How to let go


Are you motivated to start your organizing journey but your fear of letting go is holding you back? Is the difficulty of discarding your belongings one of reasons you procrastinate?

Letting go is one of the most challenging parts in organizing. Most people are aware that downsizing is beneficial, that it’s necessary to give away items before organizing a house or even an agenda. Some have read Marie Kondo’s book “The life-changing magic of tidying up” and clearly agree with her concept of keeping only items that “spark joy” in life. Yet, when it becomes reality and they have to make a decision, they are not willing to emotionally part with their possessions.

Have you ever experienced this feeling? You are not the only one.

Humans tend to identify with their belongings. We believe that we ARE our objects. That they define our self-worth, even if they don’t have any functional or monetary value. Objects fill our empty emotional space, give us security and define us socially. They keep past memories alive and influence how others look at us. Because of those beliefs, letting go of items is not only a physical act. It also includes letting go of the fear that makes us hold on to things. We might be afraid of the emotions we will experience when we discard, afraid to make a mistake, to regret our decision; afraid to get exposed and vulnerable.

However, it’s important to realize that this fear can stop you from being who you truly are, remembering what is really important to you. Letting go can bring clarity into your life, help you to live in the present, refuel you with energy and motivation and reduce your stress and anxiety. Here a couple of tips to facilitate your letting go process:

  • Follow Marie Kondo and keep a positive attitude: it’s not about what you discard but about what you keep. Focus your mind on the items that “spark joy” in your life, and not on the ones you are letting go.
  • Before organizing, think about who you really are. Understand your life goals, your values, your inner convictions. They will guide you in the discarding process as they will tell you what objects really suit your lifestyle. Do you keep the book about how to become a poker star because this is your true passion or because your dad told you that you should be a poker star?
  • Experiences and memories are more important than stuff. If you have less stuff, you will have more time to spend with your loved ones.
  • Every time you say no to something, you say yes to something else. Imagine how much joy and how many amazing things could enter your life if you manage to create some space?
  • Parting might let to grief. Change the way you look at it: do you prefer feeling a little grief when you give away the African mask on the wall or feeling frustrated every time you look at it for the next 10 years?
  • If you die tomorrow, would you want your family to go through all your belongings? Wouldn’t it be better to sort through yourself and let go now of your clutter?
  • If you really can’t figure out what to do, ask yourself why you initially got the item, what its purpose was, how often you used it. If the object has over-lived its purpose, then acknowledge it, say thank you and let it go. This is especially important for presents you received but never used. Saying thanks might seem weird, but helps valorizing the item and its purpose.
  • Do something positive with your discarded items: donate them to people in need or charities; exchange them with friends; give them to someone you know who would actually use it wisely (without forcing it on other people!); sell it or offer it for free on facebook or
  • Digitize photos, kids’ art or memorabilia. Take a picture and then let go.
  • Keep one or too, but not all of them. Remember that less is more, especially for decoration items. If you have one vase on the shelf, it will get 10 times more attention that if you have 10!
  • Ask yourself if it’s easy to replace or if you’d find the information somewhere else. Could you find a substitute or do without it, in case you would regret your decision?
  • If you have broken or unused items, it’s always ideal to repair, recycle, reuse or renew. It’s the best thing you can do for your home, your wallet and the planet. But be realistic about how much you can and want to fix. Otherwise it will become a burden.
  • Don’t keep stuff because you might need it “one day”. Most of the time, the “one day” never comes. And if it comes and you manage to lose your 10 kg in 10 years from now, you will probably want to buy something more fancy.

Now it’s your turn. Commit yourself and start your journey. Keep what truly speaks to your heart and let go of the rest. The more your train, the better you will get at it. And always remember one thing:

You are you. You are not your stuff!


Photo by Ankush Minda on Unsplash

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