Many years ago, I began to let go of loads of material possessions that I no longer used. I have kept a steady pace and am now almost down to the basics (I still have some pretty substantial piles of paper that I am avoiding.) I am almost ready to enter a maintenance phase for stuff; however, I have realized I have only scratched the surface on letting go of what keeps me from fully experiencing joy.
I was recently listening to a podcast of the Minimalists where callers discussed what they had recently let go. I was expecting comments about letting go of clothing, collectibles, gadgets and maybe even sentimental items, but I was surprised as they spoke of non-material things like a toxic relationship, an unfulfilling job, and the need for affirmation.
I had not thought about decluttering my life of non-material things that bring me down, things that fracture relationships, things that keep me from living a very full and intentional life.
Ann Voskamp writes in her book, 1000 Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, states, “Humbly let go. Let go of trying to do, let go of trying to control….let go of my own way, let go of my own fears.” This made me think… what can I start to let go of in my life that will strengthen me, cultivate relationships, add value to my life, and increase the joy in my life.
Everyone has different obstacles and carries a different load but here are 4 things I want to focus on letting go….
- Worry – Like many people, I tend to worry about things I can’t change or control. This seems very counter productive because I could spend the time used up worrying to do things I can change and control. The serenity prayer, used in many 12 step programs sums this up! “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” When I have a firm grip on worry, I can’t open my hands to receive something amazing.
- Selfish anger – This is when I find myself getting angry at my family when I have to do extra work, am inconvenienced or I don’t get my way (yes, I’m 47 and still find myself having some temper tantrums that would put a toddler to shame). The book, Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses has been especially helpful in helping me identify triggers (e.g., exhaustion, guilt, noise, backtalk, over-stimulation, etc.) and begin to overcome them. I love that the authors included a short prayer for each trigger.
- Comparisons – Dr. Seuss said, “Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive that is you-er than you!” The Bible tells us that God had a purpose for each of us even before we were born. We all have a specific look, personality traits, and skills for a specific purpose. Rachel Hollis, in Girl, Wash Your Face, says,”We are doing pretty good – and pretty good is way better than trying to fake perfection any day of the week.” I don’t have to exhaust myself swimming upstream to try and fake a life planned for someone else because one is already planned for just me! You know, when I look around with gratitude at what I do have, it’s all pretty awesome.
- Procrastination – Sometimes my procrastination is a product of another obstacle such as worry or comparisons. Many times I don’t move forward because I worry it will be too hard, it won’t be good enough or I might fail. I’m quoting Rachel Hollis again, “Every year you close a new chapter in your story. Please, please, please don’t write the same one seventy-five time and call it a life.” I can tell you that while I still struggle with procrastination, when I have been brave and worked toward a goal I have been pleasantly surprised with the outcome (my first publication!) or I have learned something valuable.
So I have my work cut out for me…..I need to release my grip on things I can’t change like the past and what other people think because I have a great life to live – mine! I need to move forward and focus on the things I can change….the future, how I react when things don’t go my way, and what I DO!!
I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions if you have found ways to let go of obstacles that hold you back.
Next up: Setting goals!!