Feeling Overwhelmed - When Life Feels Cluttered
"Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." Albert Einstein
Why declutter emotionally? Emotional decluttering will allow you to think more clearly and be more productive. You will feel, both physically and mentally, that a burden has been removed. By emotionally decluttering you move toward the person you were truly meant to be. Some say that our natural state is to be content and at peace and that often, it is all the clutter we accumulate that prevents our natural state from expression. So, by removing the sources of clutter, we will potentially unveil the contentment and happiness that is ours already.
How to get started: I recommend starting out small. Do not create any more emotional baggage by taking on too much or demanding perfection from yourself. It does not need to be another mountain to climb! There are believed to be three causes of mental and emotional clutter: Indecision, Avoidance, and Procrastination.
We all suffer from indecision at times. We must be careful because it can become a problem that feeds on itself. Indecisiveness can be related to a self-confidence issue. Henry Ford wrote: “Indecision is often worse than wrong action.” Don’t let yourself go there.
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To generate self-confidence we need to stop worrying about others’ expectations of us and stop worrying about the things that could go wrong. Write down any unfinished parts of your life that seem in limbo. For instance, have you been considering moving to a new house or finishing your basement or starting an exercise routine? Are there things like this that you think about a lot – but never take any action on? Focus on the benefit of making the decision or finishing the project. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
If you think it is not the right time to finish the basement for example, maybe you could put a date on it for when you will revisit the issue. But, in the meantime, it is off of your mind and no longer taking up your energy.
Set a goal; again start small. To begin, set some small goals just for the week – such as you are going to make a list of unfinished business and phone calls to make and you will make ½ of the calls this week.
Set yourself larger goals to reach by year-end and then reset that goal at the beginning of the year to enhance the progress you have already made. Review these goals often to keep you on track.
Clear you mind of negative thoughts that could thwart your progress. Self talk works well. Remember the children’s book, The Little Engine that Could? “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can”, and then I did it. When we think positive, positive things happened. Slam the door shut on negative thought and then open a window to the refreshing breeze. Set priorities by creating a list, put it in order of priority and review the list daily. Experience the great feeling of being able to cross things off that list.
Sometimes, we have big issues or just uncomfortable issues to address. It can be physical - like a scary lump you have been afraid of getting checked out by the doctor - or it can be a tough discussion you know you need to have with someone close to you. These are the things that often weigh the most on us and yet, the things we really do not want to face.
It can help to write out our fears and anxiety about the issue. What are you afraid of if you were to address the issue head on? What will happen (worst case) if you continue to avoid it? Often, avoiding it is just as likely or more likely to cause significant harm to you as confronting the problem. In some cases, like a tumor or lump, avoiding it can mean the difference between health and serious illness. Sometimes, the short-term problems with confronting something seem too hard, so we avoid it somehow magically thinking that the issue will work itself out someday. If it is weighing on your mind and you find yourself avoiding something you know you should address, there is no time like the present to get it out of the way.
You may need help and encouragement to face particularly challenging situations. Talk through it with friends, write out plans, ideas, a timeline, and fears to sort things out, or contact a therapist to help. You may find that some situations require no action at all – but rather, acceptance. For instance, you may be constantly worrying about a relative’s drinking. But, some things we have little control over. You may be able to make some decisions like not being around an abusive person, but you will not be able to change the person’s problems or behavior. Accepting things that we have no control over may be the only action we can take in some circumstances.
Emotional clutter can affect your health. Sometimes just recognizing what it is that clutters your life emotionally can be a great help in decluttering. Needlessly worrying about the things that we have no control of zaps us of our energy as well as our time. Instead focus on things that make you happy. Treat yourself to things you can look forward to. Over the last several years when I need to replace items in my home I choose items that require less maintenance. I have removed all the knickknacks that I no longer have time to dust and replace furniture with less intricate detail to take care of. This is how we must train ourselves to deal with the negativity –the clutter- that creeps into our lives: REPLACE IT!
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