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4 Steps to overcome emotional hoarding

4 Steps to overcome emotional hoarding
4 Steps to overcome emotional hoarding

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to reveal 4 steps to overcome emotional hoarding.

First a quick update:

“The 2 biggest mistakes women make”
 Find out what these 2 mistakes are and how those mistakes destroy relationships & romance. Also, I reveal the best way for men to respond to these mistakes. Read my article:

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He’s not the man I fell in love with”
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Now, let’s talk about the 4 steps to overcome emotional hoarding.

In my article “Quiz – are you an emotional hoarder” I defined emotional hoarding as the act of creating severe emotional attachments to memories and past events.

“I’m an emotional hoarder. I hold on to the slightest feeling or sensation or memory for dear life even when it only makes sense to let it go. Being bombarded by thoughts of a situation or more often a person like a sudden hailstorm is annoying at best. It’s crippling at worst… I’m carrying around guilt and shame from things that happened months and in most cases years ago. I’ve apologized and atoned and asked for forgiveness from the people I hurt (most of them), but I recently realized that I hadn’t forgiven myself.” – Bassey

In the same way that the Mayo Clinic defines Hoarding disorder as “a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them” we can identify emotional hoarding disorder as the perceived need to save negative past events and memories. In some cases, people will hold onto past positive events and memories but create negative interpretations and consequences by engaging in self-pity (anger, resentment, blame, guilt, shame, etc.) because the past positive event no longer exists, it cannot be duplicated or some other crippling perception/reason.

Further, “A person with hoarding disorder experiences distress at the thought of getting rid of the items.” The same principle applies to emotional hoarding: the emotional hoarder cannot let go of the past and “experiences distress at the thought of getting rid of the items” – in this case “the items” are the negative emotions and memories.

Here are 4 steps to overcome emotional hoarding.

1. Story: What’s your story?
Everyone has a story – an explanation or description of who they are. However, many of us choose to include a story about what’s wrong with us and how we are victims. For most, “the story” is an excuse or a series of excuses about why we can’t be, do or have what we want. In other words, the story is our block and obstacle to enjoying life. “The story” is always set in the past or begins in the past and infects the present moment; “the story” is always about “victimhood.”

It’s quite easy to become addicted to our story and to use it as a way to prevent us from fully experiencing life.

Emotional hoarders are addicted to their story.

Are you addicted to who you were or whom you think you are or were supposed to be?

What is the story that you need to let go of?

How does the story benefit you i.e. in what way is it keeping you safe (even if it is strangling the life out of you)? In what way is your story keeping you in your comfort zone?

Are you this person: “My room at my mother’s house is still exactly as it was when I moved out. I won’t let her throw away anything because I “NEED THE MEMORIES”.”

What about the memories do you believe you actually need?

Do you have “the deep-seated need to mentally regurgitate every shameful event or poor decision and re-live it over and over again in as much nauseating, painful detail as possible”?

How is the mental regurgitation benefiting you and how is it hindering you? Be completely open and forthcoming with yourself and you will see why you have been holding on and hoarding your story.

“I want you to be everything that’s you, deep at the center of your being.” – Confucius (Chinese philosopher 551-479 BC)

Key focus: Create new story; take new action.

2. The Person: To whom did you chain yourself?
Who is the person whom you are holding onto? Whom are you emotionally hoarding?

That person might be a past you – a former self-image of a young, thin, rich, beautiful, powerful you.

Or that person might be someone whom you believe should still be in your life and, you believe he/she should be acting a certain way.

List and describe the ways that holding onto (emotionally hoarding) this person are benefiting you and list and describe the ways that emotionally hoarding this person are hindering you.

Key focus: Acceptance.

3. Forgiveness: It’s for you
“Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” – Confucius (Chinese philosopher 551-479 BC)

A lack of forgiveness is a poison! It fills us with hate, revenge, blame, bitterness, anger, resentment and so forth. And yes, all of those emotions translate to physical illness as well.

What action and behavior do you need to forgive?

Whom do you need to forgive?

Maybe you’re afraid to forgive because that means you would have to do something different now. Has the lack of forgiveness been a key part of your “story” – your excuse for not living life?

Forgiveness is giving understanding for what happened. Forgiving the other person (or yourself) sets you free. Forgiveness is for you! Stop carrying the heavy weight of that person (the lack of forgiveness) on your shoulders and back. It’s crippling you not him or her!

Key focus: Forgive the unforgivable

4. Behavior: Shaking it off
I teach my clients: You are allowed to feel whatever you feel. You are allowed to think whatever you think. For how long do you wish to feel this feeling? Would you prefer to feel something else? For how long do you wish to think this way or would you prefer to think something else?

Observe your thoughts and notice that they are thoughts; distance yourself from those thoughts, and that way they will have less power over you. Beware of the Ten Twisted forms of Thinking.

When something goes wrong, take action to remedy the situation rather than hiding, brooding or ruminating. If you fail to take action, you begin to hoard emotions and thoughts, even if you think you are not doing so or you are denying the reality.

Key focus: Emotional Intelligence and take action to correct the challenge; act in spite of fear. (Read my article “Eat that frog – end that fear!”)

Remember, you can book a session with me for help and to overcome emotional hoarding.

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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