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Phylameana lila Desy

Stop Collecting and Chewing on Hurtful Words

By February 8, 2013

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February 8, 2013 - Power of Words - Clearing your home of your material stuff and letting go of emotional gunk are processes of healing and freeing your emotional body of hurt. Wouldn't it be better to stop the pattern of collecting and holding on to stuff and end that continuous loop of tiresome activity.

Collecting, then purging, collecting more, and then purging again. Clearing clutter is a vicious cycle to be caught up in. This post is not about learning to let go as much as it is an urge for you to break any habits you may have of taking in and holding on to the hurtful stuff in the first place.

I am not a collector of things, not in the normal sense. My husband has the mentality of a collector with a passion for possessing certain things. He told me once that as much as he enjoys his collections, his real joy comes for him in the getting rather than the having. He is right, I have watched his behavior whenever a new package is delivered to our doorstep. He happily brings an anticipated carton inside the house. But unlike me, he doesn't rip into the box right away. He lets the unopened package sit in our foyer for a day or two. He knows what is inside and is savoring the unveiling of a new treasure. I've known him to wait weeks to open up a package. And when he does finally open it, he keeps the box it came in. Well, that was his old way, last Fall he finally cleared our attic from years of his collecting empty cartons. We are both working at clearing clutter from our lives.

Are You a Collector of Hurtful Words?

I don't collect things but I do have a pattern of hanging on to some stuff. Not tangible things, but emotional things. Words for example. I will carry words around with me for days sometimes. I hang onto words spoken to me and also berate myself for words I wish I hadn't said out loud. I'll even rehash in my mind the "better words" I didn't say I wished I had spoken after an opportunity to have said them has lapsed. Crazy, this waste-of-time habit I have.

My new mantra:

Hurtful words die and wither away naturally. I absorb and nourish only empowering words.

Let's face it, people will say hurtful things. Sometimes on purpose, but most times hurtful words are uttered unintentionally. Even when I know that something said was not intentioned as a poison dart aimed at me, I still stew. I will feel judged, misunderstood, or under appreciated. But the truth is, it doesn't matter. We cannot change how someone else views us. That's on them. We cannot put a muzzle on anyone even if we'd like to.

This past week someone asked me for advice on how she might respond to something tactless (and hurtful!) a relative had said to her. My sage advice was "Do nothing, Say nothing, Let it go! Some people are button-pushers and thrive on getting reactions out of us. If that was her purpose for saying what she did, do you really want to give her what she wants? Let it go!" Good advice, right?

Afterwards, I realized that I was too had been hanging on to words someone had said to me two days earlier. These words were stabbing. Although the person had been thoughtless in her words, they were not said purposely to hurt me. My intelligent mind realizes that I too have said things thoughtlessly and have likely unknowingly hurt someone with my words. It happens. No way would I want to retaliate or confront anyone when I know in my heart that no harm was intended. I don't identify with being a grudge holder either. Still, I had been digesting these words over and over again, both in my mind, and in my emotional body. I think I am a rational person and will do my best not to get involved in confrontations with others. But, I am awakening to the realization that internalizing dialogs over and over inside my head is not serving me either. Let it Go Already Phylameana!

If I had not taken in those words, hung on to them, and allowed them to stew I would not be struggling days later needing to process them and eventually haul them out to the curb for garbage pick up. This pattern I have of recycling upsetting words has got to end. In doing so I am giving ridiculous words power over me. Not only am I ready to rid myself of any "not-nice-words" I have been carrying around with me, but I'm going to challenge myself to stop collecting wounding words in the future. Instead of unpacking that carton filled with hurtful words and inviting them into my psyche to muck with me, I will kick it to the curb immediately.

Focus Friday - This post is part of a once-weekly blog feature focusing on a singular healing topic. If you would like to get notifications delivered to your inbox each Friday alerting you to the Focus Friday topic please subscribe to my newsletter. In addition to the Friday delivery subscribers also receive my standard newsletter sent on Tuesday mornings. The Tuesday edition highlights new articles, newest blog posts, and includes links to a variety of healing topics.

April 9, 2006 at 1:35 pm
(1) elizabet says:

Totally agree with these comments – there is nothing more destructive than holding onto to rubbish, whether physical or psychological. As a crystal healer I believe that this issue is one of the most prominent causes of ill-health in today’s world!
The 21st century pace actually compounds this problem – when do we have time to “work through” any issues?
Make time is my answer as this rubbish can KILL!

April 11, 2007 at 7:51 pm
(2) Ollin says:

As other times, sincronized :)
I will be moving very soon to another place and is a good time to see what goes and what stays…not that i collect junk or something, but indeed, is good to free ourselves of stuff to let new things come in :)

April 12, 2007 at 12:09 pm
(3) Phylameana lila Desy says:

For years I’ve been trying to trick myself into believing I’m moving whenever I clean out a closet or rummage through boxes in our attic. We aren’t planning on moving at all, but as I’m sorting through stuff I ask myself “Would you bother to pack this up and cart it halfway cross the continent” if the answer is no, I toss it…. well, I ususally toss it. Once in a while my frugal upbringing voice will override the trickster mind with “but, what if ….” and I end up hanging on to a thing I might (big might) need in the future.

April 13, 2007 at 5:18 pm
(4) Ollin says:

I understand what you mean with the “what if…”, as an Art student is very tempting to collect all kind of materials to work with them “later”…and sometimes on the streets you can find great stuff, but i try to resist the temptation to not put someone else’s junk in my place, only if its very unique and i am really intending to use it for my assignments …

May 22, 2008 at 12:34 pm
(5) Brenda says:

I wanted to say I enjoyed your article/letting go Course: Clearing the Clutter!

I’ve always had too much junk and after several moves, a few cross country, I finally started letting go. For 6 years we lived out of boxes and our home always had boxes in the corners as part of the decoration. I hated looking at it! It definitely cluttered up my emotional state!

We moved to a home in the country, which is as close to my dream home as I could get, and I slowly started to make up a couple of rooms set up without the requisite boxes in them. My husband is a packrat, more so than me, so it makes it hard to clear stuff out, especially the dining room. But I persevered little by little.

After the stillborn loss of my last baby, my husband started throwing stuff and clearing stuff out as part of his grief process. After I was well on my way from healing from the surgery, he had finally gotten enough of the junk cleared so I could start removing boxes, clearing out bins and actually getting all our living space looking like a home instead of a warehouse! When I was finished, the weight off of my emotional shoulders was tremendous! Not only did the work help relieve the grief, but it made my feel so light hearted I was finally happy to come downstairs in the morning and get started on the day! A week later we had company and I was so proud to serve them in our now nicely set up dining room.

I still have things to declutter, but it’s a process. I’ve found if I’m not in the mood to do so, I don’t get rid of things as easily. I really like your idea of having boxes for each child to keep their special memories in! I’m going to get that in motion as soon as I can clear a couple of totes to use!

Thank you for writing the article! It was an affirming piece to read after all I have done and for all I am going to continue to do!

May 22, 2008 at 12:38 pm
(6) Phylameana says:

Dear Brenda,

I’m sorry for your loss. But, I’m so glad that you and your husband have found “decluttering” as a helpful therapy in your grief process. Clearing clutter is definitely a motion that heals. May your healing journey continue and make you stronger and happier.


February 8, 2013 at 3:37 pm
(7) Jose Martinez says:

I had to “DE-CLUTTER” people form my life and I am much better for it.

February 8, 2013 at 4:37 pm
(8) juliette says:


February 8, 2013 at 4:39 pm
(9) Kate in RI says:

This article was extremely timely for me. Yesterday I received some brutal, cruel words from my adult daughter who has made a habit of verbal abusing my husband and I when things do not go her way in life. After 35 years of this treatment I have had enough and will not tolerate this behavior any longer. Thank you for articulating what I knew I had to do.

February 8, 2013 at 6:53 pm
(10) Terrrie says:

Any advise on how to let go of words that you yourself said, that in hindsight were, wrong, hurtful, ignorant, or just plain stupid? I can remember things I said 20 years ago that still make me cringe for having said them.

February 8, 2013 at 11:38 pm
(11) Phylameana says:


Wow, twenty years is long time to be holding on to regrets. Give yourself a break, everyone makes mistakes. I actually do have some advice for you — in the form of an article I wrote. How to Live Your Life Without Regrets

Chin up, and put those cringes to rest.

February 8, 2013 at 11:46 pm
(12) Phylameana says:


I’m sorry about the pain your daughter has been subjecting you to. I am glad my words have helped at the moment you needed to hear them. Words can be healing too!

Blessings to you.

February 9, 2013 at 4:24 pm
(13) Terrie says:

Thanks for the article. I’ve printed it, and am going to tape it to the bathroom mirror for a while.

Having those things pop into my mind at random moments keeps reminding me to think about what I say before I say it, because those things I said long ago were not only hurtful to someone else, but showed a level of immaturity that I should have been long past.

I can’t apologize to the person for what I said, but perhaps I can perform a small ritual of apology and send it out into the universe with the intention of it finding that person – where ever they may now be.

You’re right – it’s time to make what amends I can, and let it go, forgive myself, and take the lesson with me into the future.

Thanks, again.

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