THE BLOG
10/19/2013 08:40 am ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Clearing the Clutter

I recently moved and this was no ordinary move. My two sisters and I have lived together for the past 12 years. Our mother was killed in 1988, and we had lived together off and on as teenagers and early on in our 20s. In 2001 we all ended up together, grown adults living as roommates.

This was our survival mechanism that had served us well when we were younger, navigating the grief of our mother's death, but now as adults, it's easy to see how it's kept us safe in this nest we've built for ourselves and incapable of real growth. Safe from other relationships, safe from growing and safe from prospering. Tired of playing it safe and ready to soar, we decided to venture out on our own.

I'll save you all of the emotional turmoil, fighting, misplaced anger, crying, guilt and blame -- that's an entire blog by itself. Instead, I'll skip to the packing and clutter part. Why do we keep so much stuff? You know, the stuff we'll save for later, wear when we're skinnier, read later, regift later, use again, put up next year for the holidays even though it's broken and we swear we'll get it fixed before then. Plain old clutter. I will admit, that I may hold on to things just a bit too long. I don't like to waste anything, and can find a use for almost everything.

So I decided to do the exact opposite of what I normally do. I was going to do what all those articles tell you to do about organizing and cleaning -- if I haven't used it or worn it in six months, time to toss it.

I filled my entire SUV to the roof with bags of clothes, electronics, shoes, handbags, kitchen stuff, DVDs, books, CDs, office supplies and took it all to a local battered women's transitional home.

Immediately I felt lighter. Next, was cleaning out my files. Why was I holding on to bills from 2002, repair invoices on the last car I owned and maps of San Francisco? Tossed. My recycle bin was almost full by the time I was done. And lastly, I signed up to receive all my bills electronically, a little tool to keep me clutter free in the future.

All of this decluttering made my move easier and my unpacking a breeze. This got me thinking, what emotional stuff have I held onto that I also need to release? Now here comes the hard part...

My first few days in my new place sans sisters took some time to get adjusted to -- physically and more importantly, emotionally. I realized I had defined myself as "the big sister" and all that comes with that title. Without my little sisters here with me 24/7, who was I, really? I had to dig deep to find old limiting patterns and beliefs that kept me stuck. I had to really challenge myself to find out what it was I wanted in life. And then to gather the courage and strength to know I was worth everything I wanted -- in my career, marriage and family, the home I desired to live in, and how much money I wanted in my bank account.

Clearing out the emotional clutter was so much harder than the physical. And trust me, it's not pretty. Which is why I'm sure it's easier for us to ignore the emotional clutter than to dig through it and get rid of what's not serving us. Pain hurts and it's our natural human instinct to avoid getting hurt.

But after two weeks of being in my new place and clearing out this emotional clutter -- crying, meditating, journaling, healing, looking forward and making new goals -- I feel lighter. Just as clearing the physical stuff made my move easier and almost effortless, with my emotional clutter now gone I'm now moving through life in the same manner, with tremendous ease.

What emotional clutter are you holding on to without even realizing it? Where have you sacrificed yourself? What limiting beliefs do you subconsciously have that are holding you back in life?

I've come up with four simple steps to help you identify this emotional clutter and remove it from your life.

1. Get Clear
Get clear on who you are and what you want out of life. Go back to your child self. What did that child want in life? What did she want to be when she grew up? What did he enjoy doing the most?

2. Evaluate
Do a self-evaluation of what your innermost thoughts, feelings and beliefs are around what it is you want. Where are you judging yourself? How is your self-worth? Analyze why you have stayed at the same professional level for too long without advancing, or in a relationship that is not serving either of you.

3. Toss
Make a conscious and consistent effort to toss the emotional clutter and replace limiting beliefs with positive and supporting ones. Journal. Say mantras every day. Meditate. Read books on self-worth and improvement. Say "I love you" to yourself every day in the mirror. Sign up for daily emails from spiritual and uplifting teachers.

4. Move Ahead
Watch as you move through life with more ease, security and happiness. See new opportunities in your career manifest. Observe your money and how it flows to you with ease. And notice your relationships becoming happier, stable and more fluid.

Cleaning out the emotional clutter is a hard job. It takes willingness and dedication. It requires a daily conscious effort. There will be tears. There will be hard days. But the outcome is more than worth it. We spend way too much of our lives with emotional clutter weighing us down in life and we don't even realize it. What's holding you back from clearing the emotional clutter in your life? Start. Right. Now!

For more by Kelley Whitis, click here.

For more on happiness, click here.

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