4 ways to get even lighter and freer with the ABCs of decluttering: Always. Be. Clearing.
Here’s the final installment of this 4-part series on clearing non-physical and inner clutter.
This post features four more types of non-tangible clutter, and how you can free yourself up by letting them go.
Either-Or Fallacies and Polarization Traps
Often referred to as black and white thinking or us versus them scenarios, either-or fallacies or polarization traps are patterns of thought and behavior that tend to the far sides of any spectrum: either your confident or you’re shy. Either you’re rich or you’re poor. You’re the best or the worst, the coolest or the lamest, a hero or a villain.
You may also categorize other people in this way: the haves and the have-nots, the liberals and the conservatives, the good guys and the bad.
We can all fall into such patterns, so they’re nothing to be ashamed of. But detecting them and changing them will free you up. Why? Because either-or fallacies and polarization traps don’t give you an accurate picture of the world, and so they limit your potential, blind you to opportunities, and prevent you from being fully present with what’s really here.
So look deeply. Do you see yourself one way one day, and the opposite way the next, depending on your mood, or who you’re with, or the situation you happen to be in the midst of? Gorgeous then ugly, secure then anxious, on top of the world then in the depths of despair?
Look for such fallacies and traps in your self-image and thinking. Write them down. Then breathe, invoke divine support, and set the intention to brave the middle of the spectrum.
Being courageous enough to be present with whatever is here, rather than clinging to an extreme, feels more vulnerable, but it also feels more empowered and legitimate. In other words, extremes can feel like solid ground, but that is an illusion. We are not cartoons. We have shading, contour, and depth. While the middle of the spectrum can feel more amorphous and less certain, it is also the place where we can experience authenticity, connection, and true success.
Being such social creatures, the depth of our cultural programming is staggering to contemplate. While we need a large portion of our cultural programming in order to survive and thrive in our culture (e.g. red light means stop / pay for your food before you leave a restaurant / say what you think, but not exhaustively or in every situation), there’s also programming we will do much better to uninstall and delete.
A good place to start would be to notice where you have internalized critical beliefs about your own demographics, and the demographics of others. Do you inadvertently and subtly believe, for example, women are less valuable or beautiful after a certain age? Or, maybe you see a young hottie and without meaning to, you assume having so many chips placed on attractiveness means they will have nothing intelligent to offer any given conversation. You may similarly have stereotypes and assumptions paired with any given trait: age, race, income level, style, occupation, gender, music preference, sexual orientation, etc.
Again, this is nothing to be ashamed of. We are always trying to make sense of the world through stories and categorizations. When it comes to berries and leaves, this is helpful: some are poison and some will help sustain you through a long winter. But humans are more complex, and cannot be accurately sorted like foraged food.
So we have to look within and free up any beliefs that serve to limit our experience of ourselves and others. We are all inwardly vast, and surprising, and adaptable. If you think your opinion is not relevant because of your age, or you believe you’ll always be struggling because of how your family saw themselves in relation to the rest of the world, question such paradigms and let them shape your experience no longer.
And when you notice yourself expecting something from someone else before you’ve gotten to know them or given them a chance, question that too.
When we release such cultural programming, a whole new world opens up.
Guilt and Shame
It’s natural for all of us to feel guilt and shame on occasion. It can even be helpful in some instances: when we hurt someone’s feelings and realize we need to apologize, or when we discover we’re perpetuating suffering in some form and are inspired to change our behavior for the better.
But when you are going over and over something you’ve done or not done, and beating yourself up, and then starting all over again from the beginning, this is not serving you. We all make mistakes. But once we acknowledge those mistakes and make amends as appropriate and to the extent that is possible, we can let go of the past and live, once again, in the only time there really is: now.
Sometimes we hold onto guilt for something that was out of our control: like the death of a loved one. If only we had done something differently (we think) they may still be here, or perhaps they would have felt our love more powerfully before they died. While this is natural and common, it’s also an illusion. You can’t predict or prevent death. And even if you didn’t call them or send them flowers constantly, your loved one certainly felt and knew just how much they were loved.
If there’s something you just can’t seem to let go of and you keep inwardly punishing yourself again and again, or if this is an inner habit or pattern that will use any external behavior as an excuse for inner self-flagellation, you might want to try taking pine flower essence to help turn this pattern around. An active self-compassion practice can also work wonders.
Irritation and Resentment
Do you ever feel resentful or irritated for no detectable reason? Like, everyone and everything bugs you, but you can’t quite put your finger on what’s really wrong?
When this happens, it’s a sign that you need something that you’re not giving to yourself. Rest and downtime are likely the needs you’ve been steamrolling, but you also might need (for example) to express your creativity, go on an adventure, play and laugh with loved ones, clean out your garage, go for a run, or take concrete action steps toward your desires and dreams.
So the next time you feel that free-floating irritable feeling, sit down with your journal and a comforting beverage at the first available opportunity. Breathe, relax, and write about what you need. Then get that stuff in your calendar immediately. Make a plan for relaxing your mind, caring for your body, and tending to your soul.
For more help clearing invisible inner clutter, check out my Akashic clearing work.
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