Tips: For Letting Go of Your Stuff
Dr. Dale V. Atkins, March 2012
Why is it so hard to give away the vase you received as a wedding present from your favorite aunt (even though you never really liked the style)? What was it about that "special night" when you wore the green taffeta dress that now collects dust in the back of your closet? Do you truly believe that your children really want to have all of your elementary school report cards?
What is going on with "memories and attachments" to the things we keep? What purpose do these things (and memories) continue to play and for how long do you need to keep things that you no longer use, like, or fit you, either in style or disposition? Might taking a photo of something with a reminder phrase attached, help you to let go of the object while cementing the memory? At some point, it can be unbelievably healthy and freeing to examine, analyze, and address what your "things" mean to you as a way to cull through them and your life.
It is definitely true that some of us have an easier time sifting, sorting, sending, and discarding than others. Try to understand, without judgment, how something has served you and whether you still need to "hold onto the past" in the shape and form of this object. You may feel that you are dismissing someone's generosity or taste by no longer using a special gift. Even if something reminds you of a happy time, you can still have the memory without the object. When your things cease to bring you joy, or evoke mixed or negative emotions, it's time to let them go. Most people describe feeling calmer when they go through cabinets, closets, shelves, and get rid of clutter and what they no longer need.
Consider the following tips for releasing things that no longer serve as sources of joy or utility:
Focus on the Object. - What does this thing mean to you? Decide whether you need to keep it to retain the benefit or a memory. What do you need to do, feel, think, or say to let it go? Rituals and ceremonies can be very useful here, especially if the object came into your life as a result of a significant life passage.
Put Your Things to Better Use. - Something came to you, you used it, and now it's time to let it go to someone else. Think of recycling and giving someone else the chance to create his or her own memory with what no longer serves you. Recall with good feeling the dinner parties you had on this particular set of dishes and think of how nice they would look on someone else's table. Know the divine feeling someone will have wearing your lovely clothes at her new job. Donate to a college library the books that helped you learn what you needed to learn that you no longer use.
Lighten Your Load. - When there is space, there are possibilities. Be open and let life bring you great joy, inspiration, and meaning as you open up to possibilities. You may or may not "fill the space" but having space creates room to grow, to think, to create. Get rid of the "you" that no longer "fits" or represents who you are. If you are no longer a smoker, get rid of those pretty cigarette cases and lighters. Bid a fond farewell to that which no longer is part of your life and the way you see yourself. Keep what reflects who you are now and who and what you aspire to be. Make room for possibilities.
Hanging on to things you no longer need or use prevents you from opening up to new forms, styles, and spaces.