Let’s get curious for a moment. (Just like the cat in the picture above, looking through the boxes). Do you feel stressed in your own home? Do you have piles and boxes of things stored away or in plain sight that leave you wondering what to do? In this post we are here together to answer the question: Why are we hanging on to stuff that stresses us? Here I’m going to explore three reasons why we may be hanging on to all of that stuff and how we can let those reasons go.
The Case of What If:
We all hang on to things because of the thought “What if?” For example, we hang on to a very specific piece of cooking equipment because we think “What if I decide to make _________ for a party.” We probably haven’t used it for many years, or ever, but that “what if” lurks around as if it were speaking to us every time we look at or think of that item. We may keep a piece of clothing because “What if I decide to go on a trip and I need to wear ____________.” Even though we really don’t like the color, or we bought it on sale because of the “what if.” What if takes over our shelves, drawers, cabinets and closets. It takes up residents in our thoughts. Every time we try to de-clutter or let go, the “what if” is there saying “no” to us. The “what if” can come up also if it’s an item that was a gift. What think “What if __________ comes to my house and wonders where that item is?” Chances are the person will be thinking more about enjoying time with you than if you kept that item. “What if” is like a sneaky gremlin stopping us from getting rid of the physical items causing us stress. It’s always blocking us from letting go. You can stand up to “what if” by powerfully saying “I’m living in the present moment now. What if cannot have a hold on me. I will make choices based on if this item is really serving me right now.” That will make the “what if’s” voice much quieter, and eventually “what if” will retreat and go away.
The Case of Living in the Past:
If you have boxes and bags full of old graduation programs, certificates, journals, letters and more, those things can cause you to live in the past. I believe you can keep part of your past and still live in the now, but it is important to choose carefully the items that bring you joy now when you look at them rather than those that cause you to relive some past pain. Items that are from an old relationship or a friendship that is no longer part of your present moment are ones that are important to let go of. Letting go of those items can open up your possibility space in the present moment and you will feel much lighter for getting rid of them.
The Case of Living in the Future:
Sometimes we can even hang on to things that we think we will do in the future, and that keeps us from enjoying our present moment and the things that we choose to do now. It can cause us to feel like a failure even before we have started anything. Those are another type of little gremlin called “Someday I will.” These are like the weights, yoga mats and exercise DVDs that are gathering dust in the garage while you have found a way to exercise that you enjoy right now. Those items say to you every time you pass by them “Someday I will….and then….” They seem to taunt you and cause you to think twice about the choice you have made in the present moment. Who needs those when we can feel good about who we are and the choices we have made right now? For example, I went through a phase when I thought that I wanted to start a weight-lifting routine again. I put together a weight set, bought books, etc. Then, I realized that I enjoyed working out on the elliptical that we already had set up in our family room first thing in the mornings much more. It was exercise that I knew I would stick to as a 5 day a week habit. It was something that I could be in the present moment with. So, I am letting go of the equipment and books and applauding myself for finding what’s right for me, not something I thought I ought to do. The “someday I will” gremlin will go away when we are able to face those “future” items and let them go with grace.
What if we lived in the now?
If we live in the now we can just ask “Is this item serving me now?” Items can serve us now by being useful in our present moment lives, or being something that gives us joy right now as we display it or look at it.
Are you hanging on to stuff that stresses you? If so, comment below or send me an email at:
If you are ready to explore your things but need weekly/daily support and would like to work with me one on one, feel free to reach out to me by email and I can send you a client survey and set up a call with you. I can work with local clients and long distance clients.