031 Tears, Tantrums, and Transformations: The Emotional Journey

episode 031, emotional journey of decluttering

Today’s episode, we’re diving deep into a topic that often gets overlooked: the emotional rollercoaster of decluttering. Now, many of you listeners are familiar with the physical aspects – sorting, donating, throwing things away. But have you ever stopped to consider the emotional upheaval that will come with letting go?

I especially want to talk to those of you who’ve gone through major life changes. Maybe you’re in your 40s or 50s, a time of transition for many women. Your kids might be grown and flown the coop, maybe you’ve experienced a divorce or career shift, or maybe that unexpected new born baby. These big events can trigger a natural desire to declutter your physical space, and that’s fantastic! But what happens when you start digging through those boxes and drawers and all of a sudden, you’re faced with a wave of emotions you weren’t expecting?

Let’s talk about my own decluttering journey. 

When I first started, it was all about creating a more organized space. I was tired of feeling overwhelmed by not knowing where things were, and I knew I needed a change. But what I didn’t anticipate was how emotionally charged the process would be. Picking up a dusty photo album could bring back a flood of memories, some joyful, some heartbreaking. Holding onto an old piece of clothing might trigger feelings of nostalgia for a time that’s long gone. It was like all the emotions I’d tucked away were suddenly bubbling up to the surface!

Now, some of these emotions might not be the most pleasant ones. You might find yourself feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, maybe even angry at yourself for holding onto things for so long. Tears are absolutely normal, and let’s be honest, sometimes a good decluttering session calls for a full-on cry or even a good scream into a pillow to release all that pent up energy!

Emotions are energy in motion

I absolutely think it’s important to allow ourselves to experience the emotions no matter the form they show up in! Emotions are energy in motion. When you suppress them, they can build up and eventually lead to bigger problems;  depression, anxiety, substance abuse, self-harm, etc. But by allowing yourself to feel them fully, you can start to process them and let go. So, the next time you find yourself getting emotional during decluttering, don’t try to shut those feelings down. Embrace them, let them out – that scream into a pillow might be just what you need! Or smashing that old dish against the brick wall, in a safe way, of course! There’s a reason things like “A Rage Room” exist….sometimes, it’s not a cry you need. It’s being able to break stuff in a safe manner.

But the good news is, the emotional journey of decluttering isn’t all doom and gloom. There’s also a tremendous sense of liberation that comes with letting go. As you clear out the physical clutter, you’re also clearing out emotional baggage. You might feel lighter, freer, and more in control of your life. It can be like a weight lifted off your shoulders, both literally and figuratively.

My own emotional release during a Full Moon burn.

Unexpected emotional energy release

For example, one time I came across a box of old journals from my early 30’s. Reading them brought back a lot of insecurities and challenges from that time in my life; I was newly divorced, no longer living with my children 24/7, being fired for the first time in my life, and much much more. But as I read through those entries, I realized how much I’d grown and overcome. It allowed me to appreciate the woman I am today. In fact, I’m living the goals my 2017 version of me dreamed of! Ultimately, letting go of those journals was a powerful symbol of letting go of my younger self’s struggles and embracing who I am now.

I just did a full moon burn this past weekend of journal entries I made from 2019-2022, and hoooooooly did it burn (see above photo). Those old journal entries had some serious energy that needed to be released. Actually, this was the first time I’ve had to use the water jug I always keep beside me for safety reasons. 

Here’s the key takeaway 

Decluttering is not just about physical space; it’s about creating space for the new version of yourself. The woman you are now is likely different from the woman you were last year, let alone ten or twenty years ago. Her dreams, goals, and desires have evolved. When you declutter, you’re making room for this new version of you to flourish.

Are there any tips I can share for navigating the emotional ups and downs of decluttering?

Absolutely! Here are a few tips to help you navigate the emotional rollercoaster:

  • Be gentle with yourself: I’ve said it time and time again, decluttering is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t expect to declutter your entire home in a weekend. Take it one step at a time, and don’t be afraid to take breaks when you need them. And if you are that type-A woman that only has so much time and is determined to declutter the house in a weekend, well, expect those emotions to come out just as quickly.
  • Allow yourself to feel your emotions: Don’t try to suppress your tears, tantrums, anger, or bursts of frustration. Acknowledge your feelings, and then let them go. Maybe take a few deep breaths, step outside for some fresh air, put bare feet on the grass, or do whatever helps you process the emotions in a healthy way.
  • Focus on the positive: Decluttering isn’t just about letting go; it’s also about creating something new. As you declutter, visualize the space you want to create, the business you are wanting to build, the feeling you want to evoke, etc. This can be a powerful motivator and help you stay focused on the end goal.
  • Celebrate your progress: Decluttering can be a challenging process, so don’t forget to celebrate your wins, big and small. Did you finally tackle that overflowing junk drawer? Did you finally donate that bag of clothes you’ve been driving around for weeks? Acknowledge these accomplishments and be proud of yourself!
  • Seek support: Decluttering doesn’t have to be a solo mission. Actually, I recommend you never declutter alone. Reach out to a friend or family member who can offer support and encouragement. There are also online communities dedicated to decluttering (hint hint: Declutter For CHANGE Comminuty) where you can connect with others who understand the challenges and triumphs of the process.

Now, let’s address the “embrace the chaos” stage I mentioned earlier. It’s completely natural to feel overwhelmed when you’re starting to declutter. You might be staring at a mountain of stuff, unsure where to even begin. The good news is, that chaos is a sign of progress!

Why is the “chaos” stage actually a good thing?

Think of it like this: when you’re renovating a house, it’s messy before it’s beautiful. The same goes for decluttering. You have to pull everything out, assess the situation, and figure out what needs to stay and what needs to go. So, embrace the chaos! It’s a temporary state, and it’s a necessary step on the path to a more organized and peaceful life.

Here are some tips for navigating the “chaos” stage:

  • Start small: Don’t try to tackle your entire house at once. Pick one drawer, one shelf, or even one corner to declutter. This will help you feel more manageable and prevent you from getting overwhelmed.
  • Set realistic goals: Don’t aim to declutter your entire home in a weekend. Set small, achievable goals for yourself, and celebrate your accomplishments along the way.
  • Set aside dedicated decluttering time: Schedule specific times in your week to declutter. This will help you stay focused and make progress. Schedule it or forget it!
  • Focus on one category at a time: Maybe you start with clothes, then move on to books, then kitchen gadgets. This can make the process feel less daunting.


Here’s the thing: The “embrace the chaos” stage is where the real transformation happens. As you declutter, you’re not just getting rid of stuff; you’re making space for the new version of yourself. It might be a new career path, a new relationship, or simply a renewed sense of peace in your own home.

So, embrace the tears, the tantrums, and the chaos. They’re all part of the incredible journey of decluttering and creating the life you truly deserve.

Episode Timestamps

[1:20] ..Gone through major life changes.

[2:01] It was like the emotions I tucked away were suddenly bubbling up to the surface.

[4:18] Those old journal entries that had some serious energy that needed to be released!

[6:23] I recommend you never declutter alone.

Resources Mentioned in this Episode

Declutter for CHANGE Community

BYOC Waitlist

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Heather Clark declutter expert

Heather Clark, Declutter Expert

Helping you navigate the change by decluttering your MIND | BODY | SOUL | HOME.

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