Letting Go, Making Room

January 09, 2012

About this time of year, I usually get a bee in my bonnet about simplifying and decluttering, both physically and mentally. 2012 is no different. Maybe it’s because the holidays seem to wreak havoc with my home and schedule and I’m desperate to get back to some semblance of order! I’m not the only one who feels this way, though, and it’s been reassuring to read others’ words about the whole process, and why it’s important and necessary.

The desire to clear out is more than just a desire for tidy desktops and crystalline thinking. It also has to do with making room amid the clutter for who you want to be and what you want to come into your life. Edward W. Smith put it this way in Sixty Seconds to Success: “Make room for the new you. You may not have totally determined who the new you is going to be, but you probably have decided that there are some things about the current you, that you want to change. Well while you are working on what the new you will be, start ‘cleaning out a room’ for the new you to live in. Get rid of the junk in your life both physical and mental that doesn't fit you anymore. Take things out of your schedule that are taking your time away from finding out what you want to do. By making room for the new you, you will create a vacuum that the new you will rush in to fill and you will be on your way to the top.”

It seems to me this process is largely about letting go. Letting go of the stuff that crowds our lives, whether it be kitchen gadgets, sporting equipment, or unexamined and outdated beliefs. Perhaps this means admitting we bought something for the person we wish we were, not the person we really are, or realizing that one of our “shoulds” is really someone else’s idea, not our own.

This periodic clearing out is important because too much mental and physical clutter distracts us from our primary goals by the constant irritations of having too much to do, and/or living in a messy, disorganized house.

The thing is: sometimes letting go is scary and hard. Christine Kane understands this, but points out that “We need to pay attention to what we are telling our subconscious minds when we hold on.” She goes on to write, “What are you holding onto? What thoughts and beliefs are you putting out into the Universe by clinging to it? Are you telling yourself you don’t believe in the inevitability of your own success and prosperity? Or that you don’t believe you can expand and create better things in your life?” (This is totally me. I cling, I grasp, I hold on to and try to control everything I can—and some things I can’t.)

Letting go can feel like failure or wastefulness. But things change—people and situations change. What served us well no longer does. Let go of those things, and maybe someone else can use them. Something even better is waiting for the chance to come in—we just have to make room for it.

What things are you clearing out this year? What one thing can you let go of today?

Might this be part of my problem?

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  1. I so need to do this - I have so much clutter in so many places. But I just don't want to take the time - there are so many more fun things to do!

  2. While clearing clutter can feel good, I can't really say it's much "fun"! So guess I'll reward myself with fun afterwards!

  3. Boy you hit a nerve with me with this post! I printed out a copy of your words and highlighted all over the page with phrases that I could relate to or that I felt nudging me!!! Amazing to see you write something all the way over there in Florida that touches my heart out here in California!!

    With a new 'empty nest' at home... I have 30+ years of stuff our family has collected and now it is left to my husband and I to pare back. Ug!!!

    You said sometimes letting go can be hard, and I'll say that is really the case with me.

    I do want to, and plan to make some progress on simplifying and decluttering at home this year, but sometimes I just get lost in thought and no action when I think of the enormity of the task and lack of time.... and then the innocent art supplies call me and they seem like more fun! We'll see what happens as the year progresses...

  4. I love it when something I write resonates with someone else! I'm really trying to make some changes in my home this year, too. Started with the master bathroom yesterday, and will continue today. I use my kitchen timer set at 30 minutes and work as fast as I can. That helps with the overwhelming feeling.

    I've also heard when decluttering that it's better to start in one room and complete that before moving on the the next. I find that hard for some reason--but I figured the master bath is a small enough room I might actually be able to complete it and then the feeling of accomplishment will help me keep at it.

    I think you deserve frequent art breaks if you are paring down 30 years of family stuff!