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Dr. Amanda Mulfinger is the Owner and President of Cabot Psychological Services in Edina, Minnesota. She studied psychology at Harvard University prior to receiving her master's degree and PhD from Auburn University.


Read other articles from D​r. Mulfinger

Not long ago, I had one of the busier weekends in my recent life, and I realized on Sunday evening that it was also one of the better weekends in my recent life. Not because I did something wild and crazy, or traveled somewhere exotic, or ate unbelievable food at a cool, hip restaurant. No, I was feeling amazing on Sunday night because I had 14 bags of “usable household goods and clothing” packed up in my car, ready to drop off at Goodwill.

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My friend has recently been turned on to the trending book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” by Marie Kondo, and after she gave me the Cliff’s notes version, my husband and I were motivated to start clearing out the items in our house that were failing to bring us joy. Click here for an effective web-based

abridged version.


We started with T-shirts (per my friend’s, and the author’s, suggestion), and dutifully gathered shirts from every corner of our home. The first thing of note that happened was that my husband found a bin of summer shirts that he had put away TWO winters ago. In the interim, we had gone shopping because “I don’t have any summer shirts…” From there, we had to decide whether each shirt brought him (or me) joy, and if it didn’t, into the bag it went (after thanking it for its service).

Decluttering Your Life

After that, we were unstoppable. We did my t-shirts, and then both of our closets, moved on to books, and eventually tackled THAT ONE CLOSET. You know what I’m talking about; we all have one. Ours happens to be in our basement, and it has been the less-than-joyful recipient of childhood porcelain dolls, high school mementos, the detritus of my scrapbooking years, boxes and boxes of old comic books, and items that I believed would eventually make a great gift for… somebody.

The mechanics of the project are much less significant, to me, than the impact. My husband and I were actually giddy at dinner on Sunday, and we kept going around the house looking at “how much space” we had made available. The metaphor is fairly obvious. The literal space in our home was a fair representative of the space that we had opened up in our minds. It’s pretty remarkable how significantly clutter can unconsciously weigh at us, and we really don’t notice it until it’s gone.

I once heard that clutter is just “un-made decisions,” and I tend to agree. Think about all the decisions we make when we clear things out. And those decisions haven’t been absent from our brains. They’re the invisible anchor we’re carrying around, and we don’t recognize the burden until we’re no longer carrying it. You can get a taste of this if you imagine how you feel when you see that stack of “stuff” on your table/counter/whatever that’s just waiting for you to sort.

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De-cluttering may not be your thing, but I will say this. We all have unmade decisions laying around, and I guarantee that you have more to gain than lose by starting to make the decisions that will maximize your joy.​

Cabot Psychological Services

Clearing Out The Cobwebs, De-Cluttering Your Life

by Dr. Amanda Mulfinger