Over the weekend, I did the unthinkable; I began chipping away at the clutter in my basement. It seems the older I get, the more I become annoyed by “stuff”. Perhaps it’s wisdom that comes with age and the realization that I don’t need all this stuff to survive; I can’t take it with me in the next life anyway. I decided one storage bin of pictures was feasible and began.
As I looked in this bin, I found a multitude of treasures: newspaper clips that my mother had kept, obituaries, an entire newspaper dedicated to construction of the Waldo Pool (yes, I am from Waldo, Ohio…and yes, Waldo has a pool!), pictures from birth through college graduation and of course, my grade cards from preschool through high school.
In an instant, I wondered how to decide what to keep versus what to toss. This box had been in existence for at least 40 years and contained family memories for many. I had visited this space before and so far, had never been able to let go the content from this box, no matter how small or insignificant the items seemed to be.
I decided this day was different. I took the plunge. Relatives reading my blog, hold onto your seats. In less than an hour pictures, wedding announcements, church bulletins, obituaries, retirement napkins, graduation invitations and the like was (gulp) gone.
For most of us, letting go of anything is a painful process. Whether it’s junk drawer contents, memorabilia, clothes we no longer wear or something as significant as a toxic relationship, it is hard to let go of anything that is a part of who we are or how we got there.
Letting go is by no means a step by step process, but what worked for me this day (and I didn’t consider in the past) were 3 concepts I used to challenge myself:
1. Ask WHY? (and don’t stop until you’ve got the real answer!)
Why did I keep this box of memorabilia so long? Because it was part of my family for a long time.
Why has it been in your family for so long? Because we hated throwing anything away.
Why did you hate throwing anything away? Because the stuff is from a precious time in my life and I want to remember these people, places, events
Why do you need a box of memorabilia to remember this time in your life? Because…well…BINGO!
GREAT QUESTION. I don’t need this box to remember those points in my life. That’s what my heart and mind are for. The box is a visual reminder, not a necessity.
When you do this exercise, don’t stop at Why #1 or #2. In fact, I invite you to keep going until you hit 4 or 5 Why’s. Challenge yourself to go beyond your comfort zone, until you hit the real answer. “I don’t know” doesn’t count!
2. Challenge Deeply Rooted Limiting Beliefs (and ask, “Is it True”?)
For generations, my family kept these “things”. We held onto them to keep memories alive. Right, wrong or indifferent, “things” are our relationship to the past, a relationship to what was or what still is a part of us. My limiting belief was “I can’t throw these things away!”
Really? Why not? You physically can’t throw them away?
No. It’s more like this: I have a significant emotional attachment to my deceased mother. Many of these things were saved by her. Throwing these things away meant I was dishonoring her, letting her down, throwing away everything that was important to her.
Is it true that throwing these things away would be dishonoring her? Letting her down? Throwing away everything that was important to her?
No, it is not true. In fact, it has nothing to do with dishonoring her. Nothing to do with letting her down. And clearly, this was not everything that was important to her.
I can throw these things away.
I cannot throw the memories away.
These memories live vividly in my heart. My treasure chest resides in my minds eye, packed with beautiful things from this box of “stuff”.
3. Make the Decision to Do. Or do not. There is no try.
This is my favorite part. I grew up in the “Star Wars” era, so I am very fond of anything Star Wars, especially Yoda. There was a whole lot of wisdom packed into this little 900 year old dude. One of my favorite Yoda quotes is “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” Please humor me and watch the video!
When we make the decision to let go of anything, we must do it…or not. Trying to let go is a process. Making the decision to let go is the beginning of change. It’s really that simple.
So, I made the decision to let go. One box of stuff in the trash. End of story. My process summarized:
- I have no good reason to keep the box of stuff. The memories are in my head; I don’ t need the visual reminder of what was past.
- This does not mean I am dishonoring my mother or letting her down.
- I can throw these things away (but cannot throw the memories away).
I realize memorabilia is minor. Letting go of jobs, unhealthy connections or toxic relationships are major. In any circumstance, these three concepts apply. I encourage you to think about them and how they apply to your situation.
I would love to support and guide your through your “letting go” process. Whatever it looks like for you, reclaiming your life as your own is a journey and it begins with your heart. Contact me today for your complimentary “Heart To Heart” Strategy Session.