The Real Reason You’re Struggling With Decluttering And How To Overcome It
Let me just start off by saying, decluttering your life is by no means easy. No matter what approach you take, it’s hard work.
The physical actions of removing things from closets, beds, storage, and then taking car-load by car-load to whatever place is kind enough to take your belongings is like training for a marathon. Each session requires more patience, breathing room, and physical strength to go through one more item or make one more trip.
Then add the emotional side, which is by far the Iron Man of decluttering. 2.4 mile swim through the saddest times of your life, a 112-mile ride through all of your dreams you’re leaving behind, and 26.2 mile run in a hot desert of all of your fears. One minute feels like an hour, and even sixty seconds of deep emotional decluttering has you sprawled out on the floor incapable of moving.
And, just like an Iron Man, this marathon is all you. No one to switch places with at the end of each leg. No one to say, “you look tired, let me help you.” Every step forward is all you!
But the JOY, the pure joy of seeing the smallest of difference of what you’ve physically decluttered is addicting. As addicting as seeing someone you love smile, or that hug your mom gives you, or those unbelievable sunsets that remind you how beautiful life is every day.
Here’s why decluttering brings joy.
Under the piles of clothes, in the dusty boxes stored in my closet, behind the mountain of old nick nacks, I found myself.
Most articles online, get you in action. Let’s Mary Poppins the shit out of this place and make everything disappear so we can be happy right now! In a militant way, we get charged up by 10-minute challenges, and power hours because it’s proven to make significant changes!
And don’t get me wrong, I participate in them too, and highly recommend them as a way of starting, but only dealing with the PHYSICAL stuff leaves you feeling empty because it separates our emotions and feelings from our belongings and really our life.
As we are knee deep into our closets, we refuse to let our tears fill our eyes. We allow the idea of one more hour, one more item, overpower every wave of sadness, fear, and loneliness that fills our bodies. And those emotions continue to sit there unless we address them.
And it sits just like the clutter sits under our beds, in boxes crammed on top of the bookshelf, and the old clothes that are stuffed in a drawer. Just like the bodies, we bury in a box, in the ground, unable to touch the sweet earth, decompose, and grow into a field of flowers.
we need to deal with emotion
Emotions make us human. The good and the bad. The happy tears of joy and the gut-wrenching pain, it’s all apart of life, and we must feel them to heal, to grow, to know ourselves better. To become who we are meant to be.
This was the problem with the robotic purging I was doing. I wasn’t allowing any emotion come through, not even happiness. Instead, I continued to stuff the drain with heartache, perfectionism, stress, anger, more and more crap, until I was completely clogged. Leaving me in a sea of murky water, unable to move and I was left paralyzed.
Stuck in-between the life I wanted and the imperfect past. And I knew I couldn’t stay in this limbo because this wasn’t living!! This wasn’t filling my soul.
A different approach to decluttering-it’s all emotional!
The next time I felt my tear ducts filling, my throat clenching, and that sudden urge to run into my bed, cover myself with blankets and turn on Netflix, I decided to go head-to-head with my emotions.
Every item that set off a fear, or sadness, or reminded me of someone or of an experience I loved, I let the waves rush through me.
I asked myself questions about why these things were so special. I let myself remember experiences that I didn’t want to remember, you know those deep secrets that you don’t even want to admit to yourself? Yeah, those, I remembered and felt them until there was no more pain to feel.
negative body image
I looked at clothes and cried for the person that used to fit into size 24 jeans, and for the woman I am, who is comfortable and currently fitting into size 29 jeans. And I accepted that I couldn’t judge and compare myself anymore.
I let all the images go, of the beautiful women I’ve seen on tv, social media, and of my friends, I would secretly envy.
I paid attention to all the times I felt shame about my body, the experiences the moments, and realized most of them stemmed from the cruelty we experience in our everyday lives. The pressure to look thin, to “be healthy,” to be happy, put together, to look like a woman, and the judgment from our family not wanting a chubby _______.
And I allowed myself to look in the mirror and appreciate every scar, every crooked tooth, the nappy hairs, the big breasts, the skinny legs.
I stood a little taller.
Going through all of the gifts and cards I was given, I cried for all the friends that are no longer my friend. For the gifts, I was holding onto because my family said: “don’t throw this away because I spent a lot of money on it.” For hiding the things I truly loved because I was scared I would be judged for who I really am.
I let go of the guilt that was keeping me small and chained to belief systems that never belonged to me. I allowed myself to embrace all of my quirks, and all that I am, so I could create something new that was based on a life that I wanted to create.
I breathed a little easier.
fear of failure
I looked at all of my finished projects, all of the makings of future endeavors, my journals, and my vision boards and let them go. Not because I didn’t dream of those things anymore, but because I needed to make space for new dreams and possibilities.
I felt a little lighter.
I looked at all the pictures on my phone that were not good enough to post. All the endless takes- “can’t post this, my left-eye looks way bigger than the other”, or “my teeth looked more crooked than they are. Delete",” and all the pictures where my fat was bulging - particularly the fat that sits between my left armpit and chest.
I remembered all the times I received poor reviews at work or had messed up and was too ashamed and embarrassed to admit it. Like when I cried like I’d been stabbed when I was told I wasn’t going to get the promotion and I felt my heart turn into liquid and my throat on fire unable to speak through the smoke.
And I shared these moments and pictures with someone I loved who was able to love me so much that the sharp pains that have never left my stomach began to fade. I deleted the pictures and forgave myself for feeling shame. I thought about that 24 year old who worked so hard for the promotion and reminded her that rejection is perfection - there was something better.
I held my head up a little higher.
And most importantly, I said goodbye to everything I wasn’t. Everything I thought I should be, that I thought I should have, and let myself be.
Let myself be okay with mistakes.
Let myself be a happy size 29.
Let myself feel pretty with crooked teeth.
Let myself be okay with failure.
Let myself be imperfect.
Let myself be okay with not meeting people’s expectations.
I accepted myself and felt a warmth inside me so strong that I knew I would be okay.
Processing Emotional Clutter
The process will be different for everyone, but here are four ways that have helped truly feel into the emotion.
Name the emotion.
I find that I was so scared of feeling “unhappy emotions” that I lost touch on what they felt like or what to call them. When those feelings of anger, sadness, frustration (you name it) set in, I first named the emotion and said it outloud.
“I’m Frustrated because I feel like no one is listening to me…”
“I’m so angry because I’ve worked so hard on this and it’s not coming out the way I want it to. I feel like a failure.”
You see, what we don’t own, owns us! And those are the feeling that make us feel regret, guilt, and shame. (Basically anything Brene brown wants us to feel!)
Feel the emotion
I had to allow my body to feel them- and not be afraid of being judged. My emotions are not who I am, they are here to teach me. In which case, I let it all out!
I screamed, I punched, I cried, and cried so hard I couldn’t speak - Truly did whatever I could to let them out.
It was absolutely refreshing because instead of feeling like a shaken soda bottle, I felt relief.
Journal/Talk about other times I’ve felt/experienced this feeling
This is vital for healing! Self expression and saying whatever comes to mind helps your mind link truth from fears. If we do not let our thoughts out, our fears become reality and thus we sit in pain and anguish and never feel like we’ll be able to get our heads above water.
writing or speaking the most obscure thoughts truly sets a path of what is real for us.
As I learned from my human design type, I realized as a Manifesting Generator it’s important for me to use my voice and speak. So, when i go out for walks alone, I pop my earbuds in and begin talking like I was on the phone with my best friend.
When I say things out loud like “they will stop loving me if I donate that book,” my brain is like well that’s not true! And those fears disappear unable to hold me down anymore.
Meditation & reprogramming
We all have traumas. Like really fucked up things that have happened to us, like the time I was held up with a gun to my face. For me, this trauma made me believe that I was unworthy of living and having people care about me and help me. In which case, I thought a “yolo” mentality was the best way to live and spend my money because “i was going to die anyway.”
along with therapy, I began meditation and reprogramming. Going back to moments where I felt that type of low self worth and recreate the memory into something that made me feel strong and courageous.
I wasn’t erasing the memory, I was allowing myself to see different versions/reality so I can heal from the pain of the memory. THIS WORKS!
I was able to make changes to my spending habits, regular habits and begin loving myself for the perfect person I am.
Emotional decluttering takes hard work, but I found the energy and motivation to get rid of stuff that I no longer needed or never really wanted. In the end, I realized all the things that I saved were the same things that were keeping me small and making me feel unworthy of the life I wanted. And giving myself permission to explore the things that we’re so often told that makes us too emotional, and allowed myself to feel strong and empowered.
The next time you’re feeling stuck, tired, or unmotivated, maybe it’s time to let yourself be precisely who you are and feel the waves of anger, pain, sadness, joy, excitement, beauty, grief, pride, passion - whatever is inside you, and accept them as moments in your life.
Allow yourself to unclog the drain, and fill your life with beauty and clarity.
It’s here where you’ll find the space you desperately needed to create your simple gold life.
When’s the last time you allowed yourself to feel emotions?? Tell me below.
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