Release. Release. Release.
Release the excess. Release the old habits. Release yourself from the past.
For months, I’ve been teaching those who are Sick of Being Stuck that clutter clearing is a powerful way to free themselves from that which has them stuck. We’ve talked about this process from many, many angles but we’ve never talked about what to do with the stuff once you are ready to let it go.
It’s not that I didn’t realize we needed to go here because I’ve been trying to write this article for five months. In fact, this is the third version I’ve written this week. This topic is so important, the final line between releasing and not, between taking back your life and not. It’s been hard to write about the fine line between taking any action to get you moving again and being responsible about the impact you have on the earth.
So, here’s the bottom line: Release as responsibly as you can bear to.
When you are paralyzed, the most important thing is that you release the stuff that no longer serves you. This will get the energy moving again. Every single item you release, puts you a bit more back in control of your life. Selling that isn’t the purpose of this article but try it. I promise that it works. It works better than everything else I’ve ever tried, regardless of what I was changing, and my students are finding the same.
There are only three reasons we ever have more stuff than space: 1. We bring in (or allow in) more stuff than our space can hold. 2. We don’t feel inclined or able to release the excess in our space. 3. We don’t know how to get the excess out of our space. If you’re stuck and sick of it and you come to my Sick of Being Stuck Program or if you’re working through this clutter clearing process alone, it’s important to address all three reasons.
For some people, those who are dreadfully stuck (I’m talking the most serious situations. See: Hoarders), all they can summon the strength to do is put the stuff in the trash can and haul it out to the curb. If that’s all you can do, do it. Do whatever you can to get started, even asking for help if necessary. As soon as you can do better (than sending everything to the landfill), do better.
For everyone who isn’t that stuck, do better now. Try utilizing some of the following more earth-friendly exit strategies.
So, what is “better” when it comes to clutter clearing? Basically, everything between keeping it in your house and putting it in the landfill is better in my book. The more care you take to put your stuff in the best possible place, the better it is.
We all know there are lots of options when it comes to bringing stuff into our homes. It’s important that we remember that there are lots of options for sending it out.
In my community, we have one parking lot with trash drop off, recycling bins, and a Goodwill truck. These options are available almost everywhere and if you donate everything you can and then recycle all you can of what remains, what ends up in the landfill will be minimal. This is the easiest, most straight-forward, almost-everyone-can-do-this approach to releasing respectfully.
There are other organizations which offer easy drop off locations and some will even pick up. I could list a bunch of them here but then you might miss out of other extraordinary organizations in your community. Do a little leg work here. Find out what the needs are in your community and do your part to meet them. I just Googled “donate stuff Nashville” and found lots of options that I didn’t even know about. You can do the same.
If you have a specific item you want to find a better home for, Google that too. For example, “donate women business clothes nashville” (adjusting, of course, for your item and your location) returns many results for local organizations that will be deliriously happy to get the clothes I no longer wear into the hands of women who need them.
Google “donate food (your city)” and unload some of the excess in your kitchen before it spoils. People all over this country are literally starving. When you release that which no longer serves you, it supports others in ways you may not be able to even imagine.
I’ve had some of the coolest one family to another clutter clearing experiences, both when people gave my family things that we needed and when we’ve given things we no longer needed to other families. Whether it’s clothing that children have outgrown, extra office supplies, or recently upgraded electronics, when I do the extra work of finding a someone who needs that exact thing… there simply isn’t a better feeling. I’m free of that thing and the other person’s need is filled, or the other way around.
There are many ways to find people who have a need for the thing you are ready to release. I’ve used Craigslist, Freecycle, and even a Facebook group set up for buying, selling, and giving away items in my community. I’ve asked friends if they needed items or if they knew anyone else who might. I’ve contacted churches. I’ve reached out to domestic violence shelters and animal shelters, they both have many specific needs and I promise that your generosity will change lives.
If you have items with historical relevance–for your family, community, or otherwise–find someone else who wants to archive them. You don’t have to be the keeper of all of the things that ever landed in your space. Try museums, schools, libraries, theaters, and anyone else who might be able to put your old stuff to use.
If you have toxic items–old paint, cleaning supplies, pesticides, etc.–or appliances or electronics, consider the best outlet for them. If they are functional, take the time to find a place or person and donate them. If they are broken, you may still be able to donate them but otherwise, dispose of them responsibly.
Lastly, because it always comes up, let’s talk about the money. Once we identify stuff we are ready to release and we’ve figured out a better way to release it, we’re afraid to do it. We’re afraid we won’t have enough to replace it, or that somebody else will have our stuff and we’ll still be broke. We are afraid, and that’s fair, but it isn’t going to help. If you can sell it, do it, get your money and move on. If you can’t sell it, on your own or with help, donate it and get the tax write off, or give it away and trust that the space you made will allow what you need to rush in.
Releasing that which no longer serves you from your physical environment will change your life. Period. So, let it go. Stop trying to manage all of this stuff and start living your life. And for those of us who claim to care about one another and the planet, can we afford to cling to stuff that no longer serves us? Are we willing to hoard resources that other people need, when we’re not using them?
When that stuff has served its purpose in your life, release it responsibly. Thank you.