Letting Go of Who You Were (or Who You’ll Never Be)

Letting Go of Who You Were

Today’s big idea is that letting go of who you were — or who you’ll never be is a huge component to de-cluttering. It can stop you in your tracks. And that’s the mental and emotional side of getting rid of stuff. Specifically, how to decide what you’re ready to let go of, and how to process the emotions that those decisions are going to stir up.

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I know that when you hear de-cluttering you probably think of tossing the low-hanging fruit. Like expired coupons, or the juicer you got years ago, used once and then never again once you realized what a pain it was to clean. Those are no-brainers. And while it can be helpful to have some guidance on how to move that stuff along, that’s not the angle I’m taking today. 

For today, I’m specifically talking about the process of letting go of who you were — or who you’ll never be

So that you can also release all the physical things that go with those identities and create space for who you are now and who you want to be in the future. 

The kinds of things I’m talking about are the party dresses you used to wear to weddings in your 20s and 30s and now you’re 50. The snazzy bike clothes you bought when you thought you were going to become a cyclist. The guitar you were going to learn how to play. The throw pillows that were really going to pull the room together that you secretly hate because they’re uncomfortable. The coloring books you bought during the coloring craze that you don’t use. 

Getting rid of these things that represent who you were can bring up a lot of feels

Like maybe you’re a failure at learning to play the guitar. Or sadness that a phase of your life is over. And most humans try to avoid feeling unpleasant emotions. It’s soooooo normal and natural. 

But the thing is, keeping this stuff around keeps you trapped in a low-grade version of those feelings. Every-time you look at the guitar you think, wow, I never did that. Or see the coloring books you think, I guess I’m just not meant to be more Zen. Or the sexy party dress makes you feel bad that it doesn’t fit anymore. They are reminders of who you were, and not in a good way. They’re more like little anchors that are pulling at your psyche. 

What you’re not considering is that feeling an emotion is how it passes

And allowing yourself to see these things clearly as a vestige of a former life or identity will definitely stir up some feelings. BUT there will be a gift in going through the process of feeling those feelings by letting go of who you were. Your sadness about the prior phase of your life being over will lessen once you walk through it. And you’ll be able to appreciate it for what it was instead of feel bad that it’s not longer here. 

Not only that, but getting rid of those things from a former incarnation of you creates more space and more acceptance—for who you are now. And what you value, and how you like to spend your time. It’s just an enormous gift to yourself. 

I find de-cluttering things that no longer serve a lot more motivating and enjoyable when I think about getting things in to the hands of people who will use and appreciate them. 

Something I recently made the hard decision to pass on was my grandmother’s 1968 convertible Mustang

This was my Gommy’s everyday car. It was beautiful, black, with red leather seats, a white top, and a horn that sounded like a trumpet. She kept it until she was 90 years old. It didn’t run well at all when she gifted it to me, and my kids were toddlers at the time—it wasn’t exactly something I was going to put car seats in, you know? Or that I had extra money lying around to fix up and get it road worthy. 

So it stayed in our garage for several years. I said it was just until the kids were older. But really, it was never a priority for me in terms of time or money to fix it up. There were so many other things to spend time and money on! I started to feel bad that I was neglecting it, that I should be taking care of it, etc. etc. It was starting to feel like a burden. 

I finally asked around for a recommendation of a garage to take it to to see if I could at least take it on a few trips to the beach before selling it. Turns out it was going to cost multiple five figures to get it running, and I really just didn’t have the stomach for coming up with that money.

BUT the woman who worked at the garage I brought it to fell in love with it

And this was before I told her all about my grandmother, and how she’s wear a scarf on her head and these big sunglasses and drive it all over the place. This woman offered to buy it and said she would be thrilled to have my mom and I take it out for a spin once it was running. That’s when I knew I could let it go and it felt like the right thing, and not like some kind of failing on my part. 

A great place to pass things on to folks who will appreciate them is your local Buy Nothing group

These have cropped up on Facebook. Most communities have one, and it’s where you can go post pictures of what you no longer want and more than likely there’s someone out there who would love it. And they will even come to your house and pick it up! I have been giving stuff away on my local Buy Nothing like crazy. And it feels so good to know that my old beloved Scrabble game that I moved from apartment to apartment and then house to house that I recently discovered no longer had the game board has been up-cycled into a family’s Christmas decorations. The woman who took them used the letter tiles to make a really sign for their mantelpiece.  

Of course there are thrift stores to donate to and Craigslist or Facebook marketplace to sell things that are valuable. You’ve got a ton of options for finding folks who will appreciate the stuff you no longer want or need. 

Daily Tiny Assignment

So your tiny assignment is to walk around your home and identify the things that made sense in the past, but don’t fit your life now. You don’t have to get rid of everything today, or this week, or even this month. Just start seeing these things clearly–being aware of them and how much space they’re taking up will help you get started on clearing them whenever that day comes. We’ll cover how to actually get started later in the week, so don’t worry about that just yet.Unless of course, if you do get inspired to move something out and get it to someone who will appreciate it. Then by all means, ride that wave!

Feng shui tells us that space is a conduit for energy–so think about getting rid of the things that no longer serve you as freeing up space and inviting new energy into your life. Couldn’t we all use an infusion of new, less burdensome energy right about now? 

Come back tomorrow

When I’m talking more about the value in making space for who you are now–it can be a great incentive for doing the hard work of getting rid of the things that no longer serve.


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