Personal Growth

Spiritual Spring Cleaning: How to Sort Out Your Mental Clutter

photo by Samantha Gades

The other day, a ray of sunlight poured in through the window, illuminating my desk. I was horrified to discover that it was covered with dust. Not just a fleck here and there, but entire sheets. As unpleasant as it was to see all the dust, this moment of illumination (in both senses of the word) was vital, prompting me to address the issue. And what causes dust? Clutter. Letting things pile up instead of taking care of them when they appear. We all have these pockets of hidden “dust” in our lives. As long as they stay tucked away, our problems will persist. If you truly want to declutter your mind, it’s time to face your issues and tackle them once and for all!

Ways we hide our inner “dirt”

1) Escape

Indulging in food or intoxicants. Using entertainment (music, TV, etc.) to drown out the inner voices. Throwing ourselves into our work or becoming perpetually “busy.” These are all things we do to escape. For me, the Internet has been my #1 method of escapism. Whenever it’d be time to start a new blog or tackle a difficult scene in my story, I’d suddenly find myself conducting Google searches on topics that had nothing to do with what I was working on!

2) Suppress

“It’s no big deal.” “I’ll take care of it tomorrow.” “It’s not that bad.” This is the internal dialogue we use to convince ourselves that something isn’t bothering us. In my case, these issues often arise from the actions of others–a person not paying me what I’m worth or treating me with respect. Rather than confront the person, I’ll often bottle it up. This only works for so long. Which brings us to the next point…

3) Act Out

Our family. Our coworkers. The random sales clerk. These all become unwitting victims of our displeasure with issues we can’t resolve. Often, the process of suppression leads to acting out because when something is bubbling inside of us, eventually it will explode. Other times, the issue compels us to immediately lash out at someone else, whether or not they’re to blame. In Moby Dick, Captain Ahab goes on a hapless revenge quest against the whale responsible for his missing leg, endangering his entire crew in the process. When anyone dares to challenge his authority, he scares them into submission–sometimes at gunpoint.

What’s a better solution? Acknowledge our issues directly. Only then can we clean them up. Sometimes this may involve taking action. Other times, we should let go and move on. For me, once I push through that difficult writing project or confront something that’s bothering me, I always feel 100 times better afterwards. As for Ahab–maybe therapy would have helped!

But what if we don’t know the issue is there in the first place?

Going back to the example of my desk, I wasn’t aware of the presence of dust because I wasn’t around during the peak visibility hours. In this case, it wasn’t like I was avoiding the problem.

Sometimes, though, it’s not about what you’re doing but what you’re NOT doing

See if this sounds familiar. You’re on a roll with your weight loss program. You’ve got the body you’ve always dreamed of. You tell yourself, “I can take a day off from working out.” “I don’t have to eat healthy today.” These thought patterns lodge themselves back into your brain and several months and jelly donuts later, you are a jelly donut.


You started meditating as a way to work on emotional issues or undo negative patterns in your life. Soon you’re happier and healthier and everything seems to be going your way–jobs, relationships, etc. You think, “I don’t need to bother with meditation anymore. That’s only for people with problems.”

Before you know it, all the old issues–and maybe some new ones–start cropping up again.

How do you prevent this?

You must perform routine maintenance–on your body, your home, and your mind

If you clean your home on a regular basis, you won’t have to worry about all the dust and dirt building up. In the same way, you should monitor your mind at regular intervals to keep the mental clutter from piling up. An unpleasant nagging sensation might turn into a full-blown crisis if you don’t address it. Listen to your gut–it’s usually right!

How to declutter your mind for good

We all have pockets of hidden ?dust? in our lives--limiting beliefs, bad habits, unaddressed issues. Learn how to tackle your issues for good and keep your inner world pristine! | | declutter your mind | mental clarity | quiet your mind | mindfulness | cleanse your mind | limiting beliefs | intentional living | release technique | releasing negativity |

Part of keeping our mind clear and at peace involves activating our highest mental frequencies. Make a list of everything that makes you feel energized and alive. This could be activities, locations, books, movies, and music. For me, this involves hiking in the hills and listening to upbeat music like disco and funk.

Do the inner and outer work that brings out the best version of you. This could mean devoting time each day to work on your passion projects, following through on your commitments to others AND yourself, and giving your uninterrupted attention to your relationships.

When things are going well, don’t interpret that as a sign to quit. Use that as incentive to keep going, knowing that what you’re doing is working!

But what about when things go bad?

Often, the “dirt” in our lives shows up to nudge us in the right direction. The dust on my table told me it was time to clean. An illness is a sign that we need to take better care of ourselves.

Other times, these trouble spots emerge in the form of disappointment.

When things don’t go as we had hoped, it’s usually because we’re either going about it the wrong way or we need to redefine our priorities.

At the beginning of Bridge to Terabithia, Jess has his hopes set on being the fastest runner in school. When he loses the race (even worse–in his mind–to a girl), he’s crushed. As it turns out, though, what he really wanted was respect and appreciation. Even if he had won, the joy would have only been temporary. It is only when he learns to love himself and to treat others with the same level of kindness that he expects in return that his life changes for the better.

Keeping your inner world pristine

Whether we’re referring to physical or mental clutter, the reasons for clinging to it can be the same: sentimental attachment, habit, laziness, fear. For years, I’ve kept bags full of clothes that I knew I probably wouldn’t wear again but couldn’t bring myself to get rid of because they represented memories.

Reading The Biggest Mistakes That Keep You From Living a Miraculous Life, though, changed my perspective. I realized that “hoarding” these sentimental items was actually preventing me from making room for new things in my life–both literally and metaphorically. Plus, it was a pain whenever I had to find something I?did?actually need!

In short, then, get rid of the items, habits, and beliefs that no longer serve you and maintain the ones that do. Stay on top of routine cleaning, even if you think you don’t need it. If you sense an issue cropping up, don’t throw a rug over it. Invite it into the opening so you can address it head-on. When problems do occur, ask yourself, “What do I need to do differently?”

If you want to go deeper into decluttering your life, the book?Enough Already! Clearing Mental Clutter to Become the Best You?addresses the ways in which our drive to cram as much stuff as possible into our schedules is leaving us overwhelmed and dissatisfied–and what to do about it.

Sometimes, though, our inner dirt can be buried so far down (no pun intended) that just when we think it’s gone for good, it jumps out from behind a corner like the monster in a scary movie. And usually, of course, at the worst possible time!

That’s because our subconscious programming keeps running the same old habits and stories, even when they no longer serve us. For me, I was suppressing years of resentments — toward myself and others — and the harder I tried to bottle them up, the greater they grew in intensity. It’s only when I learned to release them that I finally began to experience true peace.

The process of wiping the slate clean seems simple enough, but it can be challenging because our mind is constantly talking back to us. That’s why it’s essential to have a guide who can “talk” you through the process.

For me, the Release Technique’s Abundance Course has been absolutely instrumental in helping me gain the clarity of mind so I can create and go about my day without being bombarded by a stream of negative inner chatter. Plus, it’s much cheaper than a therapist! Click here to learn how you, too, can achieve a sparkling inner world.

Tell me: What moment uncovered the “dust” lurking in the corners of your life? How did you address it?

5 thoughts on “Spiritual Spring Cleaning: How to Sort Out Your Mental Clutter”

  1. I can’t say there was one moment. I think a lifestyle of frequently moving has kept me from getting buried under clutter. Although, even though I lived in Thailand for many years, I continued to move my stuff with me until I had to give it all away when we left the country. I think it helps that I’m not overly sentimental. But I certainly remember times in which I had way too much stuff, junk really.

    These days I’m building my life back up so I’m trying to be methodical about how I do it. I don’t want more stuff than I need!

    Great sunlight metaphor. I think we can all relate to seeing the dust on surfaces in our homes, especially our desks!

    1. Yes, I used to move about once a year and live with multiple roommates which helped to keep the clutter down. Now though I’ve been in the same place for nearly six years which is good except that it’s caused me to really get lax with the clutter!

  2. Hmm – that’s a difficult one.

    I’m going through a ‘working later and later and later’ phase at the moment.
    Obviously it’s unsustainable because eventually I either won’t get to bed at all or I will be asleep all day to catch up. I know this is a problem – I loose out socially when I’m asleep and everyone else is awake.

    It has to stop – but just at the moment I can’t seem to break the cycle.
    Looks like I need that ray of sunlight!

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