Emotional Clutter

Last night, Travis and I were talking about all the things we could simplify; it seems like I’ve written about most of them already: stuff, schedules, food. But then he mentioned a different kind of clutter that I never considered before: emotional clutter.

Travis works for the LDS Church, and every once in a while they have meetings that function more like devotionals. He told me that one of the speakers spoke about forgiveness, and how it had taken him years to understand that forgiveness was a way for us to get rid of emotional clutter—that each grudge we hold does nothing more than to weigh down our own minds and keep us tied to the person or event that we cannot forgive.

Being as interested in decluttering as I am, this thought intrigued me. I was reminded of a post I did about the weight of Stuff, and how our things can weigh us down, and we can feel when we have too much, the way we feel extra pounds.

The thing I neglected to mention is how easy it is to let those extra pounds add up, unnoticed. Until one day, we step on the scale or look around our living room, and realize how far we let it go. At that point, we can do one of two things: give up and continue to pile it on or make a plan and start getting rid of it.

The same is true of emotional clutter, worsened by the fact that it is intangible the way that the scale or physical clutter isn’t. It may be months, or even years, before we notice how much it has weighed us down. And by then, because of its emotional nature, we may have become so attached to it, comforted by it even, that the idea of letting it go doesn’t seem worth the effort, or worse, it seems impossible.

But, how freeing when you finally do let go! For some, it may be an instant weight loss; as soon as you realize it’s there, you decide to get rid of it, and it’s suddenly gone. For others, it can be as slow and painful a process as actual weight loss; months of work and determination and encouragement, and it may come so slowly that you hardly realize it is happening at all, until one day you realize it’s already gone and you are free of it.

And, like any type of clutter, once it’s gone, we have to be vigilant so it doesn’t creep its way back in.

If there are things you are holding on to—grudges, bitter retorts, unkind thoughts—remember that they only affect you, not the person who hurt you or made you angry. I would encourage you to work through your emotional clutter and finally free yourself from its invisible, but heavy, weight.

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4 thoughts on “Emotional Clutter

  1. This post really got me thinking. I suppose it’s a blessing that I don’t immediately think of one person or situation from which I bear clutter that weighs me down, but I’m sure there are small things—associations—that I could benefit from letting go of. Even after just typing those first sentences, I have a couple small ones in mind. I’m going to give this more thought, because I agree wholeheartedly about how great it feels to be light on that kind of baggage. Thanks for an inspiring and thought-provoking post!

    • I’m glad I could help. I know many people likely don’t have huge wrongs to forgive, but the small things, the little negative thoughts and unsaid comments, really add up.

  2. You make such good points here, which is why it is so helpful to set time away to be alone on a regular basis and deal with our emotions. Some people meditate. some people journal…. it all helps us understand what we are feeling and then allow ourselves to process and let it go.

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