By Sandra Domingos
You can work all day long and feel like you accomplished very little. It can be frustrating right? Aside from simply being aggravating, it turns out that the stress which clutter promotes can lead to a host of physical and mental health issues. It all has to do with how your brain reacts to the clutter around you.
Researchers at Yale University have discovered that 2 different pain-related areas of your brain go crazy when you give up some item or object that you have developed a sense of connection with. Those areas are the anterior cingulate cortex and insular cortex (insula).
Your anterior cingulate cortex sends off warning signals when your hot chocolate is too hot or you experience some other type of physical pain. Remarkably, when you give away or sacrifice a possession or item to which you are attached, this part of your brain reacts in the same way. When you are heavily invested emotionally or financially, the feeling of loss is accelerated.
Your insula is related with pain, how you empathize with others, and your awareness of your own emotional state. This area of your brain also reacts as if you have received some emotional or physical pain when you let go of a possession which has some type of personal value.
This hardwired response to giving away possessions is what makes defeating clutter so difficult for some folks. Usually, the way your brain responds to give up an object only triggers a physical pain response if that object meant a lot to you. However, in some people it is difficult to part with something as simple as an old newspaper.
How can you use this information to your advantage if you are trying to declutter your life? Understand that those painful emotions you are experiencing when you are contemplating giving up some item or object are natural. Give them their due. Understand what they are trigger reactions which happen to everyone.
Then, instead of surrendering to them, take control. If the best thing for you is to let go of a particular item, then do so. Look at your situation logically and objectively. Your brain is automatically reacting to the thought of “losing” something. However, that same brain craves order and discipline, which are 2 of the many rewards of an uncluttered life.
*Sandra Domingos is a certified yoga teacher and life couch. She lives between Itararé, Bahia (Brazil) and Los Angeles, California, and when she is not in one of these two cities is because she is traveling around the world. Sandra have been in 4 continents and visited more than 50 countries.