Lisa Hess considers the situations where radically purging our stuff is not the best option.
Recently, a colleague of mine who is moving wrote about having to go hard-line on her sorting and tossing. While she was kind enough to give my book, Know Thyself, a shout-out for all things organizing and storage, she felt she needed something more brutal for her current situation.
That got me to thinking. Am I too laid-back when it comes to "let it go"? In my book and in my posts, I tend to favor something gentler than LET IT GO! because, like so many other organizational conundrums, it's a process.
But the truth is that "Let it Go!" exists on a continuum. The gentle approach is often best for my I love stuff friends who need someone who understands how much their things mean to them (and why). Most of the time, they need an approach that acknowledges that hard-line is simply not in their make-up.
This gentle approach can also help those going through challenging life changes. After my mom died, a lot of my parents' things found their way to my (too small) house. I don't have an I love stuff personal style, but I simply wasn't in a place where I could sort through years of memories and make rational decisions. What brought me joy? Everything. Purging was simply not in the short-term game plan.
The truth is that how we Let it Go! is both situational and style-based. Downsizing? No room for gentleness because it only delays the inevitable. Parting with your child's elementary-school drawings the weekend after they move out? You might need a little processing time and a little grace (along with a hug).
In the end, most of our organizational decisions exist between these two extremes. How we approach each task depends on our timelines, our styles, and our tolerance for difficult decision-making, particularly decision-making of the emotionally laden variety.
Am I too gentle when it comes to Let it Go? I can be. But that's because it's one of the few organizational decisions that can't be undone. We rarely regret hanging on to something for too long, but the sorrow over cutting something loose prematurely can actually hamper our ability to let things go in a timely fashion as we move forward (ask me about my brown suede skirt).
If the situation calls for ruthlessness, have at it with my blessing. But if you have the time and the space, sometimes "maybe" is the best answer to "Should I keep this?" because it takes into account that letting things go, like so much else when it comes to organizing, is a process.
Copyright 2022 Lisa Hess
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About the Author
Transplanted Jersey girl Lisa Lawmaster Hess is the author of a blog compilation, three novels, and three non-fiction books, including the award-winning Know Thyself: The Imperfectionist’s Guide to Sorting Your Stuff. A retired elementary school counselor, Lisa is an adjunct professor of psychology at York College of Pennsylvania. She blogs at The Porch Swing Chronicles, Organizing by STYLE, and here at Catholicmom.com. Read all articles by Lisa Hess.