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letting goSome things are hard to let go of. Many memories last a lifetime, for better and worse. Numerous friends populate our lives, even when some no longer serve a positive purpose. Even clothes hang around for the sake of memory or an imagined future wear, when they no longer fill a relevant place in our closets or our lives. Although it can be seemingly impossible to discard clothes–let alone people and memories–sometimes it’s in our best interest to do so.

The challenge lies in figuring out what, and perhaps who, must go. The solution lies in mindful evaluation of the people and things that inhabit our lives. What do they contribute? What do they take away? How do they empower me? How do they disempower me? How do they help me? How do they hinder me? These are but a few of the questions we can ask ourselves to identify the good and the bad in our lives.

It’s inevitably up to us to know who we are, what we want, and where we are going. If we haven’t meaningfully considered such things, it’s never too soon or too late to do so. Such considerations involve challenge in their own right, but self-evaluation is necessary to understand the who, what, and where of ourselves. They also enable us to perceive whether or not someone or something is holding us back from being our better–if not our best–selves, and they empower us to identify who or what we’d be better off without.

You might even be ahead of the game? Perhaps you already identified one or many people or things to let go? If you’re hesitant, you may have good reason(s). It can be as simple (or hard!) as creating a final “pro” and “con” list to cement or reverse your decision. Yet, you may have not-so-good reason(s) as well. Using myself as an example, I sometimes let certain people and things overstay their welcome because they provide a sense of familiarity, stability, or comfort. Not so bad, right? Well, the truth of the matter is that sometimes the familiar, stable, and comfortable are anything but–sometimes they are stumbling stones in the way of us being our best selves.

This isn’t to say that it’s easy to let go even when you play the identification game. Goodness knows I’m proof positive of this fact. A good “for instance” in the realm of clothes relates to how long I held on to several pairs of acid-washed jeans in the name of utility. Another, in the realm of friends, relates to how long I overlooked someone’s racist tendencies in the name of friendship. Yet another, in the realm of memories, relates to how I still remember, relive, and fume over moments of my past that I’ve supposedly forgiven and released.

Yes, the clothes only took up a bit of closet space, but they served no purpose. I finally donated them (with a bit of encouragement from my partner) and surely someone else will find their use. The friend, however, negatively influenced my thoughts and actions and was the cause of much upset over time. I let go of that friendship and have become a much better person as a result. Last, but far from least, the memories conjure and recreate remnants of past hurts, headaches, and heartaches in my present life, and undermine my peace of mind and enjoyment of life moving forward. I am still–if not endlessly–doing my best to let go of such memories, but the mind is a wily beast. Perhaps with time and effort I’ll tame it. Perhaps not. This doesn’t mean I’ll stop trying. Or stop being mindful of who and what I allow into my life. Or stop evaluating and reevaluating the positives and the negatives of these many people and things.

Mindfully consider who you are, what you want, and where you are going. Actively consider who and what you surround yourself with. If someone or something negative needs letting go, do so knowing you will be a better person as a result. You’ll be less encumbered by what you don’t need in your life and more open and able to enjoy the many things you do. Inevitably, we stand in our own way when we don’t let go of such things. Give it a try and you will likely free up some much-needed closet space. You may even create more space and more positivity in your life. Fingers, toes, and (possibly) eyes crossed, you might just empower your best self. The next step is yours.

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