3 Ways to Clear Your “Soul Clutter”

This article was written by Trina Mcneilly and published by Jesus Calling


There is a living home within you.

Whether stately and beautiful, expansive and serene, or dilapidated and in disrepair, cluttered and chaotic—it’s often hard to detect your own setting for lack of visibility.

It’s actually quite rare that someone doesn’t have what I call soul clutter—that white noise of other’s opinions, stories we tell ourselves to cope, lies we’ve believed or agreed with, unregulated emotions, or pain that has become paralyzing. It’s also quite difficult to deal with the resulting chaos because we either cannot map a way beyond the clutter or we are too afraid to journey into the thick of it.

Soul Clutter

This internal clutter takes its toll on a soul created for wide-open spaces. Soul clutter, if not addressed, can take on the form of fear, depression, anxiety, addiction, chronic stress, and even physical ailments.

Five years ago, it became very clear to me that my inner home was extremely cluttered. I was living in a constant state of overwhelm. Have you ever felt this way? As if your inner life is tight and an over active mind leaves you paralyzed? Sometimes we inch our way towards overwhelm, one thought at a time, and other times it’s heaved upon us with no warning or explanation.

Paralyzing Thoughts

Opening the door to a house or even a room full of clutter can be overwhelming. The thought of where to begin is paralyzing. The same is true when we open the door to our living homes. Where and how do we begin?

We Observe, Own, and Overcome.

I call this “uncluttering the soul.” It’s a process, which is more like a journey, led by our ever-present help, the Holy Spirit. With the Holy Spirit as our guide we can begin a journey of these three stages. First we acknowledge our clutter (Observe). Then we make space for a healthy internal environment (Own). Lastly, we begin to live clutter free from the inside out (Overcome).

1. Observe

Observing as just as it sounds: we begin by taking a good hard look at what is cluttering up the rooms of our soul.

For instance, I certainly could have told you that I was sad, scared, stressed and frustrated. Yet I didn’t know what these emotions were trying to tell me. With the help of the Holy Spirit I began to listen to the soundtrack of my soul. I started to pay attention to how my body was responding to overwhelm. It turns out fear was anxiety. And after observing a heated response to pain, I was surprised to discover that my frustration was really anger (observing will usually surprise you in one way or another).

This stage of uncluttering takes time. It’s easy to get distracted when we compare our process and progress with others. But the beautiful thing is the carpenter and Creator of your life has designed a custom plan (I like to envision a beautifully designed custom closet) just for you. He knows your needs and He sets the pace.

2. Own

Own is a petite and powerful word. We think of it terms of owning homes, stocks, cars, property and businesses.

I discovered a new meaning of the word by way of no longer owning a home. In that season I learned to own my inner home. This means that I began to own my actions, my attitudes, my behavior, and my choices.

Owning asks us to walk in the freedom that Christ has already paid for. Look at these life-changing words in Isaiah 52:2 (NIV): “Free yourself from the chains on your neck, Daughter of Zion, now a captive.” If we don’t remove the chains, if we don’t walk out of the tight spaces, we aren’t experiencing the abundant life Christ paid for. It’s not the magic wand that vanishes the chain; it’s the child of God who understands their freedom enough to slide the broken chain off. We own the opportunity to do something about all our pain, all our clutter—and the beauty is God continues to participate and is with us every step of the way.

3. Overcome

Spoiler alert—you already are an overcomer. 1 John 5:4 tells us that our faith is the victorious power that triumphs the world. When we understand who we are in Christ, we can begin to overcome what has been overwhelming us.

The other thing to know about overcoming is that it’s something that we do—it’s not an elusive arrival; it’s participation with the Spirit. We can practice overcoming by taking very practical actions. Overcoming overwhelm, for me, has looked like asking for help when I need it, moving my body and feeding it nourishing foods, pursuing peace in practical ways, and even strategizing for joy (we don’t have to wait for peace and joy, we can plan for it). When I began to, truly, realize that I was not powerless and that I did, in fact, have choices (even if the only choice in my power, at the time, was my attitude) I began to overcome.

Continue to Practice

Once you begin this journey of uncluttering your soul, you’ll find that you can observe, own and overcome in your everyday life. This process has become one that I travel through any time I’m met with overwhelm.

You are an overcomer! And you, too, can practice overcoming!

Won’t you join me in creating space for more peace and joy?

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