The Toll of Emotional Clutter


The toll of emotional clutter

Do you ever feel like stuck in your comfort zone, not being able to get out no matter how hard you try?

Well, that's how I've been feeling for some time in a few aspects of my life. A few months ago, I've finally discovered why.  I have tons of emotional clutter (some I didn't even know existed) and haven't de-cluttered, so to speak.

Emotional clutter are the negative emotions we keep in our hearts - guilt, fears, regrets, worthlessness, insecurities, childhood trauma, toxic relationships, etc. Sometimes, they are too painful that we prefer to bury them deep in our hearts that it's hard to even recognize their presence in our everyday lives. At times, we like to have these clutter around in our lives because it gives us an excuse to avoid taking risks, a reason to blame other people for what we have become, and to pretend that we are victims of our past and circumstances.

Don't get me wrong. Feeling hurt and going through painful experiences are part of life. However, when we let these emotions outstay their purpose in our lives,  they become clutter that slowly drag us back and get in the way of us moving forward.

Last January, my husband and I took a series of self-discovery and personal breakthrough workshop in Singapore. I honestly don't have any idea on the training's format, but I trusted our sister-in-law when she recommended this to us after taking it herself.

Through the workshop, I was given the opportunity to pause from the routine of everyday life and dig deep at my inner self.  It allowed me to go through old memories,  uncover negative feelings I've been carrying around, identify the fixed beliefs I've had, forgive those who hurt me and most importantly myself. When I made a choice to let go of all my emotional baggage away, it was so much easier to be my authentic self, pursue my goals and love others genuinely.

My emotional de-cluttering experience made me realize that emotional clutter is as distracting, perhaps even more so, than physical clutter. As physical clutter can turn our attention away and distract us, so too can emotional clutter divert our energy.

I learned that emotions are powerful and that it drives our actions. But these emotions do not come from thin air. They are anchored to beliefs. And beliefs are created when we constantly choose to react a certain way to things. Once a belief is formed, it becomes automatic. Emotions are generated and it tries to sneak past our power of choice.

Most of us have this idea of working at 100% to achieve the maximum results we want. We try so hard focusing on working harder, finding ways to be more knowledgeable, productive, efficient, etc. It is like a horse pulling a cart loaded with tons of bricks. Sure, we can go faster if the horse works harder. But wouldn’t it be easier if we just throw away those bricks instead? 

The truth is, like any clutter, we need to let go of the things that no longer give us joy, crowd our space and drains our energy to give way for the things that can flourish us.

What emotional clutter are you holding on to without even realizing it? Be brave to dig deep. and let go. Below are some steps which helped me in going through the process of emotional de-cluttering.

1. Pause from your daily grind

Attend a retreat, a personal awareness workshop (I did mine through AsiaWorks), do meditations, or simply go somewhere quiet. Intentionally spend some personal time to connect with your emotions. Go through childhood memories, identify automatic responses and behaviours that you have about yourself, other people and even the world. Search every aspect of your life. Be honest and and dig deep.

2. Write them down

Write down all your painful experiences, big and small. Make a list of all the people you care who have caused you pain in one way or another. And make a list of all the people whom you've hurt too. Purge these out of your hearts.

3. Let go

When we forget about our past hurts, we are decieved in to thinking that they are no longer present in our lives. But it is when we forgive that we truly let go of our emotional clutter.  Remember that all of us are humans, capable of commiting mistakes. Believe that most of the people who have hurt us, including ourselves only did the best we know how at that time. Go through your list above, and forgive each and every one of them. Forgiveness is not for others to experience, but ours.

4. Make a new choice

Now that you've let go of your emotional clutter, recognize that you have gained your power back to make your own choice. Choose to live the life that you want, free from all the lies, fears, guilts, and excuses. Make new memories and give way to the beauty of a new life.

De-cluttering our emotions is so much harder than our physical belongings. It takes courage and conscious effort. There will be fears and tears. But it is doable and the outcome is more than worth it.  Being able able to gain back control of our lives and re-discover our authentic self underneath all the junk and clutter is more than worth it, right?