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Shift your mindset to let go of attachments

Updated: May 28

Why do we keep so much stuff? Why don’t we recycle the sweater that has holes? Why don’t we throw away the kitchen gadget that doesn’t work? Believe it or not, we don’t throw these things away because we’ve grown attached to them. And letting go of attachments is one of the most difficult challenges people face.

You can attach to anything. Clothes, books, technology, people, even a souvenir from a trip you took ages ago. We all attach to things differently. And it’s something we can’t always control.

This may be why you’re against decluttering. You know it means letting go of certain items you’re attached to. If we don’t learn to let go of things that no longer serve us, we’re only feeding the stress and anxiety bubbling beneath the surface.

Letting go of attachments that no longer serve you

So how do you learn to let go of attachments? First, you need to be realistic. You’re not going to purge every single item you own. If you attach easily, you’re more than likely attached to your entire home.

That’s ok. No one is saying you need to get rid of everything. Let’s take a step back. Let’s start with something small and easy.

Go to your fridge. Open the door. Do you see anything in there that’s expired? What about any leftovers you know you’re not going to eat? You’ve done this plenty of times before. This isn’t new. But before you toss it in the garbage, I want you to hold the item in question. Take a moment to feel how your body reacts. You know this is going in the trash. Every fiber of your being is telling you so. Basically, this reaction is your mind and body teaming up to tell you this item no longer serves you. It’s ok to let it go.

Remember that feeling.

Now that you’ve done something fairly easy, let’s move on. Go to your closet. Take out every item of clothing you have and put it on your bed or on the floor. If you feel that’s too much, start with tops. Working through each item at a time, ask yourself: Does this still serve me?

To get more specific, ask:

  • Does this fit me?

  • Does it match my style?

  • When was the last time I wore it?

If you’re holding onto a dress you wore on the first date with your ex or it was worn to a loved one’s funeral, the sentimental attachment is high. Letting go of that is going to be hard.

So how do you do it? You let yourself recall the memory. Know that memories are in ourselves, not our things. Things can spark memories to resurface, but they’re always there. If the dress invokes a sad memory, maybe someone out there can find a happy one to replace it.

If you need to, take a picture of the item before giving it away.

Remember that feeling when you were holding the expired food or long-forgotten leftovers? Do you feel that holding any of your clothing? If so, donate it. Sell it. Recycle it. Don’t ignore that feeling. It will guide you through letting go of attachments throughout your entire home.

Learn what it is you really need

cluttering your life of items that no longer serve you is one-half of the battle. The other is shifting your mindset so you don’t overcrowd your space again. How do you avoid this? By taking a few moments and asking yourself what do you really need?

Some common needs are:

  • Housing

  • Food

  • Transportation

And some common wants are:

  • Entertainment

  • Luxury travel

  • Specialty coffee

NerdWallet has an insightful article about distinguishing between wants and needs.

Do you work from home permanently? Then maybe you don’t need three blazers and a ton of professional office outfits. If that’s your style, by all means, keep it. But if you’re hanging onto a ton of professional clothing but don’t work in an office, you can let it go.

Do you buy a Starbucks coffee every day? Could you make a coffee at home instead? That little switch can save you hundreds of dollars each month. Don’t give up Starbucks altogether. Instead, try and get it once or twice a week rather than five or seven.

If your response is, But I need my Starbucks, that’s all mindset. You’ve misinterpreted a want for a need. It’s more common than you think. There’s a fine line between want and need. When you learn to be strategic about your needs and limit your wants, you’re going to spend less money and feel more financially secure.

We live in a society that tells you to “treat yourself.” And while there’s nothing wrong with that, people use it all the time. By all means, treat yourself, but do it intermittently.

Learning to limit treats and rewards will make them all the more sweeter when the time


The Buddhist Practice of Non-Attachment

When it comes to letting go of attachments, the Buddhist practice of non-attachment is one of the best. Non-attachment is the ability to detach yourself from things that control or affect you in a way that’s maladaptive to your wellbeing. [1] You don’t have to be a Buddhist to practice non-attachment just like you don’t have to be a minimalist to practice minimalism.

There are three types of attachment that this practice helps you break away from:

  • Material

  • Personal

  • Thought

Non-attachment isn’t about being cold or emotionally stunted. It’s about learning to let go of the thoughts and emotions that create suffering. [2]

And the benefits are amazing. You’ll feel more in control of your emotions, more spontaneous, and grounded. Your addiction to things will cease. All of this will make letting go of attachments easier.

No, you won’t learn non-attachment overnight. Even the best Buddhists need to consistently improve their spiritual growth and mindset to keep themselves from becoming attached to worldly possessions.

Non-attachment can be difficult to learn. This is especially true if you grew up in an environment where accumulating things was normal. [3] It’s hard enough to learn non-attachment when we live in a world where we’re connected 24/7. We're being sold stuff all the time. If not through ads, then through influencers we follow. Even the media provokes us to buy things used in TV and movies.

Letting go of attachments is never easy. People attach to different things. What’s easy for one may not be easy for another. I was in a similar boat.

Through yoga and the Buddhism method of nonattachment, I am able to stay grounded. I’ve taken what I learned and brought it to my organizing business. I help clients release what is no longer serving them.

Don’t think it’s impossible. And you don’t have to do it alone. Let me show you how. Contact me today and let’s chat.



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