10 Jun

‘Emotional clutter’ – rubble that hinders an intentional life



Our health is affected by our psycho-social well-being. This is not news. When we become self-aware and mindful, we may be able to recognise how ‘emotional clutter’ could prevent us from having healthy lifestyles of intention and simplicity.

In a world that is hectic, busy and hurried, simplicity is not. (In) a society that is rushing to gain more, satisfaction with less may be regarded as counter-cultural. It is however not always the physical clutter that makes you stumble in your search of such simplicity, but the ‘emotional clutter’ – in other words, the subconscious mind “rubble” standing in the way of our peace of mind.

A Saboteur robbing us of true, intuitive information

Intentions and desires for healthy living, successful careers and constructive relationships may be true for us, but it’s often the unseen, or underlying mental clutter, that sabotage our thinking and action in achieving these. Disruptive feelings distort our intuition and ability to discern the truth and to interpret what is really happening, or what is possible. Such a state of uncertainty makes it difficult for us to act upon new experiences in a healthy way.

Identifying emotional clutter is tricky because not everyone is self-aware. An abundance of worries, invading fears and unresolved issues (to name but a few) could be very real mental stumbling blocks.  The first step to dealing with emotional clutter is the ability to IDENTIFY it when it sneaks into our lives and relationships and then deal with it systematically.

The sneaky way of emotional clutter – a busy digital world & ever-active mind

One of the least expected culprits that keep emotional clutter piling up, is the endless stimulation in a connected world. The inability to ‘slow down’, or shut off and deal with unresolved emotions literally build up as clutter does.  And it’s made worse by uncertainty about the future, past regrets or guilt.

In order to be healthy, we need the ability to be both stimulated and soothed. We need to be able to be productive AND to let rest restore us.  If you wish to identify the mental and emotional stumbling blocks impacting on your wellness, make time in a busy schedule to ‘soothe’ the mind.  Find a focal point, maybe outside and clear your mind. Enjoy this time, being mindful to keep thoughts at bay, knowing you could return later to these – maybe making small side notes of worries and fears and other feelings- but ‘parking’ these to deal with constructively later. Being aware is always the first step towards being more healthy.

Small steps forward to a better mindspace

Emotional decluttering does not need to be overwhelming. Here are some practical tips:

  1. Reorganise your highest priorities and re-evaluate your commitments.
  2. Allow yourself to let go of the past to make room for new things to enter your life.
  3. Commit to making decisions you’ve been putting off.
  4. Challenge limiting beliefs about yourself and about how things should be.
  5. Reframe your attitude about what happens to you. Think positively even if you’re having a hard time. Pair a negative feeling with a positive one.

Our freedom of choice is limited by emotional clutter – deal with it

Emotional clutter hinders us from having clear thinking.  It clouds our ability to navigate our way forward. Let’s not underestimate the importance of freedom of choice to validate that we are in control of our lives and not victims of external forces. We do better when we have options – from simple decisions like where the next vacation will be to important ones,  like changing jobs, where or when to buy property, which medical aid benefits and plans or hospital plan to sign up to, etc.

Unfortunately, emotional clutter – mainly caused by undealt issues – more often than not causes ambivalence and confusion in dealing with decisions that could affect our overall well-being. Clutter – whether physical or emotional – could so easily distract us and restrict our thoughts. Worse, it makes us narrow- minded and deny us from possibilities that are available.

By Dorette Du Prez (for Genesis Medical Scheme)


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