Tripping over your ‘Emotional Clutter’ – Five Types to Spot

emotions affect our lives

We all have some emotions that we do not always deal with effectively.  These emotions can affect our lives in many ways.

These could be labeled “emotional clutter” and include feelings of resentment or anger, loss, fear or worry, insecurities and guilt or regret.

Psychologists agree that the study of emotions is not an exact science.  There is general agreement that self-awareness of the interaction between body and mind is a starting point to coping with invading emotions. If we are skilled in spotting types of emotional clutter scattered across our psyche, then it may be easier to sidestep the impact it may have on our lives.

Emotions guide our lives

It is worth looking at the way emotions guide our lives. Primary emotions are our first emotional reaction. They’re often followed by a more defended secondary emotion. Sometimes, we are only consciously aware of the secondary emotion.  This refers to the anger that covers up feeling hurt, embarrassment overpowering our sadness, or anxiety masking a deeper fear.

These emotional responses directly influence what will happen next in our interaction with the world and with others. It is often the more hidden secondary emotions that become emotional clutter, making it harder to solve problems or make decisions.  We are not often aware of these deeper layer of feelings. Yet, they are powerful in the way it could affect our lives.

The types of emotional clutter that could affect us

We have all had strong emotions from time to time as we go through life. These are more often than not legitimate emotions linked to experiences. There are five we identify as potential emotional clutter:

1. Resentment or anger piling up
2. Too much loss to breathe in
3. Fear or worry waiting around every corner
4. Fine dust of insecurities all over
5. Guilt or regret clinging on

There’s an endless inter-dependency between our emotions or life experiences, and circumstances or events beyond our control impacting thereupon and vice versa. Constant worrying affect our peace of mind.

Ultimately, everyone of us knows which of these deep-seated emotions keep us from moving on greater well-being. Each set of emotions brings with itself a way to overcome them constructively.  This means acknowledging not all is in our control, forgiving others (and ourselves), being realistic in our thinking, letting go of the past or simply starting to be more kind to ourselves.

The psychological version of a jumbled, overcrowded closet or pantry is a cluttered mind.  This makes transformation and healthy living harder. We may very well have to learn a few techniques and lifestyle tools to rewire our brains enroute to a more simple life. But it will be so worth it.

Deal with it – don’t accumulate

Like Spring cleaning for the home, we should also clean out the clutter we may most neglect.  This may be disappointment, jealousy, presumed failure and other negative emotions which occupy our minds.

We can choose how to respond to what happened to us – including if it will clutter our minds, even when we cannot control that it happened in the first place.

Forces beyond our control can take away everything we possess, except one thing, namely our freedom to choose how to respond to the situation. We cannot control what happens to us in life, but we can always control what we will feel and do about what happens to us.

There are simple tricks to deal with ‘emotional clutter’. Let’s share about them in the next write-up!



• Lisa Firestone, Ph.D., clinical psychologist, Author “Conquer Your Critical Inner Voice: A Revolutionary Program to Counter Negative Thoughts and Live Free from Imagined Limitations::

• Hospital Plan Prices Comparison courtesy Genesis Medical Scheme:

Cost of the top 10 Hospital Plans in South Africa in 2018

• Tamar Chansky, Ph.D., psychologist, Author “Freeing Yourself from Anxiety: 4 Simple Steps to Overcome Worry and Create the Life You Want::

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