The Junk Drawer of Your Mind

I was looking for something the other day and of course it wasn’t where I thought I put it the last time I saw it. If you’re like me the very next place you look is your junk drawer. We probably all have one – that place where stuff goes that doesn’t really have a home of its own anywhere else.

Mine is in a small drawer within my dresser. As I opened it up and began looking for these particular flashlight batteries I noticed that I have a lot of crap in there. I have six pairs of shoelaces, three former cell phones and car chargers, a couple of rubber balls, lanyards, old business cards, sports decals, shoe polish, old receipts, an old wallet, and luckily the batteries I was looking for!

At one point or another everything that went into that drawer had a purpose; I was saving everything there for a reason that made complete sense to me at the time. My cat likes to play with shoelaces so I’ll keep them for him. I’ll turn those cell phones into that program that provides them to troops overseas. I’ve always loved playing with rubber balls so I’ll keep a couple around for when I want to bounce one against the wall. I need these receipts in case I have to bring something back to the store. And so it goes. Much of what is in that drawer is years old and I’ve never actually done anything with it.

As I realized I have a drawer full of stuff I probably will never use, two thoughts hit me. First I need to clean out this drawer! Second, I think I have a second junk drawer I need to clean out first.

Perhaps it’s just me but don’t we keep a similar junk drawer in our heads? We hold onto information, emotions, traumas, slights, betrayals, and a bunch of other crap in the junk drawer of our mind. At the time we put this stuff there we’re sure we’re going to use it again for a certain purpose, but just like our other junk drawer we don’t. The junk drawer of our mind simply collects stuff and holds it there for no real reason.

But unlike our physical junk drawer which just takes up space, the junk drawer of our mind can create a lot more trouble for us, which is why I think we need to spend some time cleaning it out.

Think about what might be in the junk drawer of your mind. For me it’s not very positive stuff. Instead it’s kind of the negative stuff that has happened in my life. I end up looking through that drawer anytime something triggers a strong emotion and the crap in that junk drawer reinforces negative emotions and responses. Let’s see if I can give you a concrete example.

This is hypothetical, of course!

Let’s say you have memories of your mom and dad fighting when you were a kid. At the time you really didn’t understand why they couldn’t get along but you have strong emotions tied to that. You’re 40 years old today but those memories are in your junk drawer – the place you hid those thoughts because of their strong emotional triggers.

Then last night you had a fight with your spouse. Out of the corner of your eye you notice your kid peaking around the corner watching mom and dad go at it. All of a sudden your junk drawer opens and you see yourself being just like your parents and realize you are traumatizing your kid the same way they did you. Ouch!

See our junk drawers can be little mine fields – one wrong step and you lose a leg!

Part of our healing from lives experiences is cleaning out the junk drawer of your mind. It’s a lot harder to do than say, but it is vital we take a crack at it if we hope to live Christ-centered lives. Here are some suggestions of how to start.

  • Do an inventory of the junk drawer in your mind – what’s there?
  • Determine what triggers you accessing the various things in that junk drawer
  • Determine how you can minimize the triggers!
  • Take each thing you find in that junk drawer and determine if you still need to keep it or not. Like all our junk drawers most can be tossed!
  • Create a list of the stuff in your junk drawer you want to toss. Then go to God in prayer and ask Him to help you clean out your junk drawer. Work on one issue at a time. Figure out why you put it in the junk drawer and why you no longer need it.
  • Repeat this process every year for the rest of your life!

After I found my batteries I told myself I would get back to that drawer and clean it out. Well it’s only been one day but here I am sitting on my butt typing a blog instead. It is so easy to ignore what is not seen, but I know I need to clean out that drawer! Perhaps you’re feeling the same way about a drawer you have in your house.

So as you think about all the junk you’ve accumulated over the years think as well about how much junk you’ve kept in your head that no longer has a reason for being there. Maybe you should start with that junk drawer before you get to the other one.

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