You may have already seen an episode from Netflix’s new series Tidying Up With Mari Kondo. Kondo is best known for her international bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. The book is a decluttering guide that promises to transform your space and—by proxy—your life.
While the book was released in 2014, Kondo’s method of tidying up has just recently captivated Americans through the Netflix series. On social media, Tidying Up inspired hilarious reactions about the way we attach ourselves to all that stuff surrounding our lives and the challenges of ridding ourselves of clutter. By episode two you may realize we live in a culture that is deeply and emotionally tied to stuff. And boy that stuff piles up rapidly!
In the series, Kondo uses her KonMari Method to get overwhelmed and exhausted clients to clean up. First she gives gratitude to their homes and then she has them confront their clothes collection. Everything in closets, drawers, coverts and boxes has to come out. The moment when clients look at their wardrobe accumulation dead on is cathartic because they really have no idea how much they have until they’re forced to confront a mountain of clothes.
Kondo says that seeing the pile helps you see how much you’ve accumulated. When stuff is out of sight, it’s easy to be unaware of what you really have. But seeing it all piled up helps you take accountability for it.
We at Productive Learning understand this step too well. We engage in our own method of tidying up but we take on clients’ thought clutter. In order to have a mindset breakthrough, we must first acknowledge what we have accumulated in our minds. Our beliefs (conscious and unconscious), the emotions that dominate us, how we react to them and how we allow them to determine our happiness—all of this is cluttered thinking and like our stuff, they can overwhelm us.
Our coaches are constantly guiding our clients through the knots of emotions. If you’ve ever taken Beyond Reasons you may remember that moment when we pick through your unconscious beliefs. Just like our closets, our minds and hearts are also bursting with over-stuffed emotions we can’t seem to explain or control. Being sloppy with confronting our feelings and emotions leads to the clutter in our minds. We harbor unsupportive beliefs about ourselves and respond to life poorly.
This year, Productive Learning is kicking off a series of exploration of that clutter. Every month we will correspond with an emotion that keeps you in a negative feedback loop. Like the KonMari Method, we will hold a feeling and find the sparks of joy in it. But rather than discarding fear, sadness and worry, we will discard ineffective ways of how we think about them.
Emotions aren’t clutter but we treat them in a way that’s like clutter. Many people would like to throw away fear, pain, anxiety, worry, feeling overwhelmed. But that’s impossible. Our minds aren’t programmed to trash them. Instead, we try stuffing them away by avoiding circumstances, things and people; by procrastinating, by not upsetting the cart and staying in our comfort zone.
Consider emotions that repeatedly marinate in your head. Do they look something like this?
The list is long but often times, you’ll find it’s the same feelings getting caught up in your own narrative. Your thoughts dominate that narrative and if you don’t know how to dominate your thoughts, those feelings pile up in the closets of your mind. They keep you feeling trapped as life marches on and you become frustrated wondering why you can’t make positive change. When left out of sight, unattended thoughts can lead to depression, anxiety and chronic worry.
Kondo says that tidying up is a dialog with yourself. We commence that dialog by exploring any and all feelings we’re storing. Remember that our aim isn’t to discard our emotions. Instead, we want you to take stock of what comes up first, what rises with intensity. We show gratitude and appreciation as we summon them. See and feel what’s there, what keeps popping up.
Pull out the anxiety you have at work, the frustration of not knowing how to communicate with your spouse, the shame from the money woes. Envision yourself gathering each emotion in the same way you’d gather the high-waist, tapered jeans that have been in your closet since the 90s.
Imagine yourself putting each feeling on the bed of your mind, stacking up a mountain of emotions. Go into all those closets and coverts of memory where wounds were created. Go back to being bullied, back to getting fired, back to getting dumped, back to losing a loved one.
Emotional intelligence entails coming to terms with what we carry. This is how we begin consciously disrupting our negative feedback loop that keeps you feeling stuck. We’re inviting you to feel the freedom and empowerment that comes with gathering your emotional clutter.
Author and spirituality teacher, Marianne Williamson, beautifully wrote in her book A Return to Love that the only purpose for keeping stuff is when things, “add light to the world in the form of beauty and pleasure”. This is how we assign meaning to things, how we value each item in a way that contributes happiness to our lives and our world. In the words of Kondo, it’s how things “spark joy”. Even those (so-called) negative feelings and emotions bring us beauty and pleasure.
For 2019, we’re guiding you into finding appreciation and love for ALL your feelings, even those you don’t want to experience like powerlessness, fear, insecurity, worry. We are examining your emotional clutter with the belief that all emotions have the capacity of bringing you happiness.
What if you knew how to turn the fear into something that propelled a breakthrough? What if feeling overwhelmed actually made you trust yourself unconditionally? What if anxiety triggered monk-like patience?
Productive Learning coaches are passionate about ushering you into a mindset that creates an extraordinary life. Consider how you want to begin 2019 and how you want to end it. If you decide to tidy up your home, consider tidying up of your emotional clutter too.
But you don’t need to become a neat freak or a world-class organizer to master your feelings. You just need to open the closets of your mind and know all the wounds of your heart. Get ready to toss out the outdated, self-judgmental baggage for a mindset that gives you mastery of making your emotions work for you, even when fear is present.
This year lets love our emotions. Make it magical by permanently tidying up your mind. When you re-organize your mental closets of emotions you’ll find the spark of joy for your fear, self-doubt, anxiety. You’ll thank them for lessons past, put them away neatly and appreciate them for the guidance they give you.
Williamson, Marianne (1992). A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles (225). New York: Harper Collins.