Compassionately clearing the heart’s clutter

February 22, 2011

New Zealand.

Just reading off the headlines make me think of the millions of people experiencing loss, pain, uncertainty and fear right now.

If you’re like me, you probably vacillate between feeling deep concern and helpless distraction. I lean toward worry in the face of confusion, and I’ve noticed that my thoughts about all these events have been cluttered. My feelings have been messy.

If your worries are more domestic — focused on home, work, or loved ones– you may find that you experience the same kinds of feelings and lack of focus. Distraction.

Any time you add clutter and disorganization to the mix, thoughts and feelings are less focused. Sometimes it feels like a constant buzzing in your head and heart.

Focusing that buzzy energy

Allowing overwhelm to persist prevents you from bring the gifts you have to those who need them. No matter what’s troubling you, let me gently encourage you to focus on what you can do.

Think about the smallest do-able thing:

  • Clear off a space on your desk
  • Journal about your feelings
  • Share your thoughts with someone with a compassionate ear
  • Offer support to someone affected by local or world events.
  • Consciously limit how informed you are (what Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan calls a media diet)
  • Write a check to support organizations who provide aid.

The other super-helpful declutterer of thoughts and feelings

Hand it over. Write or recite a list of all the things that concern you at the moment under the title: “I am releasing to the Universe…” I do this weekly and it lightens my load tremendously. There’s no way I can carry it all. Consciously releasing your attachment to big, overwhelming stuff allows life to use that energy for something better.

Time and time again, choosing to hand it over to the Universe, to God, to that Something Bigger then Me creates peace and amazing resolutions I never dreamed possible. The act of letting go — on purpose — resolves the issues I was stuck to. If you want to read more about how to do it, my much-loved article about Grape-Scented Markers is here.

Suffice it to say, you don’t have to carry it all.

And not to belabor the point, but while the very process described here works with feelings, it also works with any distracting object (or collection of objects) in your space.

  • Notice overwhelm and distraction
  • Remember what’s important
  • Focus on what you can do
  • Release the rest

Sometimes doing these steps with your physical space makes room to then work with the feelings inside.

No matter what’s on your mind and heart, know that you’re not alone. It’s okay to make space inside of you for whatever troubles you. In the end, the people you love benefit, your work benefits, and the resulting peacefulness radiates through the circles of connection to the places that need it most.


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jennifer Louden, Susan Johnstone. Susan Johnstone said: What a day for the world. What a year. a helpful way to clear the inner decks when there's just too much happening […]

  2. What a timely reminder. I’m encouraged, excited, depressed, scared and concerned about what’s going on in the world today. I can’t do anything about most of it, but I can do something about my own environment and I’m going to get off the computer (after posting this!) and start with a corner of my desk! Thanks, Jennifer!

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