Not everything serves us forever. We can be all-in on something one day and then be finished with it the next. I wasn’t necessarily raised that way, and throughout my adult life I have waffled a lot when it comes to “letting it go” and “keeping it”.
What I experienced from a very young age was that when something was gone it was gone forever. If it broke, there weren’t resources to fix or replace it. It was critical to care for anything that had any type of physical or emotional value. By the time I was seventeen years old I had lived in fourteen different houses – moving my stuff was a nail biter for me because if anything got lost or broken along the way it was gone forever.
This need to protect what may seem like trivial things to other people developed a sense of deep love for what I did have. I mean I full on cherished a coloring book, guarded it, hid it from my siblings, and only colored small areas of it at a time so that it would last as long as possible. In fact, I still have that coloring book, and it’s still not finished.
Fast forward to 2022. I have lived fifty-four years on planet Earth, I have collected things along the way, and I have what I consider a normal amount of possessions (although I’ve been told that it’s more than other people might have). And I love most of what I have in my home.
When my husband passed away a few months ago I became the sole keeper of not only what I brought into the relationship, what we gathered along the way, but also everything that he brought into the relationship.
That feels like too many things.
I’ve been consistently donating items that are the obvious ones. Clothes that no longer fit me; Gary’s work clothes; the extra set of dinnerware; etc. That sounds great, but the emotional preparation it takes for me to let go of these items is significant. I have to spend time psyching myself up before I can actually put them in the truck to take them to the donation center. After all, I have become attached to most everything I have. I don’t live in a disposable world.
The most helpful realization that I have had recently is that the easiest way to let go of anything is to be sure that there isn’t a negative connotation surrounding the release of the item. There is no reason to justify letting possessions go. I don’t have to find a way to dislike the stuff I want to get rid of.
There is a big difference between donating that set of dinnerware because I just have way too much stuff, and donating it because I know that someone else will love it, use, have room for it, etc. Categorizing it as “too much” is a subtle way of justifying the release of it and that doesn’t feel good. In fact it causes me to argue for why I should keep it.
Eventually the flavor is chewed out of the gum.
If that dinnerware doesn’t have a lot of flavor for me anymore, then it’s a good idea for me to let it go. I would never keep chewing on gum hoping and waiting for the flavor to come back!! When that set was purchased and brought into the home it was exciting, and fun, and stimulating, and enhanced mealtimes. Anymore, it just takes up space. Instead of focusing on that though I focused on the idea that it’s going to be exciting, fun, stimulating once again – and it’s going to enhance someone else’s mealtimes! I had fun packing it up and felt happy dropping it at the donation center!
Keeping the stuff is ok. Letting go of the stuff is ok. Once I stabilized in that concept and stopped beating myself up it has been so much easier to balance my possessions.