Have you ever filled the trash can past its limits? The lid won’t shut anymore, you can plainly see it needs to be dumped but you keep pushing and pushing to fit more in. Why?

There’s a myriad of reasons:
Sometimes we’re too busy.
Sometimes we are lazy.
Sometimes we are too distracted to realize it is full.

We stuff until we cannot pack another piece in. Then comes the next part of the struggle: how the hell do you get all this trash out again?!

You’ve got one foot on the ground, the other on the trashcan, you’re pulling for all you’re worth and all you can think is “why on earth did I let it get this full? Why didn’t I stop when I saw it starting to fill up? Why didn’t I stop when the lid wouldn’t shut anymore?” Trash is everywhere, you’re sweaty and frustrated, and you still have to drag the mess outside to dispose of it all. Sound familiar? That’s where I’m at in my life right now.

I never saw myself as the kind who slapped a good face on things and kept going. I always thought I took charge of things and managed them well. So imagine my shock when, during a couple’s coaching session with my spouse I broke down and started crying. It wasn’t just the frustration of the moment. It was a few year’s worth of frustrating moments: we had experienced job loss, loss of a home, fighting with our families, fighting with each other, new health diagnoses for both of us, loss of friendships and of course, the general baggage one acquires over a lifetime of having an untreated disorder. The guilt, the shame, the unmet expectations. I began to sob openly as we discussed our frustrations and I realized that I hadn’t let myself cry or grieve ANY of these things.

This is where I have to pause and be thankful that we had the good fortune and wisdom to know when we needed help, and the ability to acquire that help. Our coaches, Carolyn D’Argenio of Uniquely U Coaching, and See in ADHD‘s Jennie Friedman have been amazing supports and invaluable resources for us. These ladies got real with us really quickly. It was suggested I go to therapy, and with reluctance I went.

Now, quiet as its kept, I’m not the easiest person to coach. I have an idea of the way things should be and sometimes you cannot shake it out of my stubborn head. Enter Carolyn. She’s not intimidated by the likes of me, and what’s more, she’s not afraid to burst my bubble or piss me off if it means she is helping me heal in the end. Sometimes dealing with me is like dealing with a kid with a splinter in his foot. He’s screaming and flailing like a fool rather than just letting you pull it. (Carolyn, thank you for always being there with the tweezers when I’m too stubborn to get on board, I love you.)

What can we do to prevent this overflow from happening, and take the trash out? Here are a few suggestions that have worked for me so far:

1. Find a willing set of ears – In fact, find more than one. Talk your way through these feelings you are trying to stuff. Remember, they are there for a reason, and they are not going anywhere until you address them.

2. Confront the problem head on – What are you afraid of? Once I was afraid that if I started writing I wouldn’t find anyone who would read it; yet here you are (at least I hope you made it down this far). Don’t be afraid to prove yourself wrong.

3. Write – Some thoughts are too tender to articulate out loud. I’m not saying you have to start a blog, but maybe you should. If these feelings are too delicate to share with the public, journal. If you don’t enjoy writing, record yourself in the car. Or maybe just talk out loud to yourself, just don’t let anyone else catch you.

4. As you clear the negative space, establish healthy new habits – Have you ever de-cluttered, only to fill the same space with even more useless junk? I’m over here raising my hand with you; I am SO guilty of this. Don’t do that to yourself emotionally. Find new ways to deal with your problems so you don’t become overwhelmed like this again. Know how to track when things are heading in the wrong direction – I use selfies ( Self-Care Selfies).   You know when you are off your game, don’t ignore that feeling. That is how we get overwhelmed to begin with.

5, Above all, be gentle with yourself. We as a society glorify tough love and hard work. Obviously, we are not exactly reaping the benefits emotionally. We are overworked, underpaid, and less satisfied with the work we are doing than ever before. I lay some of this chronic unhappiness at society’s door. But we also have to own our recovery as individuals. Just because something is popular doesn’t make it effective. Learn to respect your emotions and your physical body.

These are just a few of the tactics we can use to begin cleaning the garbage out of our lives and keeping it out. Have you ever faced a situation that left you feeling stuffed? Tell us about it in the comments!

Until next time,

René

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