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Your lifestyle, your quirk
We all have that one closet that is used to store things that are no longer useful but that we can't seem to throw away, right? We keep throwing more and more stuff in that closet until there is no room left. The door won't even close! Then one day, we decide to clear everything out by figuring out what we want to keep and want we want to throw away (or give away).
So we know how to eliminate household clutter, but what should we do about emotional clutter?
Your emotional wellbeing is like a closet. It may be full of feelings that you have outgrown, but never got rid of (like your old clothes). It may be full of things that are no longer useful to you, but you have been hanging onto them just in case you might need them someday (like the pair of shoes that give you blisters every time you wear them). When we have emotional clutter, it not only weighs us down, it also prevents us from making room for new feelings. Most of us don’t realize the significant effects of emotional clutter until we are overwhelmed by it. If you find yourself struggling in a current relationship or in recent relationships, it is likely that unresolved issues and feelings from your past relationships are preventing you from moving forward. There are ways you can eliminate emotional clutter and move on with your life.
Parting with your old emotions won't be easy, so take small steps at first. Go through your belongings and figure out what you've been holding onto because of emotional attachment or sentimental feelings. Begin with your earliest relationships; for some, this might be high school. Be honest, are you ever going to have a reason to wear that prom dress again? Is it hanging in the back of your closet like the memory of your high school sweetheart is lingering in the back of your mind? While you're in your closet (not the metaphorical one), do some searching. Do you still have a sweatshirt that belonged to your ex? Are you hiding a shoebox full of old pictures, cards, and letters? It’s time to clean out your closet (literally and figuratively)! As you work your way up to more recent relationships, it might become more difficult to let go of your possessions and memories. Don’t force yourself; you can leave it for another day when you are ready.
Looking at all of the things you’ve been hiding for years will probably be a very emotional experience. Remove these items from your home as soon as possible. Donate items in decent condition to a nonprofit organization like Goodwill or The Salvation Army. What about all those stuffed animals you have accumulated over the years? Maybe they mark birthdays and anniversaries. Stuffed Animals for Emergencies (SAFE) accepts stuffed animal donations and distributes them to emergency organizations to provide to children involved in accidents and other traumatic events. So instead of taking up space in your closet, these cuddly toys can provide comfort to a suffering child. This is a great way to not only free yourself of unwanted possessions, but to make a positive impact on someone else’s life.
If parting with some of your belongings doesn't quite extinguish your feelings of anger, resentment, longing, or sadness, there is another step you can take. Write a letter to your ex telling them all the things that you never had a chance to say. Tell them how you felt about your relationship, how you felt when it ended, and how you feel now. Writing about your present feelings is especially important. Maybe you have feelings of regret and you want to ask for forgiveness, or maybe you have feelings of anger and resentment. Get all of your feelings out in your letter as if your ex were standing right in front of you – but don't worry, they will never see it. When you are finished writing, you will feel a sense of relief, like a weight has been lifted from you. Now, just like everything else, get rid of the letter. Do not send it! That would open up the old wound instead of healing it.
This process is by no means easy and there is no time limit, so move through it at your own pace. For some, it might be best to gather everything and get rid of it all at once. For others, it might be more beneficial to part with possessions over a period of time. When you're done and you have freed yourself from emotional clutter, you will find that you have so much more room in your heart for love. You will have more love for yourself because you let go of anger and resentment, or you made peace with your mistakes and forgave yourself. You will also have more of a capacity to love others. If you are in a relationship now, you will no doubt see improvement. If you are still looking for someone special, be confident knowing that you will no longer be carrying around all of that baggage, and it won't be a burden on your new relationship. Be proud of releasing yourself from the past. Now you can move forward and focus on your future!