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Let Go of Emotional Clutter and Live Lighter

By · 10/6/2010

Have you ever said something less than kind to a family member or co-worker and felt ”guilty”? – that’s emotional clutter.  Maybe you have been hurt by someone and you have been holding on to “resentment” – emotional clutter.  Maybe a friend just gave you the most hideous gift ever, but you keep it because you don’t want to hurt her feelings and it would be “embarrassing” to tell her the truth – emotional and physical clutter.  You know what I’m talking about.  We all have something.

I’ve had my share of emotional clutter and there have been years at a time that I have let it bog me down and keep me from enjoying my life to the fullest.  I don’t like feeling that way and I am guessing you don’t either.  I have learned a few things on my clutter releasing journey and I hope some of my experiences will inspire you to let go of the things and thoughts that are holding you back in your life.

Lesson #1:  Emotional and physical clutter go hand-in-hand. We hold on to some interesting things.  This summer I went through a big box of high school memorabilia. Of course everything in the box was neatly organized and the box was even labeled, “Daniele’s Memorabilia”, so why not keep it forever?  It wasn’t taking up much space and after all they are my precious memories - right??  Well, a few are and a lot went bye-bye.

Read these statements and tell me if they sound familiar.

It’s been in my family for years!” “I might want to look at it for old times’ sake.”

“I am saving it for my children/grandchildren.”

“It was a gift.”

“It may be worth something some day.”

“But they aren’t making it anymore.”

“My high school boyfriend gave me that.”

Whatever item is in question, if it isn’t being honored or enjoyed, then it is cluttering up your home and your head!  Look around you. Do you love everything you see, or does some of it just stress you out? If someone took it, would you even notice it was gone?

Lesson #2:  Everything is a choice – choose to let go! As I went through my box I kept asking myself, ”Why am I keeping this?” My kids won’t care about this stuff when I am gone, in fact some of it might even be embarrassing.  Now, a few years ago, I wasn’t ready to let go of those things.  I wanted to remember (hold on to) my youth.  But, I finally realized that the person I was then, is not the person I am now, and I am glad.  Don’t get me wrong – I had fun as a teenager and I wasn’t an awful person, but I was a kid, making kid decisions.  A lot of the memories made me smile, but some of them were painful and it was time to let them go.  So, I tossed the dried up roses, some photos (yes photos – you can throw them away), and lots of notes and cards that meant nothing to me anymore.  Bottom line:  If it is taking up space and isn’t enhancing your life, it is CLUTTER – let it go!

Lesson #3:  Make room for the good stuff. Getting rid of any kind of clutter takes work, but emotional clutter takes some serious commitment.  I believe that we let go in layers.  Organizing your life is a ongoing process.  It is not all done at once, and then magically stays that way. You need to learn to sort out the useful from the burdensome, and motivate yourself to maintain the simplicity you are creating.

Practice letting go and get used to that lighter feeling.  Once you feel it, and realize how nice it is to make room in your life for what really matters, you will be hooked.  Memories can be wonderful, but the item you are attached to is not the person or event. I know that sounds obvious, but it doesn’t always feel that way.

Lesson #4:  Be patient with yourself and keep moving forward. My grandma died a few years ago, and I have a few items of hers that I treasure.  I love them because they were hers, but they are also useful in my home.  The year before she died I was going over to her apartment often to help her organize.  During the process I noticed she needed a tool box, so I bought her one and on the top I wrote, “Granny’s Tool Box”.  She really loved the gesture and that made me happy. After she died I brought the box home and I tried to use it on several occasions, but it just didn’t hold my things very well.  It was a little too big for what I needed, and of course it said, “Granny’s Tool Box” which I thought my clients might find a bit odd.

Well, it sat in my garage for a good two years and every time I looked at it I thought, “I really need to give that away”, but for some reason I wouldn’t let myself.  I felt guilty and sad (emotional clutter).  Then one day I had an older client (a grandma) who really needed a tool box, so I gave it to her.  It was that easy.  Someone had a need and it was no longer useful to me…I could finally let go.

Some of you may be thinking…come on it’s just a tool box!  Move on!  I get that, but having to go through it myself helps me understand why my clients have a hard time letting go of the box of drift wood from the beach, their grandma’s old sewing machine, the clothes of a loved one that has passed away……

I challenge you to open that box and see what you can let go of today.  Start small and then move on to the deeper attachments.  Give yourself permission to release your own emotional clutter. It is truly life changing!!

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