Freeing Yourself from Clutter: Material and Emotional

By: Other | January 6, 2017

Written by Jennifer Wendt, Ph.D.

Happy New Year! The time has come when we turn the calendar and embrace the beginning of a new year. We breathe a deep breath and ponder the year ahead. This time often brings self-reflection, memories of the previous year and thoughts for the new year ahead.

As we look forward, we often feel a sense of energy; energy that is eager to make changes and improvements in our lives. This is the perfect time to take inventory of your life and examine where you feel there is clutter. Ask yourself where in your life do you feel stifled and yearn for more space to breathe? Where in your life would you like something to feel a little bit cleaner or simpler?

What is Clutter?

Clutter can refer to anything in your environment or in your life that is taking up space and energy but is not currently useful, organized or valued. The word clutter is often used with the connotation that something is worthless or unimportant but that is sometimes far from the truth. Clutter often begins as something interesting or important. There are many ways that clutter accumulates in our lives and we begin to adapt our life to live around it.

Clutter is commonly thought of as material items but we accumulate clutter in our emotional and mental states as well. Harboring feelings and emotions or repetitively thinking about the same topic can be examples of emotional clutter. It is important to note that when we process emotions and experiences we will naturally think about them repetitively and experience emotions for long periods of time. The more significant the experience, the longer the process will take (such as loss, trauma, significant changes, etc.). One question you can ask yourself to determine if you are in a normal process or if you are accumulating clutter is whether or not your thoughts or emotions are feeling progressive?

Once you are able to identify clutter that you have collected in your life you can decide if you are ready to minimize it. Evaluate whether it adds value to your life. This is not a chore that is meant to overwhelm you, so start simple: one drawer, one list, one worry at a time. It is a freeing feeling when you minimize clutter in your life.

Where to look for Material Clutter:

1. Home

Look around your home for obvious and hidden places of clutter. Cupboards, countertops and closets are key areas that often accumulate things.

2. Office

Clutter doesn’t just accumulate at home. Work spaces and filing cabinets can easily become crowded with unnecessary documents, papers and items.

3. Vehicle

Whether you have kids in the backseat that create a whole living room with their objects or your glove compartment is stuffed, your vehicle has many areas that can easily accumulate clutter.

Where to look for Emotional Clutter:

1. Excessive Concern or Worry

If you find yourself spending a lot of time worrying about something this may indicate you have emotional clutter to minimize. You may ask yourself if there is anything you can do to take action or are you concerned about something out of your control? Ask yourself if your concern is beneficial and explore ways that you can minimize the time you spend worrying.

2. Swirling To-Do Lists

Do you find yourself revising to-do lists in your mind? This is an everyday activity for many people but for some people this activity consumes their mental energy all day. Minimize this clutter on your mental energy by keeping lists or notes and free your mind to think about other things.

3. Harbored Feelings

Can you identify a nagging feeling you have had for a long time? It may be a fear, a relationship to mend or a career opportunity that has gone unexplored. When you touch upon it, you will often feel a sense of angst or a weight. Evaluate if you are ready to shift this feeling and free yourself from its weight.

There are many places in our life where we collect thoughts, emotions or material items that accumulate as clutter. They may begin as adding value to our life but as our life moves forward we need to decide what is important for us to continue to have on our journey. Freeing yourself from clutter, whether small or large, results in a sense of energy and freedom. Enjoy giving yourself a small gift of freedom!


Image: Matthias Weinberger on flickr and reproduced under Creative Commons 2.0

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