The unseen "clutter" that's keeping you stuck

Is it time to clear out that mental and emotional inbox?

You know that urge you sometimes get to straighten up your office or to clean out your files? You know that compulsion you sometimes get to purge things from your closets or storage spaces at home? Or what about that haunting feeling you get that drives you to prune your email inbox or clear it out completely?

If you're familiar with any of that inner nagging, you typically know two things. First, you know that when it strikes, you can't ignore the urge. You just have to do something about it. Second, you know that letting things be, letting the untamed mess fester and continue to grow will impact your success and fulfillment…if it hasn't already.

 Most of us who are oriented toward personal and professional improvement and optimizing our experience of success have experienced, to some degree the benefit of clearing stuff out. We know that living and working in mess and clutter is, at best, a distraction, and at worse, a real impediment to achieving what we want. We recognize the barrier to our success and fulfillment, and we do something about it. We get it out of the way!

But what of the mess that we can't see, and therefore can't dispose of as easily? As aware and practiced as we may be with respect to clearing out and letting go of physical (and electronic) clutter, we can be oblivious to piles of mental and emotional clutter that threaten to box us in and keep us from realizing our ultimate potential.

This non-physical clutter shows up in our interactions and relationships with others as well as in our inner world and our relationship with ourselves. It is made up of our thoughts and feelings, our expressions and actions, our decisions and commitments, and our motivations and intentions. 

Because it is so complex and gnarly but not readily observable, by the time we're actually aware of it we're usually so deeply in the mess that we don't even know what has happened.

But what if we were to gain superpower vision that would allow us to see this invisible mess? For most of us, the scene would be like something out of an episode of Hoarder's. Piles, loads, and bags. Heaps, mounds, and stashes.   

Getting a view of all this accumulated "stuff," seeing it as we try to work around and within it would probably shock us all, but also bug us to the point of action. When we see physical things that we're bumping into, and that are knocking us back we move them the heck out of the way! So what if you could do the same with these invisible obstacles?

Whether it's resentment, guilt, animosity, worry, regret, or fear. Whether it's pre-judgment of situations and interactions. Whether it's holding on to past injustice and expecting more of the same. Whether it's justifying maintaining perceptions to avoid what might actually be true. Hidden "junk" like this trips us up. Just like actual (or virtual) junk does!

The first step is to start seeing this ever-present, concealed, and threatening "clutter." You have that power now, but you have to choose to start using it. By beginning to observe your thoughts, feelings, actions, and when you do, I guarantee you that if you allow yourself to start seeing you'd get that same nagging urge to clear it away. Just like those times when you just can't focus on anything else until you clean off your desk. You wouldn't stand for it!

Categories: Business Insights, Human Resources