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Letting Go of What No Longer Serves

by Susan DeLorenzo

It’s no secret that clutter in our homes and work spaces can be a great source of stress in our lives and even in our thinking. When our home and work space are in order, we are able to think more clearly and accomplish more in less time than when sitting among disorder. When too much stuff is lying around, we fall prey to clouded thinking or encumbered decision-making, and we tend to second-guess ourselves more.

We often look regretfully at a stack of papers or something else, but the fevered pace of our daily lives keeps us from taking care of it in that moment. Instead, we promise ourselves we will clean up and organize later, until our many unkept promises make us feel like we need a week off from all other commitments to free ourselves from the tangled web we’ve created.

One gradual approach to freeing ourselves from clutter is to pick a particular room to tackle and each night pull one item to give away. At the end of a week or two, take the collected items to one of the many organizations that accept them. Amazon even offers to ship unwanted items to Goodwill when re-using their boxes.

There is another form of clutter that also requires clearing in order to move about our lives freely: the negativity we allow to roll around inside us. Self-criticism, held grudges and replayed hurts are examples of negative emotional “stuff” that impedes our freedom and takes our mind away from what is life-giving. Granted, it’s easier to give away unwanted clothing or knick-knacks than it is to release negative ways of thinking about ourselves or others, but allowing these thoughts to remain gets in the way of happiness.

To release the unseen emotions that hold us back, begin by taking note of such negative thought patterns. We’ve given them free reign for so long that we’ve hardly noticed them anymore—up until now. Catch the negative self-talk and criticisms and list them. Notice the grudges and hurt we continue to hold on to. Then, like the exercise above, select one thing and address it. Break the pattern of thinking by hitting pause on the unwanted thought (like a recording, which in a way it has become in our head) and replace it with a positive, self-affirming thought.

This takes continued and dedicated practice. To further support one’s efforts, it’s good to praise ourselves for accomplishments, however small. Creating a new and more expansive pattern brings self-appreciation and self-acceptance. Similar work can be done in re-structuring our thoughts surrounding grudges and holding on to hurt. When self-praise replaces self-criticism, and releasing offenses through forgiveness becomes second nature, we feel lighter and less burdened with internal stuff.

Letting go of what no longer serves us is a great exercise for our physical and mental environment. Both serve clarity of thought and overall well-being. Baby steps can often lead to massive changes.

Susan De Lorenzo is a certified transformational life coach, speaker and author of the upcoming book, Thank You, Cancer. For more information, visit SusanDeLorenzo.com.