Lighten up your inner world and set yourself free.
You are certainly familiar with physical clutter: the tangible, concrete stuff you own that you don’t love, use, or need.
You are probably also aware of the ways such clutter can hold you back.
Practically speaking, clutter drains your time and attention and takes up prime real estate in your home. Metaphysically and psychologically, clutter dams up your luck, your joy, and your life’s most harmonious and sparkling flow.
Here’s the thing: non-physical clutter does the same thing. When I say “non-physical clutter,” I’m talking about clutter that takes the form of feelings, thoughts, patterns, habits, and responsibilities.
While clearing physical clutter can help you naturally release non-physical clutter, it can also work the other way around. When you clear non-physical clutter out of your life, you’ll naturally feel like making it so your external environment matches your newly refreshed and expanded internal state.
And even when your space is clean, clear, and organized, it can be helpful to examine, and then consciously let go of, the inner conditions that may be keeping you stuck.
So free yourself up! Simplify and streamline your inner world, and discover new portals of possibility and power.
Here are 4 types of non-physical clutter, along with ideas for how to get started with releasing them.
1. Excess Responsibilities or Responsibilities That Don’t Resonate
Maybe a responsibility used to resonate, and now it doesn’t. Or maybe it never did.
It’s also possible that you’ve just got too much on your plate.
Look at the things you’re committed to: the things other people expect you to show up for, because of a formal or informal, implicit or explicit commitment you have made. Grab a journal or notebook. Make a list.
Do you like doing these things? Is there a value in them for you? Do you have time for them? Even if you put work into them, and even if they’re performed for the benefit of others, they should charge you up and make you feel accomplished, satisfied, and proud.
If a responsibility doesn’t resonate, or if you can’t comfortably fit it into your schedule – just as soon as you can do so ethically – shift it or let go of it altogether.
In some cases, you may need to speak an uncomfortable truth in order to let go of such a responsibility. Do it.
Admittedly, there may be some responsibilities you are not crazy about that you can’t immediately let go of: a job you don’t love, for example, or caring for a convalescing loved one who needs more attention than you can comfortably give. In such cases, make a plan for eventually letting go, or reducing the amount of time and effort you put in.
Staying with the above examples, what would you need in order to change jobs or to hire someone to help you out with caring for your loved one? And how can you take steps toward getting these conditions in place?
Don’t do it alone! Ask for advice from professionals, friends, or loved ones as needed. Light a candle and invoke the support of the Divine. Then make your plan. It might be a longterm plan, but it will provide the structure and hope that will instantly help you to feel less overwhelmed.
2. Relationship Dynamics That Bring You Down
When a relationship is unhealthy or unpleasant, or leaves you feeling drained in any way, don’t just drop the relationship like a smoking gun. Look at the reasons you were holding that gun in the first place. Why did you pick it up? Why did you hold onto it for so long? What did you think it was doing for you, or what did you think you were doing for it? If you don’t explore such questions, you’ll likely pick up the same old relationship dynamic again, in the same form or another one.
Either that, or you’ll weed out relationships in general and be left lonely and alone. For some of us, that can seem like it would be easier: no people = no problems. Done and done. But that’s not how we’re built. We humans are social. We might say we hate people or like dogs or trees better, but we don’t. People love people and need people. That’s just the way it goes.
So make another list. Write down all the people with whom you have significant relationships: family, friends, colleagues, etc. Do these names all make you smile and give you a little boost? If not, what is the dynamic there, and how can you change it to a dynamic that feels better to you?
Maybe you need to set a boundary. Maybe you need someone to go to therapy with you, and maybe they will refuse. That’s their business. Yours is to speak your truth about what you need, and to make it clear that you will not settle for anything else. If your life is a bus, you are the driver, and you get to choose who rides. Sometimes it really is my way or the highway, and sometimes that’s exactly what it needs to be.
Or, maybe you don’t need someone to go to therapy with you. Maybe you can set an inner boundary by changing the way you relate to them all on your own, and seeing what happens. Call them less, or quietly fail to let them rope you into their drama. They might stick around and they might not. As long as you’re honoring your own sense of what feels right to you, you can be like, Great! Stick around or don’t. Whatever works.
And, of course, in some cases you might examine all sides of the dynamic and conclude: I’m out. In which case, get out and don’t look back. Just remember to leave not just the relationship, but also the entire dynamic behind.
(Again, ask for the help you need, from the Divine as well as a therapist, counselor, or trusted friend.)
3. Unexpressed Feelings or Opinions
My partner Ted and I have been together for 24 years this month. TWENTY-FOUR YEARS, YOU GUYS. And still, sometimes, I feel an awkward, unspoken truth hanging between us. Usually I don’t know what it is. Sometimes I try to pretend like it’s not there.
But when I’m smart, or brave, I say, like, “Hey. I feel weird around you right now. I don’t know why.” And then we figure it out together and I feel better. Sometimes I’m stressed about work or family drama and I need to talk about it. Sometimes he’s stressed about something but he’s trying to hide it and I can sense it and it makes me uncomfortable. Sometimes we just like each other so much, we feel worried that the other person doesn’t like us back, and it manifests as general unease.
Sometimes, we’re so worried, we fight first. But eventually, we figure it out and clear the air.
None of my relationships are as close as the one I have with Ted, but all of them require some form of truth telling at one time or another: an argument or discussion or some kind of sorting out.
List your primary relationships. Is there something hanging between you and the other person? Many friendships won’t have this happen too often, if ever. But when they do, in some cases, you’ll know what it is that needs to be spoken. In others, you won’t exactly. But make a list and get as clear as you can on what needs to be expressed, so you can clear the clutter between the two of you and rediscover your natural sense of connection and ease.
4. Neglected or Outgrown Goals, Desires, and Dreams
If you’ve always wanted to do something, and you still want to do it, do it!
Not all in one day, but one step at a time.
If you want to start a business, talk to business owners doing similar things to what you’d like to do, then decide what your first steps would be and take them one at a time. If you want to travel to another country, look at plane tickets and lodging to get a picture of what it will look like to plan your trip. Decide how much you will need to save before getting your trip in the books. If you want to write, decide where you will sit, and set aside a little time every week to sit there and actually write.
On the other hand, if you don’t still want to do it, don’t!
When I was a kid, I wanted to be like Marylou Retton and win an olympic gold. Then, one day, I didn’t want that anymore. Later, I wanted to be a movie star. I eventually grew out of that goal too. Despite the fact that I never reached either of these goals, I learned a lot from the time I spent pursuing them. A goal need not be realized in order to be valuable.
Your goals, too, might change on you at any time. List your goals as you believe them to be now. Are these all things that still inspire you and fill you with a sense of happy anticipation and delight? Do you feel satisfied by the process of moving toward them? Or would you feel freer if you allowed yourself to let them go?
If a dream doesn’t make you feel excited to get up in the morning, you probably either need to take action on it, or let it go.
Did you like this post? Here’s part 2.
And, if you’d like support with letting go of old patterns, habits, and stories that are holding you back, that’s one of my specialties! I’d love for you to check out my Akashic clearing work and schedule a session with me soon.