Yesterday as I began to prepare dinner I opened my trashcontainer in the kitchen and was shocked to see that the bin was full,again. My immediate thought, “how manytimes do I have to empty this stupid trash?” Then I thought, “Where does all the trash come from?” With no children at home it is just myhusband and I but we still have tons of trash every day. The trash seems to multiple on its own. If we become distracted and forget to removeit, it will take over our lives.
When I am working with clients in my practice, I see theirmental and emotional trash bins get fuller every day. I have been thinking about this problem andwondering what we can do to combat the burden of trash in our lives.
You know that if you have assign the task of taken out thetrash in your home to someone else, especially children; sometimes you have toconstantly remind them to take the trash out. If it isn’t taken out in begins to pile up. It smells, it is unsanitary, frustrating, annoying,depressing, distracting and clutters your home. There are some people who take the trash and begin to feel that it ispart of them. They incorporate it intotheir identity, fill a void in themselves and hoard the trash. They see the trash as a security blanket, anarmor and comfort for the other issues or disorders that they suffer with. The trash becomes their way of self-soothing,self-medicating and numbing their feelings.
We can have mental and emotional trash accumulate in ourlives and handle it the same way as a hoarder does with actual items oftrash. The mental garage that we havecollected from the past has an impact on her experiences today. It disturbs our thinking, it has a bad odor,it distracts us from our lives, our future, from seeing the positive events ofour lives and it is depressing and destructive to relationships, our health, andour happiness. It can define us.
Furthermore, if we hold on to the garbage of our past foreven a day it begins to multiply and grow on its own. We become distracted by the many obligationsand responsibilities of life and the trash that has begun to accumulate in ourmental trash bin get ignored. Trashbreeds trash. Just as seeds of doubtgrow, the garbage that we collect feeds itself on more emotional and mentaltrash. Eventually, after we have ignoredit we see this garbage as becomes part of the scenery of our lives. We no longer realize the impact of this heavyburden on our everyday emotional state.
A client that comes into session with issues of spousalabuse will report that they were physically abuse in a previous relationshipwhether with a parent, an ex or a stranger. Their trash bin is full of self-hate, failure, guilt, shame, anger,doubt, pain, depression and they are victims of their own garbage.
In the same sense that hoarders see the actual clutter intheir environment as a comfort or defensive armor; when we hold on to themental and emotion trash of life we become to addicted to the distractivebehavior that is manifested by the garbage in our lives. We do what we know and we know the garbageand the destructive behaviors of our past.
I have had so many clients who presented to therapy withproblems with anger, overeating, addiction, conflict in the relationships,anxiety, depression and many other issues who will tell me that the garbage ofthe past does not have anything to do with their presenting issue. Hoarders will fight anyone who tries toremove or even touch their stuff. Theybecome terribly upset, fearful and panic when they are confronted about theeffect that their environment has on their health and safety. They do not believe that they have a problemand will deny that their homes are out of control. Similarly, clients will deny that the garbagethat they are hoarding is a problem. They truly cannot see the clutter. Clients will become angry withme, defend their feelings and refuse to acknowledge that their mental andemotional garbage is having an effect on their relationships with others, theirhealth or their safety.
When you get the hoarder to recognize that the clutter is aproblem, which takes time, patience and experts many hours of work; this isonly the first. However, it is the majorstep to recovery. In treatment with myclients, getting the client to see the impact of the garbage collection of thepast is a major step forward and it also takes time. Once the client reaches this point, thehealing begins and the trash gets taken out.
If you have symptoms of anger, depression, shame, grief,guilt, addiction, conflict, sadness, feeling of self-hatred, fear, anxiety,doubt or just want to improve the quality of your life and your impact onothers call today for a free consultation.