- What if we could declutter more than our old ‘stuff’?
- Why is it so hard to let go of the past?
- The process of letting go of the past begins with giving yourself permission to let go of the past.
- What’s one thing you’re willing to say thank you, and goodbye to in order to make space for something new?
- While you’re at it, how about forgiving yourself?
“The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.” ~ Marie Kondo
Marie Kondo is an organization expert. Her mission, in part, is to bring order to people’s lives by helping them let go of the past, the things in their life that don’t ‘spark joy’. She does this by encouraging people to part with the possessions that no longer serve them.
Easier said than done!
But it is an idea backed by science. A 2011 Princeton University study found that decluttering improves overall well-being. Basically, the study found that getting rid of things expands our clarity and focus. It helps us restore our mental health. It creates space for the things we really want in life.
Moreover, living in a cluttered space is associated with self-reports of reduced productivity and more chronic procrastination, according to a study published in 2017 in Current Psychology.
A study published in January 2019 in Environment and Behavior (coauthored by Ferrari and Roster) found that indecision and procrastination at work are associated with increased office clutter.
In a paper published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology in 2016 (also by Ferrari and Roster), survey responses from adults in the United States and Canada revealed that clutter can have a negative effect on subjective well-being and happiness.
What if we could declutter more than our old ‘stuff’?
What if we could let go of the past by decluttering the painful experiences, limiting beliefs, and unhelpful narratives that no longer serve us?
What if, by releasing our past, we made room for a new beginning?
Sounds great! But to let go of the past is easier said than done.
Why is it so hard to let go of the past?
While new beginnings can be fun and exciting, they also create uncertainty. The past is known. It’s familiar. It’s comfortable. Uncertainty creates fear. Fear is like an anchor that keeps us tethered to a safe harbor when we could be out experiencing a new voyage. When we are in that situation, it is not easy to recognize the freedom we might feel by letting go.
If you find yourself struggling to release the past, here are a few tips to encourage you to pull anchor, set sail, and discover a new adventure for yourself.
The process of letting go of the past begins with giving yourself permission to let go of the past.
Instead of forcing yourself to “just get over it” or “move on, already” perhaps a gentler approach is in order.
Here’s a more positive, healing dialogue you can experiment with: “___ happened. I feel ___. I learned ___. Now it’s time to release the part of my past experience that no longer serves me so I can make space for something new.”
It’s harder to let go of something if you don’t give yourself the go-ahead to do so. Remember, the longer you hang on to the past, the harder it will be to let go.
Now that you’ve given yourself permission to let go, it’s time to acknowledge and give gratitude for your past. This isn’t about denial, repression, or downplaying the significance of your past experience. Quite the opposite. You’re shining a light on the benefits you’ve received.
It’s easier to let go of the past when you pay tribute to it. Honoring the role your history played in helping you become the person you are is a great reminder that everything has a purpose.
What’s one thing you’re willing to say thank you, and goodbye to in order to make space for something new?
Forgiveness is another critical part of letting go. The first step in forgiving is accepting what happened. It can be difficult. It can be painful. It can be messy. That’s natural. Once you’ve accepted the past, allow yourself to feel whatever it is you feel. Then you can forgive and move forward.
This process doesn’t mean condoning wrongdoings. It means shifting the focus to your well-being, not the transgression or transgressor.
While you’re at it, how about forgiving yourself?
We can be so hard on ourselves – beating ourselves up for past mistakes, failures, regrets, decisions that didn’t pan out, or goals we failed to reach. Enough. You did the best you could. Now that you know better, you can do better.
Forgiveness is the gift you give yourself. You’re worthy of forgiveness. Forgiving yourself, and others, is like unpacking emotional baggage – it frees up room to experience the new feelings that a fresh start will bring.
Giving yourself permission to let go of the past, honoring the past, and forgiving yourself and others allows you to shift your attention, your intention, and your actions. Instead of being mired in the past, you can focus on inviting new beginnings into your life.
“The best way to find out what we really need is to get rid of what we don’t.” ~ Marie Kondo
The past is over. We can’t alter it. But, once we acknowledge it, we can honor it. By honoring it, we honor ourselves. When we honor ourselves, we pave the way for letting go and moving forward.
Coming to terms with the past in order to move forward is not always easy, but it’s definitely worth it . . .and so are you!