The Secret to Letting Go

Letting go can be difficult.

We see it when a relationship ends. We see evidence of it because of all the things we hold onto. And most obviously, we see it in children.

I babysit a boy who has Angelman Syndrome.

He has a strong grip on his toys. He doesn’t communicate by talking, so it can be difficult to take away a toy since he doesn’t understand that I’m taking it to be washed. One technique the parents showed me was that if I wanted to take away a toy, I could simply put a clean toy in front of him. As he saw and reached for this new option, he loosened his grip from the messy toy.

 

You have a new option.

 

When given the choice between having debt or being debt-free, I’m pretty sure you’d usually choose debt-free.

Cluttered room or simplified? Simplified.

Out of shape or in shape? In shape.

 

But when the choice is between making an extra payment toward a loan or having cable, many people choose cable.

A month’s worth of clothes or a week? A month.

Jog a mile or eat a bag of chips while reading a good book? Chips, please!

 

A 13-year-old I babysit gets annoyed when asked to clean her room. Once it’s clean, though, she gets annoyed when anyone messes it up. She takes special care in preserving and enjoying its beautiful state.

See, my room isn’t a mess because I don’t want it to be clean. It isn’t even messy just because I don’t want to do the work. If I see something as worthwhile, I will put in the effort. My room is messy because for years I didn’t see how keeping it clean was an option. A simplified space didn’t seem practical or realistic for me.

I don’t have enough space for my stuff.
I don’t have time to get rid of what doesn’t fit.
I want to keep my stuff.
I have more important things to do than declutter and organize.

Those were my excuses. So every day, I accepted a cluttered room. I didn’t fight it, didn’t try to have a clean room.

Just like the 13-year-old, I get annoyed when thinking I have to declutter my room. But once I get a section simplified, I get annoyed when it starts getting crowded again.

 

Loosening My Grip

Still, for the most part my grip on clutter is tight…

until I see a picture of a room on Pinterest.

Then I want to throw everything out my window. Sadly, that’s also impractical.

But at least my grip is loosened. I’ve seen another option.

I read a few articles on regular people turning into minimalists. I start to believe it’s possible for me. As I reach for this new option, I loosen my grip on clutter a little more.

 

The Secret to Letting Go

Letting go of anything is a daily choice. There is always the option to pick up the old–the clutter, the credit card, the cupcakes.

The secret to letting go isn’t just seeing, wanting, and believing you can have a better option. It’s seeing and choosing that option over and over in the little things even when that choice means giving up something you love, something familiar, something safe.

That is sacrifice. And it’s the secret to the habit of letting go. It’s knowing you gave up something good for something better.

The more you do that, the easier it will become.

You won’t see sacrifice as a drudgery but a joy, an opportunity. You won’t focus on what you lost but on what you gained.

Sacrifice

Sometimes that messy thing you gave up will return to you clean. That money you kept choosing to put toward a loan can now be put toward cable or whatever you want. That almond milk is drinkable because you’ve gotten used to it. That 1-mile run is no harder than walking used to be.

What is it that you aren’t letting go?

I don’t want to tear it from your grasp.

I just want to tell you there’s another option. Freedom.

Freedom is real.

Forgiveness is real. Paying off debt is real. Getting in shape is real.

Real people do these things everyday.

Find their stories.

It really is amazing, but these aren’t exclusive clubs. It can be you.

It will be hard, but it will be worth it. Find the stories that make you believe it is possible for you. They took steps to letting go. Follow them. Make it happen. And, if you must…and I mean only if it really helps, sing that little song from Frozen while you do it.

 

What has helped you let go of things that hold you back?

Share your secrets to letting go in the comments below.

 

This is part of a series on developing 3 habits for living tiny. Read the previous post here. And be sure to sign up for the newsletter to enjoy some freebies and reminders to live tiny!



 

5 Comments The Secret to Letting Go

    1. mcstarbuck@gmail.com

      Haha, thank God for company, right? And sometimes is helps when someone else points out a negative routine for us even though that isn’t fun. It’s also easy to deny that it’s really a problem. Good for you for allowing your wife to help you realize that maybe you should develop a new routine that works better. My prayers are with you, haha. But seriously, I hope you are able to develop the habits of gratitude, letting go, and keeping yourself motivated. It can benefit us in so many areas once we apply them.

      Reply
  1. Barbara

    Hi Megan
    I’m from Switzerland and I’m 52 years old. My english is quit poor, so I could’nt read everything of your post.
    What I could read and feel: I had (and have) the same struggles: I can’t let go stuff. And I do not have space for all the stuff I have. this is driving me crazy sinds more ore less 25 years. Before I lived alone and were able to organize my self. Then I got married with a same-chaotic man as I am. We had a girl and kept on with this problem. After divorce I never got out of this situation.
    Last year my daughter left to live abroad. And she is the same sentimental as I am. And when I saw how she had to let go stuff, throw it away or donated, I were very impressed. So: I started to declutter. If you are talking about time: I work 42 hours a week outside the house, i have 1 hour trip in the morning and in de evening and then the houskeeping is not done by then.
    I started slowly: When I do not find a place for something I give it away or I throw it away. From all nice stuff I take a picture and save it. And when I do shopping, I think first: where will I put it away at home. If I do not know, where to put it away (what closet, what drawer) I do not buy it.
    It is not easy, and I have still a long road to make. But I started to do. Not to plan, not to think, not to guess. I just do it. When I walk around my room or my house, I take something laying around and think where to put it. When there is no place I take the picture and throw it away or put it in the box on balcony for the things I donate.
    I’m not sure, if I’m in topic or off topic.
    Anyway: hugs and take care. Your soul is more important then all the nice stuff on earth.

    Reply
    1. mcstarbuck@gmail.com

      Hey, Barbara!

      Thank you for your comment. Your English is better than me with any of Switzerland’s official languages. 🙂

      You seem to have understood the post. Your story is amazing. I believe it can help many people. Thank you for sharing it with me and my readers. So much good advice. I am fortunate enough to have started this journey before I got married. If I ever do, I’m sure my husband and children will appreciate it! It took a long time to even get me to this point of wanting to change and believing I can.

      I know it takes a lot to change after practicing so many bad habits for years. I’m so glad your daughter inspired you. Now you’re both inspiring me.

      Two things stand out to me from your comment:

      “I started to do. Not to plan, not to think, not to guess. I just do it.”
      “Your soul is more important then all the nice stuff on earth.”

      I love that! I believe I will be sharing your story for years to come.

      Thanks for commenting even though you think your English is poor. You are amazing and a blessing.

      I’m sending you a hug as well. 🙂 Have a lovely day.

      Reply
  2. Sonya

    Wow, this is truly inspiring. One of my goals this year is to declutter. I have a long way to go, but I know the end result will be worth it. Do you have any advise for sentimental items such as photos and documents? I was hoping to make digital copies, but recently read something stating digital might not last.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *