Writer, Advisor + Consultant

3 steps to clean up emotional clutter for more happiness

It’s a Sunday afternoon and you decide to clean the house up for the week ahead. So you sweep up your living room and within minutes you find yourself sneezing.

Ever experience that?

It’s because when you sweep up the dirt, dust rises, and as the dust enters your system your body says: “Get outta here.” Because your body’s immune system will always do its best to protect you from getting sick. The inconvenient sneeze is your body helping you – it’s stopping the toxins from entering deeper.

Well this analogy is just like what happens when you stir up emotional clutter.

The things we often ignore, conveniently forget, stuff down, and don’t want to look at. It’s the things we avoid by overworking, over-shopping, overeating, over–anything…but confront the uncomfortable messiness of life.

But there’s powerful lessons from our Sunday Clean Up metaphor–cleaning your emotional house is similar to cleaning your physical house.

First of all if you don’t clean it up – you’re house will be a mess. The dust will accumulate so bad that you’ll be sneezing all the time. That’s right – avoiding the mess doesn’t make it disappear. Instead of a quick sneeze from the inevitable dust that rises during clean up, you’ll end up much sicker by the dust and dirt that accumulates over time. There’s a reason dirty moldy homes are a health-hazard.

Lesson: cleaning up is worth it. It’s just as bad a health hazard when you avoid cleaning your emotional house. Taking the time to sweep up the little messes is worth it.

Secondly, Awareness helps mentally prepare you for what’s coming.

When you sweep up the living room, you know that some dust is going to get stirred up. It’s inevitable. And you know there’s a likelihood that the dust might make you sneeze. Being aware of this helps you know what’s coming and why, so that you’re not surprised or confused when it happens.

Lesson: When you decide to face an uncomfortable situation head on, you know there might be some communication difficulties that are bound to arise. Being aware of this you can do a few things to prepare:

  1. Get clear and grounded in yourself about what it is you really want.
  2. Your awareness helps you actively put in place some protective measures to keep you calm and supported when you face the emotional clutter.

First of all you want to create a clear intention around cleaning up the emotional clutter. Ask yourself: what are you hoping to resolve, and what do you truly need to clean this up? Do you need to release something you’ve been holding back, do you merely need to be heard, or do you need counsel on how to move forward?

When it comes to emotional clutter between yourself and somebody else, the question is: Are you fixated or proving your point which can lead to a bigger mess, or are you looking for a resolution/a true cleanup?

I remember hearing Wayne Dyer say something along the lines of: “You can be right or you can be at peace. Choose peace” Often, emotional clutter leaves us with this ultimatum. The cleanest way is the peaceful way.

Being peaceful doesn’t mean being walked on, or being passive. On the contrary, it involves the challenging task of being vulnerable and communicating openly from the heart.

With awareness you can also buffer yourself. Because let’s be honest – most of us are not as peaceful as the Dalai Lama, and most of us tend to have our knee jerk reactions when we feel threatened, belittled, or treated unfairly.

When the mess gets stirred up, it’s hard to breathe, and this is precisely why taking a time-out to breathe deeply, meditate, and reflect is paramount to cleaning up the emotional clutter.

There is a way to stay grounded, maintain healthy boundaries, and still be kind and open to the other person (even if they are 99% unreasonable).

Because once the dust settles, the cleanest clear action from the place of wholeness becomes clear.

And finally – just like in our Sunday cleanup example: the momentary uncomfortable sneeze is actually a gift. It’s your immune system preventing the dirt from invading you deeper.

Although the emotional hiccup may feel uncomfortable, in the long run it will save you from turning that emotional angst against yourself. After all the root of self-sabotage is inner clutter that hasn’t been faced.

When we avoid the mess – things get messier on the inside and the outcome is unconscious self-defeating behaviors which can be detrimental to our work and life success.

Just like our physical body protects us from dust, dirt and pollution on a daily basis – we have an equally strong emotional immune system that’s just as intelligent as our physical immune system.

You have a natural buffer that will help you deal with the emotional clutter as you start to clean it up. Sometimes that buffer is tears – they are a miraculous tension-tamer.

And anger that rises up from an interaction can be channeled into passionate fire that leads to an incredibly powerful workout, or churning the energy of anger into a new business project (or cleaning your house top to bottom 😉

All emotions can be channeled for good.

The important thing is to allow yourself to feel them completely, to recognize that emotions are always true barometers of what is going on in your inner-house and to pay attention to the message they hold for you.

Your emotional immune system is there to help you make wise decisions on how to move forward. The trick is to feel the emotion, and recognize that not every emotion needs to be acted on. Sometimes emotions are simply to be felt, to ride it out–to wait and see where the emotion takes you. If you listen to the emotion, it will have a message for you and your inner guidance system coupled with your emotional immune system will help you find a clean and clear response to dealing with the emotional clutter that’s rising.

Here’s a mini re-cap to de-cluttering your inner-house–leading to more happiness:

  1. Carve out regular time to clean up your emotional inner-house. This means taking 20 minutes to an hour to sit with yourself in meditation, quiet reflection and journaling to reflect upon anything that’s been bothering you lately, especially anything that you’ve been avoiding
  2. Know that there’s a high likelihood of some discomfort. Make sure you have support around you to deal with it. Whether it’s a breathing technique, a yoga-practice, a friend to talk to or a therapist – make sure that you have a way to deal with the emotional sneezes that will rise when you start to clean up the clutter.
  3. Trust your innate intelligence to help guide you forward to a clean and clear response on how to handle the situation you’re confronting. You are stronger than you think you are. You have an emotional buffer – an emotional immune system to carry you through the rough times. Once again, this is why strengthening your inner immune system via meditation and soul-practices are vital to emotional resiliency. When you connect within–your next step will become clear. Sometimes the answer will be something you can do on your own, and other times outside support will be the exact thing you’ll be called to reach out for.

Just like when we get a cold: sometimes we do need medicine to heal it, and other times our immune system is enough to conquer the cold.

Cleaning up your inner-house on a regular basis may feel uncomfortable in those minute moments, but in the long run it leads to more joy, happiness, and prosperity in your work and life.

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