Do You Live with Emotional Clutter?


Do you allow yourself to be cluttered and overwhelmed by your emotional baggage?

We are getting ready to move, and it’s easy for me to feel overwhelmed. We’ve lived in this house for fourteen years, and I find it really hard to get rid of things. I have way too much stuff—some of it stuff I’m sentimentally attached to and other things that I hang onto “just in case.”

Although I’ve gone through bits and pieces of piles and boxes, I haven’t done been consistent about it (despite the good intentions I had when I wrote this post). I’m not a hoarder—but I can definitely understand how the hoarding habit develops. I do try to keep things contained, but when you have too much stuff, it seems to ooze out.

So here I am, facing years of bad habits, indecision, and accumulation. Sigh . . .

Going Through Stuff

Everything I touch requires a decision. Do I keep it? Do I need it? Does it matter to my heart? If I get rid of it now, will I be lying on my deathbed sad that I don’t have it to pass along to someone? Is it usable enough to be worth the donation? Is it junky enough to just throw away?

Even worse than the stuff is the paperwork. I need to examine everything. If it is important, I need to file it. If it isn’t important, then I have to sort it into recycling or shredding. I didn’t make these decisions for over a decade with so many things, yet now I have all those years’ worth of decision-making crammed into about six weeks. Sigh . . .

This process is a journey of emotions. I am frustrated with myself for having put this all off for so long. I grieve as I go through things that are a piece of my life as a wife and mother. I regret all the things I’d intended to do but never got around to. I’m angry at myself for letting things get to the point where it is all so overwhelming.

It seems that every time I have something cleared out, a whole other set of stuff emerges. As I went through a box of family photos, I realized that I needed to get the photo albums to pack those things all together—and behind the photo albums on the shelf was a set of books I needed to make a decision about.

It is hard for me to throw these things away. Even when I see something that clearly has no use or sentimental value, I want to hang on to it. Throwing it out is an admission that I’ve been holding on to junk that has served no purpose. Now that I’ve held onto it this long, I’m invested in it. I haven’t looked at my notes from college or grad school in years—yet I still have them. I know I will throw them out, but I don’t feel quite ready to say goodbye to remnants of that time in my life. If I throw it away now, it will be an admission that I’m the kind of person who holds on to junk—so keeping it is sort of a retroactive justification for having kept it in the first place.

The process of purging and packing forced me to look at an unpleasant part of myself. I frequently find myself in tears while going through things. There are times when I feel emotionally worn out.

As difficult as it is, though, I also know that as I get through each pile of box or drawer, I feel a sense of relief. Every decision—as hard as it is—engages me in thinking about what serves me well and what is garbage that gets in the way. The things I keep get neatly packed and labeled. When I need them again, I will know where to find them. What I keep will have a place and purpose.

When I am finished with this process, I will feel good. I’ll be glad it’s gone. It will be easier for me to develop new habits that serve me better.

The experience of getting rid of my stuff is hard—but the feeling of having gotten rid of it will be so freeing.

Emotional Baggage

Many women are really good at keeping their homes clean and clutter-free—all the while hoarding their emotional stuff.

It can be overwhelming to tackle our baggage. We would rather stuff our real feelings and memories in the back of a drawer because we don’t want to go through the experience of dealing with it. No matter how well you try to keep things contained, that baggage is bound to ooze out anyway.

When we finally face years’ worth of accumulated emotional clutter, we need to make decisions. Does this feeling serve a good purpose in my life? If yes, then how to do I want to repackage and reframe it so it can serve its purpose? If it needs to go, then is it something that needs to be ripped to shreds?

We may experience grief, anger, and regret as we realize how much time we’ve invested into hanging onto some of our stuff. We deal with one thing—only to find that it unveils a whole new layer that we need to go through. We go through old scripts in our head, reluctant to get rid of these things that have been part of us for so long. Getting rid of our emotional baggage requires us to admit that we’ve been dragging it around in the first place.

So many of us hang on to a lifetime of accumulated memories, emotions, and beliefs rather than face the task of purging and packing.

I have been in the process of emotional purging and packing for several years now. It has forced me to look at unpleasant parts of myself. I frequently find myself in tears while going through things. There are times when I feel emotionally worn out.

Just like dealing with actual stuff, the experience of getting rid of it is hard—but the feeling of having gotten rid of it is freeing. And I am learning to live in freedom from all the emotional junk of the past.

At Peace

I don’t like being a woman who would just as soon not have anyone come to her house because it’s a mess. I want to be a woman whose home is a welcoming oasis for family and friends. I want to invite people in. I want my home to be a sanctuary. I want to feel at peace in my home—so now I am doing what I should have done so long ago.

Do you allow yourself to be cluttered and overwhelmed by your emotional baggage? Are you a woman who would just as soon not let anyone in (even your husband)? Do you have years’ worth of emotional baggage to start to clear out? Should you purge and pack? Is it time to do what you should have done years ago?

Are you ready to live in freedom? Are you ready to feel at peace?

Do you allow yourself to be cluttered and overwhelmed by your emotional baggage?

Image credit | skeeze at

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4 Comments on “Do You Live with Emotional Clutter?”

  1. I recently have been hit with new emotions. I haven’t even really thought a lot about them so I haven’t even begun to formulate them into thoughts. But I have recently realized to a deeper and fuller extent how my actions (lack of respect and the way I treated my husband) had a negative impact on his feelings towards me, which lead to him distancing himself, which lead to feelings of him not being attracted to me, which lead to self-image issues, which lead to higher walls built, and the cycle restarts and kept spiraling downwards.

    Things I always desired, I pushed away because of my coldness. It can be devastating to think about, so I have to do it in very small doses. I also know that I can let the past take a hold of me. I need to live in God’s grace and keep looking forward.

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