01/18/2013 04:51 pm ET Updated Mar 20, 2013

De-cluttering: Detecting Discomforts in Your Life

Clutter busting is about becoming aware of -- and doing something about -- the discomforts in your life.

We get used to being uncomfortable. It's expected. We learn to endure what we don't like. "I don't like this, but I'll put up with it." Eventually you stop noticing that something doesn't feel good.

Clutter busting calls all that into question. "Wait a second. What don't I like? What doesn't feel good? What feels uncomfortable when I wear it? What don't I like looking at? What person is irritating and hurtful to me? What don't I enjoy doing?"

You're saying that you want to know where in your life you are uncomfortable so that you can do something about it, so you can remove what doesn't feel very good.

Just making the decision to begin looking can make you feel better. Then you consider the first thing. You say, "You know, I don't really care for this shirt." You let it go, and you feel even better. You've removed the first discomfort! There's some relief, right away. This inspires you to ask of the next thing.

This is your life! That's what this is all about. You get to decide.

Growing up, our parents made a lot of decisions for us. We had to put up with a lot of it. Our teachers made decisions for us, and we had to live with that. People at church told us how we had to behave in order to get God's love.

But we're adults now. It's our life. We get to say what we like and what we don't like based on what makes us uncomfortable and what we don't enjoy. "I don't like this and I'm going to let it go!"

I was working with a client this week. She was telling me about a client she was doing business with. When she talked about the client, her voice got tiny and she sounded tense. I asked her to elaborate. It turns out the client wasn't doing the things he promised on his end. She made excuses for his shortcomings. I said it sounded like she was trying to cover up her anger over the situation. Suddenly she realized she was being taken advantage of by her client. Her anger flared up. She was amazed at her feelings. I said that when we listen to ourselves, we take care of ourselves. She decided to stop taking the hit and to have an honest talk with the client.

There's a freedom that comes when we realize we don't have to endure the pain. You don't have to settle with being miserable. You can actually remove what you don't like.

It's like removing a stone from your shoe. You get to feel better walking around your life.

Brooks Palmer is the author of Clutter Busting: Letting Go of What's Holding You Back (New World Library, 2009) and Clutter Busting Your Life: Clearing Physical and Emotional Clutter to Reconnect With Yourself and Others (New World Library, 2012). To schedule an over-the-phone clutter busting session, go to

For more by Brooks Palmer, click here.

For more on emotional wellness, click here.