(Image by Anne Dirkse)

This idea was put forth in “the life-changing magic of tidying up” by Marie Kondo. She posits that when we have trouble letting go of a possession, it is because it symbolizes an attachment to the past, a desire for stability in the future, or a combination of both.

I recently got rid of a BUNCH of clothing. I kept taking deep breaths, and asking for hugs as I was doing it. (I had assistance; I wouldn’t recommend doing it alone. I used the marvelous Michael Bruce Image Consulting .)

For about a week after, I felt an increased level of anxiety. Because I am a therapist, this made me curious.

I realized I was definitely attached to my clothing. I had lots of it, which gave me a sense of security. I was in grad school for many years…I didn’t have a lot of money, but I had a lot of clothes.

I was also worried about the future; what will I wear for different moods? What if I want to hide and wear something that helps me fade into the background? (Bruce and Bec helped me let those garments go.)

Marie Kondo states this quandary beautifully…

“It’s important to understand your ownership pattern because it is an expression of the values that guide your life. The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life. Attachment to the past and fears concerning the future not only govern the way you select the things you own but also represent the criteria by which you make choices in every aspect of your life, including your relationships with people and your job.”

I had decided I want to be more visible in the world, hence the change in attire. I was attached to not standing out, to being part of the crowd, not in the forefront. My clothing reflected that.

I decided I wanted to let go of my fears of being seen. Now my clothing makes more of a statement. How do I know? People tell me. (I’m still getting used to that.) More importantly, I walk in the world differently. I am more confident, I stand taller. Literally.

So, investigate this in your one life. Luckily, you don’t have to change your whole wardrobe. But if there is something you are holding onto, even if it doesn’t bring you joy, ask yourself “Am I having trouble letting go of this because of an attachment to the past or because of a fear of the future?”

When we let go of what we hold onto because of fear, we have more room to let in what brings us joy.

You want an easy self-help tip? Change your relationship to your possessions and change your life. Let go of what does not bring you joy.

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