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Do you have trouble letting go? Why is it so hard sometimes to get rid of things? I’ve found there’s one key reason why we can’t let go. Let me explain by sharing a little of my own experience.
Several years ago I found myself in a tough position financially. I had been a stay-at-home mom to four kids ages 7 and under when I became a single mom wondering how to provide for those four little ones. I have a college degree, so you would think it wouldn’t be too hard, but it proved to be tougher to get back into the workplace than I had imagined.
We lived on the outskirts of a large metropolitan area, so most of the job possibilities were at least 30 minutes away. I had two in elementary school and two at home, which meant full-time care for two and before/after school care for the other two. (In case you haven’t looked recently, childcare is expensive!) Unless I found a well-paying job, I would work full-time only to pay all my earnings to various childcare workers.
Needless to say, it was a time of squeezing. I had to get the most value out of everything we had. We were blessed in so many ways during that time, and I am thankful for those who reached out to help us.
Often people tried to help by giving us things they thought we might need, or things we “maybe” could use. I found myself accepting their generosity every time. And when I sorted through closets and cupboards, I found I couldn’t part with much of anything. Why? Because I might need it later, and I might not have the money to replace it if I got rid of it now.
So we began to accumulate stuff.
Some time later, we moved into town and into a smaller house. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to part with much during the move, so all that stuff came along. Cabinets and closets were quickly filled, and I faced needing more storage, and definitely needing more space. We felt like sardines!
We’ve now been in our house for over four years. Our circumstances have changed and our financial situation is not quite as scary as it once was. But in reflecting on this journey we’ve taken, I’ve finally realized what happened. I did some digging into clinical hoarding (although thankfully our situation did not get to that point!), and I can confidently say, I get it.
Scientific studies are still being done, but don’t worry — I won’t start talking about the DSM-V and the relationships it lists between hoarding and OCD or anything like that. At a very basic level, I want to share with you the number one reason we have trouble letting go. That could be letting go of stuff, it could be letting go of people, it could be letting go of control… Why do we hold on so tightly?
Plain and simple, we are afraid. If I have two blenders and I only use one, I should store the other one because the current one might quit working, and I might not have the money to replace it. If I let my kids go (wherever), they might be influenced by the wrong crowd and get themselves into a hard spot. If I make this decision, I might choose the wrong thing… Perhaps we are afraid of the decision itself, so rather than choosing, we simply ignore it and hope the need for deciding to let go will disappear or resolve itself.
Fear can be paralyzing, can’t it? It adds even more weight to our shoulders, keeping us from moving forward and creating stress in our lives.
Our bodies weren’t made to handle that kind of stress. We have to let go of that fear and worry. I know that can be easier said than done, but it can be done! We can live in peace, rather than fear of the what if.
If you can relate to this struggle with letting go, please know that you are not alone. Neither is your situation hopeless! Acknowledging the fear behind the struggle is the first step to working through it. See, you’re already on your way. 🙂