Anyone who’s moved probably knows how much stuff you find that you didn’t remember you even had. It’s sobering. Each time you promise yourself you’re not going to collect junk anymore…until you do, of course. Sometimes it’s just easier to buy new stuff, rather than take the time to dig through our messes to find what we already have.
After the trauma of 2020, the recent gas line hack, and now the hack of the meat industry, most of us are realizing it’s probably a good idea to stock a few things in case new shortages occur. The key though is to have a system and be organized when you do or it will inevitably become the future clutter you swore you wouldn’t accumulate.
Having sections, labeling and dating items, and organizing them neatly is key to eliminating stress and being sure you have the most important things you may need, like medications, food and essential household items…and equally important, to be able to find them when you need them.
After spending some time organizing my laundry/storage room, creating an inventory spreadsheet, and clearing out some of the empty boxes and clutter, it occurred to me how important that we do the same emotionally—taking stock of our strengths, clearing out the clutter of our ill serving thoughts and beliefs, and those dysfunctional relationship patterns that may be dragging us down. After all, we may have some great natural strengths but if we allow them to get buried under the clutter of dysfunction, they certainly won’t serve us the way God intended when He created us.
Since it’s easier generally to see the negatives—those things we don’t like about our lives or ourselves—start by asking yourself these questions:
- What do I find most consistently frustrating on a daily basis? Is it that you’re constantly stressed trying to find stuff in your house? Are you constantly frustrated with your spouse or a family member? Are you miserable in your current job or business? Are you always tired or fatigued?
- What are the things you find you’re always procrastinating?
- What emotions seem to keep tripping you up? Anger? Hopelessness? Sadness? Anxiety?
- What negative thinking patterns can you identify that are keeping you from moving your life forward or making positive changes?
- What people seem to drag you down, intimidate you or dominate your time or your thoughts with their problems and dysfunction?
- What habits do you wish you can change? Smoking, poor eating habits, drinking?
Ok, now consider that your clutter list. Just like in the physical realm, when we find clutter, we have three choices:
- Get rid of it,
- Give it away,
- Or reorganize, repurpose or refurbish it.
So how does this translate with emotional clutter?
Get rid of it!
Well first, look at some of your bad habits and negative thinking patterns, and resolve to throw them out. But just like with certain heavy items in your home, that may be easier said than done. You may need to get some help moving them out. You may need to enlist the help of a therapist to heal whatever wounds caused those negative thoughts or beliefs to root in. Or, a coach can help you identify and overcome limiting beliefs that keep holding you back and put these beliefs to flight.
There may be certain relationships that you need to let go of completely.
If you struggle with drinking, for example, perhaps severing ties with your drinking buddies is the first step to freedom.
Or maybe it’s gossip that plagues you. Getting away from others who gossip may be necessary to get your own bad tendency under control.
Give it away.
Many times, the stressors we experience with others is due to a lack of proper boundaries. We may take on the problems of others as our own, or they may dump them on us and we feel helpless to solve what only they can ultimately solve.
Figuring out what is proper to your state in life—what your own appropriate obligations and priorities are—is the first step. Learning not to take on the stressors that don’t belong to you and gently turning them back to their rightful owners makes room for you to work on those things that are yours to resolve that may have gotten stuffed in the back of your emotional closet in terms of your own unmet needs.
Reorganize, repurpose and refurbish.
Many of the relationships that cause us stress are family relationships. It could be a spouse, your children, or your parents and throwing them out is the last thing you want to, or should, do. But maybe those relationships need to be reorganized and put in their proper order.
Are you still cutting your kids’ meat when they’re 15? Just kidding, but you get my point. Are there some things you need to let others do for themselves? Are there some relationships that need to be reprioritized? Maybe you find you’re not spending enough time with your spouse because of other family demands or expectations. Maybe some of those relationships need to be repurposed or changed? Perhaps some relationships haven’t gotten enough attention and need some refurbishing. Like a needy puppy nipping at your heels, sometimes picking him up and petting him is all he needs and he’ll give you some peace.
Once you’ve addressed the clutter, take stock of the good things in you and in your life that you want to keep and need to put in proper order.
Make your gratitude list—those blessings in your life that you’re thankful for. Maybe it’s good health, a keen intellect, a great sense of humor, a good spouse, your children and grandchildren etc.
Then take a deeper look at yourself. What are your specific gifts and talents that make you special? If you’re first reaction is that you don’t have any—I would challenge you on that. God created you as a unique individual with specific gifts and strengths and purpose. Finding out what those are needs to be at the top of your priorities list. Check out Living Your Strengths and reach out to Lisa at https://wonderfullymade139.com if you’re ready to begin an exciting journey of self-discovery that can change your life.
The key to healthy emotional organization is to keep the good stuff front and center, to get rid of what’s not useful or working and to reestablish healthy boundaries so you don’t wind up in the same mess again.
And remember, sometimes we need to leave some room on those shelves for extra items that come in—like a new friendship, an exciting opportunity, or life-giving hobby. Stuffing your shelves tight with only those things you have now can hamper you from expanding your horizons in the future.
Have a big vision for your life. Don’t limit what God may be trying to do in you and through you. Once you clear the clutter, you’ll likely be amazed to see what He has in store for you.
- Fearlessly Facing the Winds of Change - November 11, 2021
- Does Mary really matter? - October 13, 2021
- Therapy, Spiritual Direction or Coaching: What do you need? - September 16, 2021
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