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5 Ways to Make Letting Go of Your Stuff Easier

5 Ways to Make Letting Go of Your Stuff Easier

Have you been struggling to let things go in your life? Fall is the perfect time of year to release things from your environment.


Autumn is my favorite time of year. I love pumpkin-flavored anything, the New England foliage takes my breath away and I'm partial to boots and scarves over shorts and sandals. There are many seasonal quotes I'm fond of related to the fall season, but this one sticks out for me:

The trees are about to show us how lovely it is to let the dead things go.



Of course, this got me thinking about our clutter and the ability to get rid of things. Don't get me wrong, it can be HARD to part with your belongings whether you're tossing them in the trash, donating them to a charity, or even passing them along to a friend or family member. But so often people keep things past their prime for one reason or another.


I've come up with 5 ways to make the process of letting go a bit easier:


1. Do a victory lap

I can't remember where I first came across this expression, but I LOVE it! The idea is to have a last hurrah with your item before parting with it. It's like giving it a little going away send-off. Wear that frilly dress stuffed in the back of your closet one more time for a night on the town or throw a fancy dinner party with those dishes that were your grandmother's but just don't go with your style. You get the idea.


2. Write a break-up letter

This is an idea I heard from Courtney Carver, a minimalist, and creator of Project 333 for creating capsule wardrobes. When something no longer serves you for whatever reason (it's me not you!), put pen to paper and write it out. Recap the great times you had with your belonging or the memories you'll have because of it, but let it down gently. You could then save the letter for a period of time before you're good and over it.


3. Take a picture

You've probably heard this frequently, but a picture of a 3ft vase is a heck of a lot easier to store than the vase itself. Having an image of the item is sometimes all someone needs to be able to let the physical object go. You could even create a scrapbook or photo album of similar things. This would be good if you have parents or relatives who are downsizing and there are memories connected with furniture and decor, but no one needs another chair, couch or mirror. You could photograph specific items and then record your memories or funny stories alongside the picture in the book.


4. Create a shrine

When you have a large grouping of items or even a collection instead of keeping the whole kit and caboodle, choose some key pieces and create a little shrine to honor the memory. I once read about a retired teacher who had boxes of old textbooks, professional awards, student papers, diplomas, etc. He chose a few key pieces including his favorite red correcting pen and created a little homage to his life as an educator and was able to let the rest go.


5. Say thank you

This concept comes from the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. She is a Japanese professional organizer who believes that you should express thanks to an item when you're getting rid of it as a way to show gratitude for the purpose it served in your life. In Japanese the word for thank you is "Arigato" and I've seen many a video of her bowing her head to items and uttering this simple phrase. It's a nice way to acknowledge what the item meant to you and its usefulness. Ie: Thank you ratty winter coat for keeping me toasty warm at countless hockey games while cheering on my son.


I leave you with another fall-related quote:

Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons. 

-Jim Bishop


Remember that letting go can be difficult at first but the more you release items you no longer need from your life, the richer you'll feel as you surround yourself with the things you truly love, use and cherish.


What will you release this season?




Categories: Motivation, Home Organizing


  • What a beautiful and creative list of letting go ideas. This is something that my clients typically are challenged with. Much of the challenge starts in their head. Having someone (like an organizer or trusted family or friend) to help ask a few key questions during the editing process can also help that letting go process. And that feeling of releasing is so very freeing that letting go often encourages more letting go. I agree with Seana that excercising that letting go muscle is key. The more you do it, the stronger you get.
    11/7/2016 6:10:34 PM Reply
    • @Linda Samuels: You're so right that the challenge often starts in the head, Linda! Having support and a few helpful suggestions can make the letting go process easier.
      11/7/2016 7:52:23 PM Reply
  • Lovely list of ways to let go, Sarah! Also, some clients feel a sense of relief once the perfect recipient (charity, friend, recycle bin, etc.) is identified for the item. I encourage them to NOT be too stuck on "perfect" because it can lead to procrastination (i.e. I haven't donated those towels yet because I want them to go to a dog shelter and my work schedule conflicts with their open hours...or, I don't have "enough" of them to make the trip), I'm just saying it helps.
    11/7/2016 12:16:59 PM Reply
    • @Hazel Thornton: I couldn't agree more with you, Hazel. Once you make the decision to let something go, follow through as soon as possible or else you'll get hung up on the details and end up driving it around in your car for 6 months! Lol.
      11/7/2016 7:50:23 PM Reply
  • I take pictures of sentimental items for my clients during the purging process. The idea of writing a break-up letter to an item is so creative. I could see speaking it out loud to a garment or item as I place it in a donation or trash bin. I think my clients would get a good chuckle over reciting a 'Dear John' letter to a coat, collection of karate trophies, or an ex-boyfriend's sweater. Takes the sadness away and replaces it with a fun way to say 'goodbye.'
    11/7/2016 11:10:48 AM Reply
    • @Stacey Agin Murray: That's great that you're diligent about photographing items for your clients. I can imagine some people's break up letters could get pretty silly, but like you said, humor can be so helpful in making a difficult situation easier.
      11/7/2016 7:48:42 PM Reply
  • I love this. The idea of doing a victory lap is my favorite. I wonder if this would be great for kids. What do you think?
    11/7/2016 9:32:57 AM Reply
    • @Sabrina Quairoli: Yes! I could see this working well with kids - kids of a certain age though. Sometimes when children play with/use something again, they get reattached to it and it might be harder to release the item.
      11/7/2016 7:45:29 PM Reply
  • The victory lap is new to me too - it sounds like a fun way to let go of something. I can't see myself writing a break-up letter or saying thank-you to something though.
    11/7/2016 9:08:14 AM Reply
    • @Janet Barclay: The victory lap is a fun concept. Let me know if you try it sometime, Janet.
      11/7/2016 7:42:09 PM Reply
  • I also think once you begin letting go, it gets easier. Clients who truly struggled in the beginning have found the process more peaceful as time has gone on. Also, sometimes we come across something they initially felt they needed to keep, but after decluttering for awhile, they no longer feel compelled to keep it. Seeing the payoff for letting go is very motivating, so great advice.
    11/4/2016 12:20:05 PM Reply
    • @Seana Turner: I completely agree, Seana. The more you release things from your life the easier it becomes. It's kind of like a muscle, the more you work it, the easier it is to operate and the better you'll feel keeping you and your home in shape!
      11/4/2016 2:11:27 PM Reply

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