How do you know when it’s time to let go of something? Is there a right
We spend so much of our lives trying to get stuff, from clothes to cars
to jobs to relationships, that I think it’s somewhat against our nature to let
things go. There comes a time, though, that we have to dispose of things that
we’ve accumulated for our own well-being. When it no longer serves its purpose
or no longer feels good, it’s likely time to let it go.
What are some things that we might consider getting rid of? Hard
feelings, toxic relationships, objects that don’t make us feel good anymore,
negative feelings that are getting in the way of personal growth or
contentment. There are a number of other things that can affect our lives that
we should consider dismissing from our lives.
It seems that I’ve been on a purging expedition for the past few years.
I’ve reexamined relationships, living environment, finances, emotions and
feelings as well as my general “stuff” that I’ve spent decades accumulating. I’m
not sure that there’s necessarily one reason why we do this. Rather, I think it’s
a gradual process that we go through and sometimes we’re just more aware of it
than others. In my case, I think it’s a combination of events including
illness, financial necessity, reprioritization of what’s important to me, and
capping it off with a milestone birthday (i.e., ageing!).
We all have things that we hold onto that we know we should get rid of.
Sometimes it’s emotional, like anger, grief, or resentment. Those things take a
toll on us, emotionally and physically. Sometimes we’re able to process these
things and move forward with our lives. Sometimes we get stuck in a perpetual
replay of whatever incidents caused these feelings. Sometimes we need longer to
process something that happened and that’s okay. At some point, though, we know
that we’ll have to let it go, to move forward and start healing. That can mean
mending a problem that we’re dealing with in order to move in a more positive
direction. We can do this by letting go of something or someone or by actively
addressing the problem itself. Making a decision and taking action at all is
Sometimes we have ideas, principles, or beliefs that we hold dear to
our heart, those things that define us; who we are, what we stand for. These
things are really hard to change but sometimes we have to examine them and
determine if they’re still appropriate or right for us. If you start feeling
uncomfortable about things that you do or things that you think or say, it’s
letting you know that perhaps those things no longer belong in your life. Our
culture and our surroundings are always changing and what you used to think may
no longer be applicable. It’s up to us to ensure that we are self-aware and
behave according to our norms and morals. Additionally, as we age and as our
life circumstances change, so do our beliefs or the things that we expect in
our life. How we think about things at 15 isn’t how our circumstances are
reflected when we’re 35 and certainly different than when we’re 65. Things that
we experience, people that we meet, and things that happen to us throughout our
life will, of course, affect the way we view things. We SHOULD be changing our
beliefs and ideas about things. If we didn’t, we would always be disappointed!
It’s important to let go of things that we thought should happen or we wished
would have happened. We have one life to live and we need to move forward. We
need to adapt our own beliefs and ideas to the person that we actually ARE and
that may not be the person you expected to be.
Then there’s our STUFF. I’m a person that had (has) boxes of the kids’
stuff in my attic. Every card I received was something that I loved and wanted
to keep. I have mementos from vacations and wear a t-shirt to bed that I got at
Niagara Falls probably 20 years ago (OMG, I just realized it was that old). I
like my stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a hoarder and it’s all put away
somewhere, but I have a hard time parting with things that mean something to
We keep things for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s simply because
of where/when we received it (vacations, memorable times, etc.). Sometimes it’s
because of the person that gave it to us; perhaps they’re no longer with us or
you identify that person with the item. Sometimes it reminds us of better times
and we hate to get rid of it. There are any number of reasons that we hold onto
things and lots of them are good reasons. There are some things, however, that
would benefit us to let go of.
If you’re holding onto clothes from 10 years ago because you might fit
into them again, you’re constantly thinking about how you DON’T fit in them
now, which is defeating.
If you’re holding onto every single piece of paper your kid brings home, trust me when I say that you’ll be able to remember their accomplishments and their personality 30 years later without looking at that picture they made in kindergarten. If you order just the school pictures you need instead of the full package just to throw away 90% of them, you’re not a bad parent. Don’t let guilt guide your decision. You don’t need to keep or buy everything!
Old batteries and light bulbs are a great example of keeping things
just to keep them! How many times have you replaced either of those and held
onto the spares because they MIGHT still be good and you MIGHT be able to use
them at some point? No more! I’m throwing them away…starting today.
I just let go of my treadmill and exercise bike. If I had to guess, I
would say that I’m not the only one with exercise equipment in my home that isn’t
used (or used much). I tried to get in the habit of using them, I really did.
When I walked past it, I would occasionally walk for a bit or spend some time
on the bike, but it was more out of guilt than it was enjoyment or even for the
benefit of exercise. I was defiant in holding onto it, though. I kept
convincing myself that I would soon be in the habit of using them every day, or
at least every couple of days. Why? Because I wanted to be that person! I
really wanted to be the person that exercised a few times a week and was fit
and toned and healthy! I wanted to be dedicated
enough to stick to it and see results. Sadly, I’m not that person.
Many times, we hold onto things, not because of the things themselves,
but for what they represent. To me, that bike and treadmill represented success,
diligence, and health. That’s a lot of pressure for exercise equipment. The
fact that I had to admit that I don’t have the dedication I expected is something
that I finally dealt with. The fact that I had to admit that I’m not physically
able to use those things on a regular basis (and likely will never be) was a
lot harder to accept. It was something that I’ve been trying to ignore for
awhile now. That part makes me sad. So in getting rid of these two items, I’m
releasing the guilt and the sadness that I lived with daily when I saw them and
reminded me that I didn’t live up to my own expectations. Good riddance!
In the end, not everything is worth hanging onto, from our thoughts to
our belongings. Be choosy about what you’re thinking, what you’re doing, and
what you’re holding onto. Not everything benefits you. We all have things that
we have to deal with. Sometimes the best course is to keep something and other
times, it’s to release it. When it’s time to let it go, take a deep breath and just