Does your head ever get so full that you can’t think straight? Is it getting in the way of your routine? You might chalk it up to, “it’s just one of those days,” but in the eventuality that it bleeds into another day or two, your inner voice begins to nudge. It’s impeding on your productivity. You know when you know. Something’s up.
Ironically, in some cases, this sense of overwhelm has nothing to do with the physical clutter at all. In fact, your home could be very orderly and closets fairly organized and yet, you are still distracted, and somewhat anxious. You feel off. You’re more forgetful and definitely not on your game.
Chances are that if you not addressing your anxieties, they are likely to mushroom into a heavy cloud of emotional clutter in your head. This can be just as paralyzing as physical clutter.
When self-defeating thoughts invade, it not only clutters our brain, it drains our battery. It can stop us dead in our tracks. We can become both unglued and stuck at the same time. In the attempt to ward off this uneasiness, many of us internalize the anxiety and bury it deeper through either avoidance and denial. But if left unresolved, in time it will fester. It will grow and build like tumbleweed.
Clearing emotional clutter is so very difficult and complex. It’s not tangible yet it’s something we hold on to. We feel it deeply. So how can we possibly toss it?
As with the clearing of physical clutter, there are some steps we can follow to begin the shedding process.
Acknowledge that you may be emotionally stuck. Pay attention to the signals. Recognizing and admitting to the struggle is the very first step and will allow the buried emotions to surface.
Sort and organize your feelings, just as if they were things. Too many contrasting thoughts swimming around in your head can compete for your attention. Try to write them down and pinpoint them. Some emotional clutter can be clear and definable while others may be less conscious. You may be overwhelmed with negative self-talk, worry, guilt, shame, doubt, fear, or stress. Classifying your emotions and distinguishing your frustrations with all your life relationships (personal, family, and in the workplace) can be a very cathartic process. This process alone can provide some clarity.
Once you have sorted the emotions, you can evaluate how they are getting in the way of your “stuckness.” Before you can purge the negativity, you must find the pain. Identify the source of the negative thoughts and feelings through honest introspection, or by enlisting help from friends, family, or a professional expert. An objective eye is sometimes more accurate than self-talk.
Give yourself permission to feel the emotions but not to inhibit your daily productivity. Confront your demons. Unburden. Look to resolve the conflicts in your personal relationships. It is unlikely that they will fix themselves. Release and let them go. As with physical clutter, by letting go, we can create more space for positive energy.
Now that you’ve sorted, evaluated, and purged the emotional residue, you’ve cleared the clutter and can move forward with an untroubled focus.
Understand that over time we all accumulate some measure of emotional clutter. The more self-actualized we become, the more skillful we will be in managing it. When it interferes with our life-balance , it’s time to repeat this process.