Emotional Clutter

Emotional clutter? If you’re thinking that’s just something I made up, then you’d be right.

Clutter is easy enough to define. Physical clutter is anything that takes up unnecessary space in your home. It can be too many toys for the kids or too many shirts in your closet or too many books or DVDs or plastic fast-food-restaurant cups.

But what is emotional clutter? Let me give you three examples…

1. Expensive Purchases. It’s December 29 and you decide that your #1 New Year’s Resolution is to lose weight. You take advantage of the New Year’s sales and purchase a top of the line treadmill for the low, low price of $1000. You bring it home, set it up and use it diligently…for about 3 months. Then you get busy. You start tossing clothes over the rails. You clean it off every so often and go for a jog, but not as regularly as you once did. Before you know it, it’s December 29 again and your mostly unused treadmill is still sitting in the corner.

Another six months goes by and now that stupid treadmill just sits there and mocks your lack of commitment. It laughs at you when you walk by. It taunts you for spending so much money on something you barely used. It sends you feelings of guilt and regret whenever you glance in its direction.

That regret and guilt…that’s emotional clutter. At this point you have two options: renew your commitment to exercise, clean off the treadmill and start using it diligently once again. Or, cut your losses and sell it in the next yard sale. Getting rid of the physical clutter will also get rid of the emotional clutter.

2. Gifts. Well-intentioned gifts that you don’t particularly like or use can be hard to view as clutter. You love the person who gave it to you and feel like you should love the gift itself. You put it in a closet vowing to “find a place for it” only to feel that twinge of guilt each time you open the door.

Instead, take a picture of the item – of you using the item if possible – to save as a keepsake. Then either donate or give the gift to someone you know will enjoy it. Removing the item will remove the emotional clutter that goes with it.

3. Accumulations. For example, a stack of unread magazines piled next to the couch. Chances are you won’t really enjoy going through them all. You might feel obligated to read them, but why add one more thing to your to-do list if you won’t enjoy it? Instead give the magazines to a friend that would enjoy them.

Any item in your home that causes you to feel stress or guilt or regret is adding emotional clutter to your life.

And, really, who wants emotional clutter? I have enough emotions to deal with on a daily basis without my “stuff” adding to the jumble.

Rather than allowing your stuff to have an emotional hold in your life, remove the clutter. Donate it. Give it to someone who will enjoy it. Recycle it. Whatever you do, remove it from your space and get rid of the emotional clutter right along with it.

Question: What’s something you’re holding on to that’s causing emotional clutter?

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2 responses to “Emotional Clutter

  1. barnabashouseok August 6, 2012 at 11:41 AM

    great post! i don’t need items to mock me, i have family for that!

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