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What Is Emotional Decluttering?

Emotional Decluttering Is a Thing, So I Tried It — and You Should, Too

Mental health and wellbeing is very close to our hearts, and while we truly aim to have an always-on approach to covering all aspects of mental health, we have chosen to shine an extra bright light on #WorldMentalHealth today, and for the rest of October.

We bring you The Big Burn Out — a content series made up of honest personal essays, expert advice and practical recommendations.

We've read our fair share of advice about how important it is to declutter your home and office. The more organised your space is, the more likely you are to feel clear-headed and optimistic about your life in general. What if the same were true for your emotional health, though? What if we practiced emotional decluttering in order to eject all the personal ties that bog us down and prevent us from moving forward?

I first encountered the idea of emotional decluttering two years ago, when I was struggling to maintain happy relationships with my mother and my then-boyfriend (who was about to become my ex). In both camps there was quite a bit of toxicity happening, but both people had been in my life for so long that it was hard for me to recognise this fact.

I worked with a therapist, as well as a couple of energy healers (I know, very hippie of me), all of whom gave me practices to cut emotional ties with people in my life who were exacerbating my stress and anxiety. These exercises also gave me the chance to clear out negative emotions or feelings that were stopping me from acting positively in the world.

It all sounded a bit hogwash to me at first, kind of like the wonky stuff you read in cheap self-help books. It wasn't long, though, before I realised that emotionally decluttering made a huge difference . . . mentally, emotionally, and even physically.

The concept of emotional decluttering is built on the belief that we hold onto relationships or experiences in our minds long after they've actually happened or ended, much like we simply can't throw away that drawer full of college memorabilia that doesn't really hold any value at the end of the day. After doing this decluttering work over the course of a few months, I realised that I had been holding onto some past friendships that ended badly, as well as romantic relationships that never worked out. I was also holding onto a lot of anger toward my mother for events that transpired in our family and nearly broke us all apart.

I started with something called emotional cord cutting. It's when you close your eyes and picture yourself in a bright, open field. You then imagine the person you can't stop thinking about, or you're holding a grudge toward, walking onto the field and facing you. Then you envision a ray of light from above literally cutting through the cord that is connecting you and this person. One therapist even told me you can picture yourself pulling out the cord from your belly button and removing all the harmful residue that's leftover from the relationship.

In addition to this exercise, I would journal daily, meditate, and delete people from my social media accounts who were causing me to feel stress, rather than bringing me joy. Within a couple of months I could feel a significant shift in my attitude. I felt lighter and clearer than I ever did before. I saw how much time I used to waste thinking about people who weren't adding value to my life, and I came out the other side more confident, more forward-thinking, and more open to establishing healthier relationships with people around me. I swear I even woke up in the morning with more energy.

For anyone who wants to hit the reset button in their life, I highly recommend giving emotional decluttering a shot. You could experience a boost of positivity in your life, and it might help you move past hurtful experiences you've endured recently. You definitely have nothing to lose by trying it.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Sheila Gim
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