I’m not a clutter person. At least, I didn’t think so.
The people I live with know if they sit a glass down on the counter for more than 10 seconds, I’m likely to relocate it to the dishwasher. As for the various papers and clutter my kids bring home from school by the truckload? My motto is “Put it away or I throw it away.”
Clutter doesn’t stand a chance in my house. So I thought. Until a few years ago when I noticed a thread of connection between my near-obsessive approach to house-tidying and my untamed anxiety and insecurity. It wasn’t hard to see the truth: the more out-of-control I felt on the inside, the more I tried to control my outside.
My friend, Kathi Lipp, said it this way:
“When we can’t order our internal world, we can work really hard to order our external world.”
Yes, that’s it exactly. Which is precisely what she and I talked about last week when I sat in her San Jose studio and recorded this episode of her Clutter Free Podcast (LISTEN HERE).
Kathi is known for her humor and how-to approach to helping you eliminate clutter (and, if you haven’t checked out her Clutter Free Academy, you need to). She invited me to her studio to talk about the invisible clutter that’s interfering with our day-to-day life: Cluttered Emotions.
To begin, I define “cluttered emotions” as anything that interferes with:
- Your confidence in who you are
- Your ability to live out your calling
You may not have many of these, or you may be quite the collector. To help you decide, these cluttered emotions can be called by different names: Insecurity, anxiety, fear, shame, regret, unforgiveness, anger. Need I go on?
It’s impossible to dissect these monsters lurking in our closets in a 30 minute podcast. Thus, Kathi and I narrowed the list down to my top two (and the two I hear most often from you): Insecurity and fear. We get down and dirty and practical, and I do my best to offer you solid how-to to clean up your internal clutter. Listen in and let you know what you think. And, in case you miss the how-to while you listen, I listed my process below.
Steps to take to clean up the cluttered emotion of INSECURITY:
- Recognize the pattern
- Identify the negative emotion and/or repeating message (i.e. “I can’t do anything right!”)
- Reframe the experience
- Verbalize a new message
Steps to untangle cluttered emotion of FEAR (a.k.a. worry, anxiety):
- Identify the dominant emotion. (i.e. I may feel angry, but behind that anger is usually fear)
- Get clear on the facts. Fear is a master liar.
- Write down the truth, with no embellishment or what-ifs.
- Root yourself on the truth of scripture and pray through your circumstances and emotions.
- Ask yourself: What could this make possible? How could this actually work for good in the long run?
Do you have any emotional clutter? If so, what helps you untangle it?
I love this. It’s so true that if our inside isn’t fixed, then we will try and control our outside. Thank you for this great reminder. I see it all around me. I hope this post gets to people who need its message. You are a blessing.
Thank you, Sheryl.
LOVE this!! I’m definitely in a season of decluttering my emotions, which is good, because in our current living situation, decluttering my house is nearly impossible. Someday I hope my life is clutter free in all areas!
I have felt that desire to tame my outer world – to exert control where I could! I felt that way for most of my growing-up years. I guess, then, it’s a sign of comfort and progress that my standards have dropped since I had kids. 😉
It is true, though, that I am much messier — and confident — than I was when I was a child and young adult. Part of it is survival (I can’t tame the house when I’m busy taming kids and running a business). Part of it is that I don’t feel the same need to control.
Thanks for the post and the podcast. Looking forward to listening!
Anger has been an intense part of my life for a very long time. Your comment on anger makes me think about this emotion in a different light: but behind the anger is usually fear. This helps me sit down and think “What am I angry about – or used to be angry about?” and looking at it with new eyes. What am I afraid of? Why am I afraid of it? Do I (still) need to be afraid? Can I do anything about it (and if so, what can I do)? What does God say about it? It gives me something more to work with besides just a feeling. The more things come into the Light, the less power it has over us.