Taking Out Your Emotional Trash: Face Your Feelings and Build Healthy Relationships
Harvest House (2010)
Reviewed by Leslie Granier for Reader Views (11/10)
“Taking Out Your Emotional Trash” is a book to help people recognize their feelings and find ways to understand them so they can develop and maintain healthy relationships. Author Georgia Shaffer is a psychologist and life coach, which helps bolster the credibility of her words. Shaffer adeptly utilizes the analogies of dirt, garbage, and compost to demonstrate how holding on to negative feelings not only makes us look and feel bad but prevents us from flourishing into the wonderful people God created us to be. She encourages the readers to seek enlightenment in many ways including praying, talking to close friends, and writing their feelings in a journal. Questions to promote thinking about the trash we carry and how to rid ourselves of it are provided at the end of each chapter.
I especially connected with the concept that anger and other destructive emotions build up over small issues that are not resolved, but when such emotions are unleashed they are astronomically disproportionate to the incident that triggered them. The author’s advice of cleaning out emotional clutter little by little is sound. It may be a long and tedious process but in the end it will be a great accomplishment.
Another process that Shaffer focuses on is forgiveness. She emphasizes that forgiving is not forgetting, excusing or justifying bad behavior. Rather, it is a means for releasing ourselves from hurt or negative feelings so we can improve our relationships with others. She supplies a good list of signs and behaviors that show if a person has reached the end stage of forgiveness.
This book can be of benefit to anyone ten years or older, but adults will relate better to the examples simply because they are more likely to have experienced them firsthand. “Taking Out Your Emotional Trash” is Christian based and includes many references to Biblical scriptures. The author does a good job of showing that the downfall of many relationships stems from unmet desires. She offers advice on how to distinguish between a desire and a need and how it is often necessary to modify our desires in order to achieve contentment.