It is not because things are difficult that we dare not venture.
It is because we dare not venture that they are difficult.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Emotional Deadwood

Do you suffer from emotional clutter? Is suffering even the right word? Maybe it is. Perhaps a better description is 'living with' emotional clutter. Emotional clutter is like an addiction.

You carry your emotional baggage around thinking you can easily handle it, especially if you treat it like it doesn't exist. Eventually it reaches a point when you feel it's out of control, or even worse, you are out of control.

Learning how to 'let go' is the cornerstone of cleaning emotional clutter. It can be one of the most empowering experiences of your life. As you let go, you free up space to expand, unleashing the reasons why you hold onto your feelings.

Emotional clutter is a form of interference. When a river is blocked with trees, logs, bushes, etc. the water doesn't flow easily. The river begins to stagnate. So many people ask me why their lives are so difficult, why they always feel stuck. My answer is based on this same principle of the river being cluttered with debris.

Our emotional debris is like deadwood in the river. The more you remove and eliminate the deadwood, the better the flow. Generally we hold onto emotional clutter because there is fear, and often shame as well. When we finally make the decision to clear the deadwood, or debris, it means facing the fear and doing it anyway.

If your inner landscape is cluttered, your outer landscape may reflect that. Often people with emotional baggage collect material baggage in the form of clutter in their homes. Cleaning the external clutter is marvelous, but unless you clear the emotional clutter, you may be destined to repeat the cluttered house over and over again.

You may think that hanging onto things keeps you secure, so you don't feel loss and scarcity. In fact, this is far from the truth. We hold onto things because we already feel loss and scarcity. It only amplifies the feelings.

One of the first rules of manifesting abundance is to pay yourself first and to tithe 10%. Give it away, even if you feel you don't have enough. This is the act of trust. It shows faith in the knowledge that abundance will come back to you ten fold and there is abundance for everyone.

Holding onto clutter and emotional baggage may be the way you feel worth, or self confidence. It may be a false sense of strength and security. Remember, these are the times when you alone are holding the deadwood in place to block the river.

Many people are afraid to cry. They fear that if they simply let go then they will be washed away in a uncontrollable flood of tears. The truth is, once the dam is clear, there is an initial surge of water, eventually slowing to a steady flow.

It is the holding on to fear that causes so much pain. As you hold onto feelings, refusing to acknowledge them, you put yourself in a very tedious juggling act. You have assumed the role of guard, caretaker, juggler and strongman, not to mention judge & critic. There is plenty of fodder for the judge/critic to use to berate you and deem you unworthy.

Now all this could have been easily avoided, had you simply felt the feelings at the time of the incident. Sadly, the times we are really good at that are when we are very young. Something hurts = we cry, we're angry = we yell, stamp our feet, etc. I say this is sad because it is our ever-so enlightened society that has taught our parents to stop that process.

How many times have you been in the grocery store and heard a youngster being told not to cry, stop being upset, don't be angry, etc? This is when we learned to hold the feelings. This is when the dam began. Yes, we can thank our parents, but they were only doing their best with the same thing that happened to them when they were little. It is a societal pattern and it is rampant.

Learning how to let go is relatively easy once you know the steps;

1. Awareness
2. Intention
3. Choice
4. Action

These simple steps are used consistently in the process of releasing emotional clutter. Knowing how to use the tools is easy, it's actually the sorting needed to create the awareness that can be the most challenging part.

Sorting is the precursor to transformation and change. It is the opening the door so that you actually have the awareness. This step can require assistance. It's difficult to do when you are standing in it.

It's like the TV series 'Clean Sweep' on TLC. Organizing professionals come into your home and help you sort your physical clutter. You can then have awareness, see your intention to change the situation, choose what you keep and what you eliminate, then take action by throwing things away or having a yard sale. The end result is usually two nearly cleared, clutter-free and renovated rooms. You can see some emotional awareness happening, but remember, it took years of inner emotional cluttering to develop into these seriously cluttered homes.

The emotional changes do not happen overnight. Will the owners of the home return to their emotional habit of clutter? They may because their inner landscape was not cleared. Generally this inner cleaning works differently. The inner cleaning happens, and then the external cleaning happens as a result. The lasting effects are there because the people actually released the emotional deadwood creating the clutter in their homes.

It's simple, when we feel cluttered inside, we create clutter outside. One exception to this rule are the obsessive 'neat freaks'. They obsessively clean externally attempting to create inner order because they are so emotionally cluttered and may not know how to deal with the emotional deadwood. Either way, it is an act of control. We control our outer circumstances if we feel completely out of control on the inside. Or, we are so controlled on the inside, holding back the emotion that we are totally out of control on the outside.

Of course, there is a third option, which we can all aspire to - the balanced person, centered, at peace within and living a clutter-free life. In fact, balanced people may be detached from material things. They have created an open space for flow. We can look at these folks with awe and amazement because they experience peace within. No longer is life about control and chaos, a battle between the inner and outer emotional life. It is now about peace and balance.

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