Recently, I had the opportunity to help a friend go through a closet. She was a bit hesitant at first, I think wondering what I would think/feel/say going through her things (or for that matter, what she would think/feel/say watching me go through her things), but by the end of our mini-session, I think both of us felt as light as the now much more streamlined closet shelves.
It was a bit ceremonious when we opened up the sorting bags, one for “toss”, one for “donate”, plus those lucky few who landed back on the shelves in a more orderly fashion. It was the release of items that had either fully served their purpose or those that had served their purpose for this family, but still had purposeful use in them. There is something restorative in readying yourself for the send-off of “things” that may have been bringing you down even only subconsciously. It isn’t just “things” that can fill our closet shelves either – it is the baggage tied to it. It is the “That was a gift from Aunt Martha!”, or the “I always wanted to learn how to do that skill.” We see things as the representation of what we often wish we were or what we were at one point in time. Letting go can be the moment we allow ourselves to move on to something new, to recognize that life changes, as do our desires.
I think that often we get bogged down, reluctant to let go of one item or another because we fear that just when we let it go, we will realize how much we needed it! (And the chances of that if you haven’t needed it in 5+ years?) However, if the change in thought can be made from “What if I need it again?” to “Could someone else use this more than me?”, the shift focuses from the selfish to the self-less; we recognize that desire in ourselves to help others, even by giving up something for ourselves.
Set aside 20 minutes and go through that one shelf. Examine each item and ask yourself the following questions:
- Is it something I have used within the past 1-2 years and how likely am I to use it again?
- If the answer was no, is it something that holds either monetary value (and I should sell it) or does it hold a lot of sentimental value (and would a picture of the item do just as good of a job in bringing back those memories so I can free up the space)?
- Could someone else have more use for it than me?
By the end of our closet cleaning endeavor, my friend had filled up three bags with items to donate and had an entire shelf empty for the first time in years! Some of the items she no longer had use for are now wonderfully gracing my shelves and each time I see them, I appreciate the kindness that went with their sending off from her home to mine.