How to Process an Emotion (Decluttering Emotions)

Have you ever wished you could declutter your emotions like you go through a cluttered room in your house and you can straighten things up? You can clear things out and get them organized. It feels so much more peaceful. You can, I’ll talk about some tools and supplies to get you started.

Just like there are simple tools to use when you’re decluttering in your house, there are some tools that you can use to declutter your emotions too. 

When you’re going to declutter your house you need a trash bag, a donate box, and maybe another basket for things that belong in your house, but they don’t belong where they are in your house. Then you need some simple questions like, “Do I need this? Do I use this? Do I like this?”

Your emotional space is the same.

You can have and learn some basic tools and some basic questions to help you figure out what to do with your emotions when they’re overwhelming or confusing. 


Prayer – You need wisdom outside yourself to know what to do with your emotions and make wise decisions. 

Vocabulary – You have to be able to identify what the emotions are. 

Permission – You need to give yourself permission to feel what you feel. Maybe you don’t struggle with that but so many women I talked to do. From their family of origin or from their church, they got the idea that it was only okay to feel certain things like happiness and joy. Emotions are involuntary, like blinking. When something comes at your face, it’s an involuntary thing to close your eyes. A feeling that you feel is involuntary. What you choose to do with it you’re a hundred percent responsible for. Don’t beat yourself up for feeling something because you didn’t have any control over what feeling came.

Awareness – Pay attention to what you’re feeling and to what makes you feel that way. The things you like, the things you don’t like, the things that are fun, the things that are hard. Choose to start being aware of those things. Start paying attention. 

Space – You want to feel your emotions. If you’re used to pushing them away, they can feel really scary and you may not want them to close. Give yourself space. You want to remember, you are not your emotions, they don’t contribute to your identity. Don’t tell yourself, “I’m feeling anxious, then I’m anxious.” No, it’s just a feeling. So you can give yourself space from that, set the emotion over here and look at it and think about it and listen to it rather than having it be part of you. Give yourself some space to listen to it and hear what it has to say without letting it tell you who you are.

Questions – Ask questions like Where did this emotion come from? Why am I feeling this way? What does it mean? Is this emotion even mine? Is this emotion a new emotion or old emotion? Expression – Your emotion needs to be expressed whether it’s to yourself, to a friend, to the Lord. Share how you are feeling and why. 

Support – This could be a friend, a group of friends, like a Bible study or a support group. It could be coaching. It could be counseling. What’s going to be best for you really depends on what you’re dealing with and how familiar you are with emotions or how foreign they are to you. How intimidating they emotions to you? Where you are and where you want to determine what level of support you need as you start digging into your emotions and trying to get familiar with them. Just like decluttering your house, there are different methods and approaches. You might attack one drawer at a time, or pick the spot that irritates you the most and work on that, or go through and clear out a bunch of trash or pile everything in a pile and only pull out what you want.

Approaches to Decluttering your emotions

There are all these different ways you can go about it. With your emotions, you can kind of do the same thing. You’ve got those trouble spots. Maybe it’s an emotion that just kind of lingers and you don’t really know why, but you’d like it to go away. Maybe it’s feeling rejected, feeling disappointed, feeling frustrated, feeling hurt. You feel like you’ve done what you needed to do, but it’s still there. That might be a place that would be good to get support and have somebody help you.

Another method is taking just one drawer or one little section. And so maybe looking at your life and asking the Lord to highlight something to work on. An emotion you’ve been ignoring or an emotion God wants to teach you. Maybe He wants to teach you peace. Maybe He wants to teach you joy. 

Hotspots as another of where stuff just tends to collect.

And so maybe it’s one of those things you’ve dealt with before, but here it is again. And that can particularly be like, where your kids push your buttons, like being lied to, or feeling like they’re trying to manipulate or control in some way. Those were big, hot buttons for me. Look at why that is. Overreacting often means you’re not looking at just the current situation. Your reaction is bigger because it’s tied to other things. Emotionally, I think that’s what the hotspots are. There’s already a level built up. And so something new hits it and it feels way bigger than it actually is. There’s an undercurrent that’s always going, and it gets tapped into sometimes. You can go back and deal with that undercurrent and reduce it and eventually be done with it.

And then think of the whole closet, or maybe even the attic where stuff just gets put that you don’t know what to do with or you don’t want to deal with. These are where it would be good to have support. You know, like decluttering your own house, having a friend to have to explain things to, or to help make decisions or whatever, brings a whole new light to things. Going through your emotional hall closet or attic will be better with help. If you’ve been hoping they would get better with time, it doesn’t. It takes time and effort.

God designed you to live feeling and gaining wisdom from your emotions. He sent those emotions with messages and they will stay until you hear those messages and take some appropriate healthy action for those emotions. 

What tool are you going to start practicing with today?

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