If you’ve ever watched that television show about hoarding or any of the other “clean up” shows, you know that people often hang on to a lot of “stuff.” Often it is a lot of useless things that just clutter up their lives. Getting rid of physical clutter is important and there are sometimes emotional reasons that people hang on to things.
When I talk about “emotional clutter,” people sometimes think I’m talking about the emotional reasons people hang on to physical stuff. While there certainly can be emotional issues that keep people hanging on to things that aren’t useful, I find that even more people hang on to “useless emotional stuff” and that is what I mean by “emotional clutter.”
You see, we all come with baggage. It is an unavoidable part of our human experience. Each of us has been affected by the negative experiences that have happened in our lives. These experiences have helped shape us; they help determine our character. How we handle them often becomes the challenge we face in our lives.
Sometimes those experiences are unexpected things like a death or illness. Sometimes they are mistakes we’ve made. They are experiences, often negative, that have had an impact on us. That in itself isn’t a bad thing.
But too often, those experiences become “emotional clutter.” Instead of learning the lesson from those life experiences and moving on, we hang on to the baggage. We stockpile the negative emotions associated with those experiences: anger, sadness, hurt, fear, disappointment, or guilt. We hang on to those emotions and cling to the memory of how that experience affected us negatively. It is almost as if we don’t want to let go of the negative emotion for fear we’ll forget the lesson from the experience.
For example, if you’ve had a friend who hurt you, you might hang onto that hurt as a way of reminding yourself not to trust them again. But sometimes, that hurt sticks around and generalizes to other situations, and pretty soon you’ve decided you can’t trust others. Maybe you’ve even formed a belief that “people can’t be trusted” or that “getting close will get you hurt.”
To my mind, that’s pretty significant “emotional clutter.” Those stockpiled negative emotions and limiting beliefs stop you from having the sort of life you want. It interferes with your happiness, your relationships, your success—your life.
When I talk about “emotional clutter,” I’m talking about those negative emotions that you’ve stockpiled from past experiences. You see, you don’t really need them to remind you of anything; the learning from those experiences isn’t really stored in the emotions. You probably already have the important learning stored unconsciously in your memory of the experience. If not, it is easy enough to get it. (I can show you how to do it). Emotional clutter is also composed of those limiting beliefs—the beliefs that may have been true once, but they’ve long outlived their usefulness.
So, think about your own baggage. Has it turned into emotional clutter? What negative emotions or limiting beliefs are YOU hanging on to?
The first step is to recognize you’ve got emotional clutter. Next we’ll figure out what to do about it.
© 2012 Linda S. Pucci, Ph.D. All rights reserved.