Get Over Emotional Hoarding

Five ways to get rid of grudges and free your mind of mental clutter

Holding a grudge or hanging onto resentments or other negative feelings can suck up a huge amount of emotional energy and time. While the target of those bad thoughts is often blithely unaware of the issue, living carefree, you're being weighed down by the intense feelings. Need help getting rid of a grudge that lives large in your mind? These tips can help:

1. Recognize there's a problem. Most people aren’t even aware they are emotionally hoarding (or holding onto negative feelings). Because the phenomenon takes place in your mind, it can be difficult to see that the grudge you're carrying is taking up so much space in your thoughts. But you can't get rid of it until you recognize it. Try taking our quiz to see if you might have emotional hoarding tendencies.

2. Make a choice to change. Change is hard and takes a lot of effort, so you have to actually decide you want to work on it. The good news: The work is well worth it. It will free you up and make life much more enjoyable.

3. Go from being driven to being the driver. Most people who are hoarding negative emotions feel terrible because they see themselves as the helpless victim of their circumstances. Their self view is that people keep doing things to them and there is nothing they can do about it. In other words, they are being driven around through life. But in reality, we all have some choices. For instance, if another person does do something terrible to you, you can choose to forgive them and you can choose to move on with or without them in your life. Take a more active role in seeing which choices are available to you and how you wish to proceed. Think about how you can help yourself given the circumstances. In this way, you will feel more empowered by taking the driver’s seat.

4. Be in the moment. People who carry a grudge tend to spend all their time thinking about the upsetting event that happened in the past, and imagining what might happen to them in the future. They also spend time thinking of revenge scenarios. As a result, emotional hoarders rarely enjoy the current moment. Work on being present in the moment and focus on the little things that you enjoy and feel grateful for. Is the sun shining? Does the grass look green against the blue sky? Is your spouse being funny or is there a song you like playing on the radio? By using the pleasures of now, you can stop ruminating over the past and future. Meditation, as well as classes on mindfulness, can be very helpful too.

5. Get treatment. If anger, sadness, frustration and anxiety are taking up most of your day, then you may need some help. Sometimes you need an objective professional to help you see the repetitive patterns of thinking and behavior that are not working for you, so you can change them. Feeling like a perpetual victim can also lead to depression. True depression requires treatment, and it’s usually responsive to it. Talk therapy by a well-trained psychotherapist can make all the difference.

What’s the longest grudge you’ve ever held? Chime in below!

Like This? Read These:
- Quiz: Are You An Emotional Hoarder?
- Are My Moods Normal?
- 5 Ways to Get a Grip on Your Mental Health

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