3 Steps for Dealing with Subliminal Clutter

apple blossomsNow that I’ve embraced the clutter-free, minimalist way of life, it has become second nature for me to glance around our home and think, “What can I release today?” As I’m going from one room to the next, or am taking dishes to the sink, I invariably find something else that can go into the “giveaway” box. It is an ongoing process, and I enjoy it.

Clutter at its most basic level is anything that gets in the way of living the life you want to live. It drags you down and makes you feel heavy. It can be physical clutter, of course. Or digital clutter, as thesimplerlife.net describes.

But there is another form of clutter that is not so easy to address. I’m talking about the unseen “stuff” that lurks in our minds. The subliminal clutter, if you will.

Subliminal/mental clutter can be every bit as destructive and disruptive as other types of clutter. And it comes in many varieties. Some of these are:

  • Negative thoughts
  • Unhealthy relationships
  • Outdated attitudes
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • The need always to be right
  • Regrets
  • Unfounded guilt
  • Worries
  • Envious longing
  • Old grudges

When dealing with below-the-surface mental clutter, the first step is bringing it to your awareness. Look at it. Name it. Oftentimes we are not even aware that something is bugging us or not serving our best interests until we actually stop and identify it.

The second step is to decide if it is no longer serving you. Is this quality bringing more joy to your life? Or is it blocking the flow of energy you would prefer to embrace?

The third step is to consider that it may be time to release this manifestation of subliminal clutter. It might be time to let it go.

If the process seems too daunting to do alone, don’t underestimate the value of seeking help from a mental health professional. As Erin of unclutterer.com suggests,

When clutter is out of control in your physical space, you can turn to a professional organizer to help you get things in order — so why not turn to a professional to help you get rid of the mental clutter?

Getting rid of subliminal/mental clutter leads to greater clarity and peace of mind. It also creates the space for new insights and ideas. It may not be easy, but, ultimately, it’s worth the effort.

Your turn: “What can you release today?”

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14 Responses to 3 Steps for Dealing with Subliminal Clutter

  1. good morning, christianna, and thank you for “what can i release today?” that is a lovely way to rephrase “what else of this g&*()(*n s#*t can i throw out?” it’s much more serene. and elegant, of course. just ran eight years of my journals through the cross-shredder (i borrowed my mother’s), skimming through them as i went. they were never intended for others to read, and as i advance in age i am making sure that all such material is destroyed and not left behind for my family to deal with. i see this as a releasing of old angst and endowing the future with less of it. sort of uncluttering the future!

  2. good morning, christianna, and thank you for “what can i release today?” that is a lovely way to rephrase “what else of this g&*()(*n s#*t can i throw out?” it’s much more serene. and elegant, of course. just ran eight years of my journals through the cross-shredder (i borrowed my mother’s), skimming through them as i went. they were never intended for others to read, and as i advance in age i am making sure that all such material is destroyed and not left behind for my family to deal with. i see this as a releasing of old angst and endowing the future with less of it. sort of uncluttering the future!

  3. Avatar christianna
    christianna says:

    Mara, I applaud your courage and boldness in shredding those journals! You effectively did a “one-two punch,” releasing mental clutter (old angst) that was in a physical form (old journals). Well done!

  4. Avatar christianna
    christianna says:

    Mara, I applaud your courage and boldness in shredding those journals! You effectively did a “one-two punch,” releasing mental clutter (old angst) that was in a physical form (old journals). Well done!

  5. Thanks for linking to my site, I really appreciate it. I’m always thankful for people who extend the decluttering concept beyond the physical. Physical decluttering is important, yes, but there is SO MUCH more to truly decluttering than that. What you call subliminal clutter I often call mental or emotional clutter. Different terms, same concept. Thanks for the great article!

  6. Thanks for linking to my site, I really appreciate it. I’m always thankful for people who extend the decluttering concept beyond the physical. Physical decluttering is important, yes, but there is SO MUCH more to truly decluttering than that. What you call subliminal clutter I often call mental or emotional clutter. Different terms, same concept. Thanks for the great article!

  7. Avatar christianna
    christianna says:

    Sam, no problem — thanks for stopping by this corner of the blogosphere!

  8. Avatar christianna
    christianna says:

    Sam, no problem — thanks for stopping by this corner of the blogosphere!

  9. Outstanding. I sometimes do the same: walk around looking for clutter to move out. I hadn’t even considered applying the same principles to my mind/memories/psyche. Its like a whole new deep, dark closet to clean out! And I definitely need to unload some of the c**p in there. Great idea. Thanks.

  10. Outstanding. I sometimes do the same: walk around looking for clutter to move out. I hadn’t even considered applying the same principles to my mind/memories/psyche. Its like a whole new deep, dark closet to clean out! And I definitely need to unload some of the c**p in there. Great idea. Thanks.

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  12. Barbara, just when we un-clutterers think we have a handle on one area of clutter, out jumps another! I guess this will keep us from ever getting bored 🙂

    Thanks for visiting!

  13. I find if I keep my surroundings fairly clutter free, it is much easier to clear my mind. It seems like there is a connection between outer and inner life, well, at least for minimalists. 🙂

    Lovely blog btw.

  14. Muji, you are so right! For instance, I find it much easier to work when my desktop is clear of everything but essentials (computer, notepad and pen). When there is less visual stuff vying for my attention, I am able to focus much more clearly on the task at hand.

    And, thank you 🙂