Once upon a time, not so long ago, I had 40,000 unread emails. That is not an exaggeration, I had 40,000, and that number with all the zeros was one I ignored for a good while. And somewhere along the line, I read the number as 4,000 — quite fascinating how the mind alters things to cope with them. Nevertheless, as anyone with a smartphone knows, that little red notification sat just on the corner of my email app subtly shouting “40,000 unread emails!” at me whenever I looked at my phone. As a result, no matter how productive I had been, I realized that I always felt behind. Just the sight of the number would trigger a low grade, almost undetectable level of stress and it wasn’t just stress related to a growing number of messages.
I began to ponder what emails I was missing. Whose emails were going unanswered? It turned into my imagining that students who I hadn’t seen in a while, or who had dropped off from classes, had done so because somewhere along the line I had the dropped the ball.
Finally, I had had enough. I cleared out a weekend and decided to become a speed reader – of emails at least. I spent two whole days going through every single one of the 40,000 unread messages — reaching all the way back to March 2013. What started as dread slowly but surely, one email after another gave way to a clarity that I wasn’t expecting.
For example, the students that I was sure I had disconnected from due to something I did or did not do were, in actuality, students that had canceled sessions repeatedly or they had moved away. I quickly realized how, when we don’t face the challenge and look to find the truth within it, we fill in the blanks with our insecurities, self-blame, or thoughts of not having tried enough. And it’s the insecurities that ultimately need our attention. I may have been clearing out my email inbox, but what I was doing was clearing out this clutter in my mind.
Is there a big project you have been putting off that only seems to weigh heavier on you? Maybe your inbox is overflowing as mine was. Maybe your pantry is busting at the seams holding onto ingredients for a cake recipe you saw once in a magazine. Perhaps there is some debt that needs paying. Whatever it is, take a look at what holds you back from cleaning up. What is it that you’re afraid you’ll find as a result of decluttering?
Whatever it may be, I’m here to tell you that’s all in your mind. Literally. When things pile up, it isn’t the physical manifestation that overwhelms us; we shy away from the thoughts and beliefs that it triggers. But I can tell you, this only serves to further cloud your mind, your judgment, and your joy. Because on the other side of a good clean out, all that awaits is your clarity and peace of mind.
For me, I gained fresh perspectives on so many things that nagged at me. Over the years, there had been situations that I had always wondered whether or not I had handled properly. Relationship hiccups that I thought I could have responded to in better ways. These emails ended up being an affirmation for me. Getting to look back, I saw how I handled these things so much better than I thought I had. And in fact, for the most part, would have handled them the same way today.
When we clean out our things, we free ourselves up. That stuff, in both its physical and non-physical form, is blocking us. It’s taking up too much space in our homes, on our phones, and in our heads. It makes us distant and distracted, and that means we’re guarded and disconnected. When all that we are seeking is connection.
So often, we enslave ourselves in comfort, habits, and addictions and feel no urgency to change. We enslave ourselves to things that feel good, that give us a temporary energy of happiness, but it is just that: fleeting. Rav Berg reminds us that the only true happiness comes from the Creator. Our “fixes,” be it procrastination, buying things we don’t need, or gossiping, are all examples of things standing in the way of our connection with the Creator and ultimately our freedom.
Changing your consciousness begins by actively desiring and striving to be the person you one day want to be. See yourself in the future, and not just any future, in a perfect version of the future you desire. See the end game, not the minute-to-minute, day-to-day. Doing this helps us to see beyond the tasks we’re putting off and the actions we’re afraid to take. Only through this consciousness will you be able to clean up not just the areas collecting dust, but the areas collecting negativity, as well.
Today, as we observe Rosh Hashanah and we connect to the other holidays in this month, use the energy to stop and assess your endeavors. What actions or thoughts are contributing to clutter both in your life and your mind? Are you an agent of sharing and change or do you contribute to negativity and strife? Wherever your consciousness is, you and all of your energy will follow. Are you only taking in the moment or the day, or are you taking into account the perfection of the future? Stop ten, twenty, or thirty times a day and find a way to shift your consciousness. It can even be deciding to see your challenges in a new light.
Those 40,000 emails ended up being a blessing. A number that truly did a number on me. Try looking at something you’re resistant to as a blessing, an opportunity, an invitation to clear out some old thought patterns, limiting beliefs, and ways of being. You won’t be eaten alive by the clutter, and you won’t drown in the sea of unopened mail. All you’ll find on the other side is clarity, deeper awareness, and a new, liberated consciousness.
When our minds are clear, we are better able to connect fully to the Light. As we nurture this connection within ourselves, we can experience that deeper connection with everyone and everything in our lives. We aren’t able to do that when our minds are full of stress or fear, and it’s up to us to clear them out. Even if it’s just one email at a time.
THOUGHT INTO ACTION
Choose one area of your life right now that needs a good decluttering and set a date on the calendar. Clear your schedule and commit to a full clean out. Notice what you find as you begin to sift through and throw out all the things you no longer need.