floors until they shine like a mirror, nor can we keep the very last corners of our homes immaculate. Hiring a domestic cleaning service is a luxury not many can afford and finding time to take care of a home is not an easy task nowadays.

However, this doesn’t mean that everything should be left fall into filth. You can maintain a basically organized space, without having to spend too much time on it. It’s all about organizing your time and adopting certain habits. But, why can’t some people manage this? What’s behind their compulsive disorderliness?

The meaning of mess

city in tree

In general, mess in the spaces we live is a sign of mess within our inner world. Being saturated by objects means that you’re saturated by ideas and unresolved projects. Messiness sends a message of inner confusion, lack of structure and lack of definition.

But furthermore, Feng Shui studies and similar practices claim that a mess has different meanings, depending on the place where it accumulates. This is what they stated about it:

  • Clutter and piled up objects in the ares near the entrance of the house means a profound fear of interacting with other people.
  • Clutter or piled up objects in the kitchen or the areas where food is prepared means emotional fragility and resentment.
  • Clutter and piled up objects in the closets means difficult analyzing and controlling feelings and emotions.
  • Clutter and piled up objects under the furniture indicates that the person is very dependent on the opinions of other people and gives great importance to appearances.
  • Clutter and piled up objects behind doors is an expression of fear of being rejected by others and a conviction of feeling watched.
  • Clutter and piled up objects on the desk or the place of work means fear, frustration and need for control over situations.
  • Clutter and piled up objects in the garage implies fear towards new things and lack of ability to become updated.
  • Clutter or piled up objects in the hallways means fear of expressing yourself or directly saying what you want.
  • Clutter or piled up objects in the living room expresses a fear of being rejected by society.
  • Clutter or piled up objects in the dining room has to do with feeling controlled by the family and feeling insecure about yourself.
  • Clutter and piled up objects throughout the whole house means that you have repressed anger and that you feel apathetic and disinterested towards life.

The advantages of overcoming your mess

indian woman and hawk

It’s not necessary for us to keep our spaces bright and shiny. In fact, worrying too much about clutter takes away from our energy for more important things and makes us demanding and neurotic.

What is important is being able to live within spaces that we deem pleasant and easy to manage. It’s not reasonable to be looking around for things all the time, because they get lost in all of the mess. We shouldn’t get depressed simply by looking at the state of our home or place of work.

The elements on your desk should each have their place, just like your medication, papers, books, notebooks, umbrellas, etc. You might have to assign two or three places to keep the same category of objects, if you have many of one single type.

The next step is to work in your mind to prepare to make room for new things. Whether you keep objects that you no longer need, or keep things simply for the sake of keeping them, it’ll be impossible for you to move forward. You need to get rid of everything that’s not strictly necessary. Anything you haven’t used in the past year should go in the trash or storage.

Convince yourself that cleaning your space is a way of cleaning your mind, purifying your environment, and healing your life.
old time womans face

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Agnihotri, A. R., Ono, S., & Madden, P. H. (2005, April). Recursive bisection placement: feng shui 5.0 implementation details. In Proceedings of the 2005 international symposium on Physical design (pp. 230-232). ACM.
  • Mak, M. Y., & Ng, S. T. (2005). The art and science of Feng Shui—a study on architects’ perception. Building and Environment40(3), 427-434.
  • Wong, E. (1996). Feng-shui: the ancient wisdom of harmonious living for modern times. Boston, MA: Shambhala.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.