Whether it’s stuff, a relationship, or a job, there comes a time when we need to let go. Part of my minimalist journey has been learning how to know when something is no longer useful. How do we decide when it’s time to let go? Try these five questions…
Before we ask questions, we need to understand why we tend to hold onto things beyond their usefulness. You may not want to hear this, but it’s an addiction. Well, maybe not exactly an addiction. But it stems from the same kind of emotional attachment that people with addictions struggle with.
We tend to hold onto things we no longer need because we falsely believe they bring us comfort or happiness. We trick ourselves into thinking we still need them. But if you haven’t worn those shoes for three years, you probably never will. If your job is causing you daily stress and unhappiness, you may not really need that job anymore.
Is It Time To Let Go? 5 Questions To Ask
- How long has the thing gone unused? When it comes to material stuff, we tend to hold onto things after they’ve served their purpose. Most generally, if something hasn’t been used in six months, it will probably never be needed again. Of course there are some exceptions for seasonal items, but if you haven’t used your 10-year-old camera in three years, you can safely assume you never will.
- Does the item, person, or situation create stress? Stress is a killer. It might not be possible to eliminate all stress from our lives, but letting go of certain things can greatly reduce your stress levels. If you have an old acquaintance that has become difficult to deal with, you might consider spending less time with that person. If your job is causing you undue stress, it might be time to look for another opportunity. If you keep banging your shin on the coffee table, let it go.
- Would your life be simpler without it? Everything we own costs money and takes up time or space. If you own more than one vehicle, you spend more money. If you own too many pairs of shoes, you’ll have clutter. Too much technology equals too much wasted time. Life is simpler with less. Be honest with yourself and you might find that you’d be better off by letting go of things that hinder your finances, space, or time.
- Are you holding onto something just because you think you should? Guilt. Often we keep sentimental items because we think we have to. We stay in unhealthy relationships because we don’t want to hurt the other person. There are times we need to put ourselves first. My mom is famous for giving me stuff I don’t really need. I used to hold onto it. Now I give it away.
- Could someone else use it more than you? I go through my belongings several times a year. When I find things that I no longer need, I consider others who might need the item. If I know someone personally, I’ll ask them if they could use something I no longer need. Otherwise, I’ll simply give the stuff to a local charity. This helps you to declutter and you help others at the same time.
Unattachment Is The Key To Letting Go
The easiest way to let things go is to understand that nothing that we own makes us who we are. This comes with practice. The more you let go, the more you’ll understand this concept. Although, I still own a moderate home with a fair amount of stuff, I’ve discovered something interesting.
When I travel, I take only a few sets of clothes, a phone, a computer, and a musical instrument. It recently occurred to me that I could actually live with not much more than that. Of course, I’d need a few household items, but much of what we own is not really needed. When we recognize this fact and we emotionally unattach ourselves from these things, we grow emotionally and spiritually.
Perhaps it’s time you do a quick inventory of your own life. Ask yourself the five questions I’ve discussed in this post to decide if it’s time to let something go.
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