Confessions of an Email Hoarder
Well I did it. And quite accidentally. After posting "Less is More" I went on a mission to get my email inbox to zero. What I really was thinking was "close to zero." It is time for confession. Yes, I admit it! I am an EMAIL HOARDER!
They say that confession is good for the soul. I'm not sure about that. It doesn't feel good, or at least it didn't the moment that I made the confession.
Here is how it went down:
I started with my main gmail account. I was doing keyword searches to find content that I wanted to delete. I started at +20,000 emails. Yes, you are reading that correctly. I had more than 20,000 emails in my inbox.
Now if you are judging me right now, let me explain. This habit of saving emails started a long time ago. It started so simply. One day, someone accused me of failing to notify them by email. Another day someone accused me of never discussing an issue with them. Sometime later, a company asked me to "prove" that I had records on a dispute. One issue after another created this powerful narrative in my head: "You better keep that just in case."
Unfortunately, there were many "just in case" scenarios that followed to justify my behavior. "You didn't talk to me? Let me forward you that email I sent you last month. There!" One situation after another presented itself and Rebecca became the hero of the day by producing documentation. Suddenly, people began relying on me to produce this documentation.
And down the rabbit hole I went. "Let me save that. Let me archive that. I better not delete that. I might need that."
The truth of the matter is I was letting FEAR take the driver's seat!
Now, back to my story. I was happily and selectively deleting unwanted emails when it happened. I emptied my trash and went back to my inbox. Blink, blink. Does that say 235? My heart dropped.
I clicked and clicked. The trash was empty. I checked my folders. Empty. I went back to my inbox and stared in disbelief. Yep. 235. And all but eight of them were dated "2017." What?!
I felt my heart in my throat. "What did I just do?" I quickly went into solution mode: maybe there is a way to recover them. I Googled it. Site after site confirmed my worst nightmare: if you empty the Trash, you cannot recover your emails. What?!
Disgust set in. How could I make such an awful mistake? As I was sitting there steaming and stewing over my gross mismanagement of email cleanup, Hubby asked me "What's wrong?" I told him. He laughed. "Oh, yeah. I always delete my emails and keep my inbox at zero."
What I didn't say but wanted to say was "Yeah, I know. I kept them for you!" Then it dawned on me. As I thought about what he said, I began to realize the craziness of my dysfunctional thought patterns. He deletes all of his emails. And he seems to be getting along just fine without them.
Sure, there have been a couple of times over the last decade where my neurotic behavior saved the day. But at what cost?
As reality started to sink in and I began to accept my current situation, something inside of my head clicked. "Life is not about emails, Rebecca. Just let it go!"
And I did. And can I make another confession to you? I went back to my inbox and deleted the rest of my emails. There! It is done! Inbox equals ZERO.
I cannot even describe the freedom that I felt in that moment. After years of dragging around the email safe vault, I let it go. And you know what? My world did not come crashing down around me. Later in the day, I was looking for some information. I said "I'll just search my emails." Oh, wait. Crap! They are all gone. LOL!
Guess what? I eventually found the information I needed. And as Iyanla Vanzant would say "the world unfolded as it should."
Meet my new love - the DELETE key!
Now before I let you off the hook by keeping you in my crazy story, let me ask you this: "What is your neurosis?" What is that thing you have been holding onto with pride but refuse to let go? Just in case. Because maybe you might need it.
Is it a relationship that is going nowhere?
What about a habit that is draining your time and energy?
Is it a job that you know you need to leave?
Is it a situation that you need to remove yourself from?
What I do know is that I am NOT the only one who struggles with giving up unproductive behavior patterns. It is something we all at some time or another struggle with. It is part of being human.
But as you know from reading my blog, FEAR is not a part of my narrative. And I don't recommend it for you either. My email hoarding was a form of fear. And I eventually had ot admit the truth of that.
What is the "truth" you are denying?
I also know that breaking free from those behavior patterns helps us grow in unexpected ways. Life has taught me this over and over again.
I am just beginning my journey of breaking up with email monster. But I have a feeling this will lead to some other things I need to give up. And more freedom.
And a year from now, I will be better for it.
Are you ready to share your struggle? Maybe it is not email hoarding. What is it? And most importantly, what are you going to do about it? Are you ready to walk into FREEDOM?
Be brave and remember this: I am cheering for you!