A woman mentioned that she often got stuck on letting go of things she no longer liked or used because of how much she originally paid for them. She mentioned a sweater that she bought for $30. She said she loved it when she made the purchase, wore it twice, and lost interest in wearing it again. She said, “But I spent $30 on it!!”
I said that our culture places importance on the monetary value of things. You hear about, with a tone of awe, how a Van Gogh sells for $66 millions dollars, and a Ferrari goes for $3 million dollars, or how a particular actor gets paid $20 million dollars a movie. As a result, we equate value with what something costs. But the only true value is if you like and use something, if it supports your life. I said that since the sweater no longer did that, it had zero value for her.
Someone asked about hanging on to things that she no longer needed because of the fear that she might need it at a later time. I said that she might as well own one of everything in the world because she might one day need it. That got a good laugh from her. I said that it doesn’t feel good to live in a warehouse of what we don’t need. The presence of things we don’t like and use creates a feeling of stagnation in our lives. So if we’re living in that deadening environment, amidst the feeling of fear, we suffer. I said there’s a great peace that comes from letting go of what we don’t need. That peace is the opposite of fear, and it’s what’s most satisfying.
Another person talked about how overwhelming her clutter situation felt to her. She said she had no idea how to begin approaching the problem. I said that’s a normal feeling about being stuck amidst clutter. What can help is to ignore the big picture, and pick a small doable area. If we’re feeling like it’s too much, that means we have less capacity at that moment. The kind and tender thing to do for ourselves at that time is to pick a small amount of things to go through that we can handle. And to set a timer for a half-hour, or an hour. Then pick up one thing at at time, and with tenderness, ask, “Do I like and use this, or can I let it go?” Ask and inquire with compassion. Then when the time is up, stop, and continue later at a time that feels kind to you. In this way of recovery, you learn how to be special with yourself. It’s a great skill to learn.