“Until we have begun to go without them, we fail to realize how unnecessary many things are. We’ve been using them not because we needed them but because we had them.” ~Seneca
Thinking you’ll clean out the drawer of utensils, you panic at the thought of giving up that egg separator. You’ve never used it, but who knows when you might decide you need it? Or maybe you choose to clean out the toolbox. Six Phillips and eight flatheads, several the same size, might be a bit too many, don’t you think? Removing the duplicates is a frightening proposition. After all, who’s to say that you won’t lose a screwdriver and be glad you already have the replacement? Going through the coat closet with more winter coats than you can wear in a season, the conversation will be much the same. What if you need something? A better question is, what if you don’t?
A couple of years ago, I emptied my closet of all but two pairs of pants and three shirts. For one month, I wore this limited wardrobe. At the end of the month, I knew I had discovered a way of dressing that I enjoyed. (I’ll apologize if I’ve shared this before, but it was so meaningful) Just as when I’ve stayed with relatives for an extended time with only a few of my personal belongings, I discovered the freedom that having less can provide. All these years, I had been wearing them because I had them, not because I really needed them. Think about that with respect to things in your own life.
1. consent; authorization.
The number one reason we don’t want to let go of the clothes we will never wear, the books we’ll never read, the toys we’ll never play with, is a perceived lack of permission (according to reports I’ve found). Apparently, we are waiting for someone to authorize our disposal of items. Does that sound familiar? What if someone said to you, “I hereby authorize the removal of any items you don’t enjoy using on a regular basis.”? Would you be more willing to go from 10 saucepans to 3? If we changed the thinking, we might modify the action. Instead of saying, “Do I have to get rid of 7 saucepans,” we might ask if it’s ok to get rid of those extras. Maybe believing that we have been granted permission would change many parts of our lives.
Experts say that when we are trying to lose weight, our thinking is backward. Change the verbiage, and we might discover a new freedom. “You have permission to let go of the extra weight” is more liberating than “you need to get rid of those pounds.” What if you were to be granted permission to change your thinking about people who weigh you down or the extra baggage you’ve been mentally carrying?
Permission frees us from the guilt we have felt for not hanging on to the things we’ve acquired.
Do you have clothes you’ll never wear again, decorative items that crowd your space, multiple tools for the same job? You have permission to donate them to someone who has less. You have permission to get rid of the items that aren’t working for you — you have permission to allow someone else to enjoy the things that are sitting in your closets and cupboards and drawers.
Seneca is right. We don’t realize how unnecessary many of the things in our lives are until we don’t have them. We use things because we have them, but not because we need or love them. It might go for some of the people in our lives, as well, but that’s for another conversation. For today, I authorize you to let go of the things you don’t need and allow yourself to enjoy a new simplicity of life with the people and things you keep.