Yesterday we talked about the toll that physical clutter can take on you. The emotional incompletes are more challenging. You may be able to take action— make a call, send a card, write a letter—that eliminates some of them. But some may be situations that make you feel sad or regretful and have no easy resolution. For example, you might regret that you never had the chance to say ‘I love you’ to a person before they passed on. You may have had a disagreement with someone and now have no contact with them and can’t resolve it. You may still feel the pain of a lost love and still hold the hope that it can be revived. If you can take some action to resolve the issue, do it now. But do it with the intention of ending the emotional energy drain, not to resuscitate it so that it can continue to consume you.
Some situations just need to be declared dead so that you can bury them and move on. Sometimes we just want to have the last word, ask why something happened, get some reason so that we can understand. But sometimes situations don’t have such a clean ending and we have to choose between holding on to it and brooding or freeing ourselves from bondage to it. You may have heard the analogy that holding a resentment is like letting someone live in your head rent-free. Time to evict those bad tenants.
I find that a ritual can be helpful in purging those emotional and mental demons. My favourite is to write out a list of the thoughts, regrets, resentments, and outdated self-perceptions that are holding you back and then burn it. As you burn it, say a little prayer of gratitude for the lessons that the experience brought you and then let go. It may not be instantaneous, but you’ve set the emotional incompletes free and you can allow them to move out of your life.
Occasionally you may find a lesson in the process. Once I was leading one of my New Years workshops and as part of the clearing process, we wrote out all the things that were holding us back and went outside to burn them. That year I had developed a lingering sore throat and cold in the summer and it had lasted for half a year. By winter I was really feeling wimpy and sickly. I was starting to think of myself as one of those Victorian ladies who are lifetime invalids. So one of the things on my list was my self-perception as a ‘sick person’.
It was a bitter cold day and, because we were just outside an office building, the best we could do was to use a small coffee can and burn the papers in the can. Usually I like to have a roaring bonfire and take our time, enjoying the process, but in this case, we didn’t have that option. So we had to go one at a time, making a statement about releasing it to the universe, and then burning the paper in the can.
When it was my turn, the paper wouldn’t burn. No matter how we tried, my paper wouldn’t burn. We were all a little freaked out. People were saying, “Jackie, what does that mean? Why isn’t it burning?” I didn’t know and I was upset by it too. I ended up tearing it into little pieces but I still felt a little doomed. Right after New Years I suddenly got pneumonia and had to go to the doctor and take antibiotics and take some time off. After that I was fine—no more sore throat or lingering cold. No more self-perception of myself as a ‘sickly person’. Perhaps I needed to be forced into taking a time out.
If you let it, clearing can become a long term process; an excuse that prevents you from moving on. Don’t wait till all your clutter is gone before you move on to the next step. Don’t put off visualizing your ideal day until your emotional baggage is all gone. When you do that, you have just allowed clearing to become another one of the things that are holding you back. Clearing will be an ongoing process, start it, keep on top of it but continue moving ahead into your future
Spend some time reflecting on the emotional and mental incompletes— words left unsaid, unhealthy self-perceptions, relationships that feel unfinished, regrets and resentments. Here are a few suggestions. Do you have any other ideas?
- Write letters but don’t send them.
- Make a list of what you need to let go.
- Create a ritual so that you can release it all to the universe, let it go and forgive yourself and the others involved.