The Burden of Too Much

“In the end these things matter most: How well did you love? How fully did you live? How deeply did you let go?” – Buddha

I struggle desperately to let go. I hold on to everything. Every passing moment, every memento, every card, every relationship – even those gone bad. I hold on too tight fearing that if I let go, even a little bit, I’ll have nothing left. But maybe letting go isn’t about losing.

I hear all too often when speaking of minimizing the sentiments along the lines of: “I could never do that,” or “That’s not for me.” I reacted the same way when my husband spoke of this new lifestyle. But what we don’t know is that we’re all experts at letting go. After all, our training started early. From our birth onward, every moment has prepared us to let go, deeper and deeper. From letting go of our dependence on our mothers, to children starting and finishing school and to finally adults entering the real word.

We let go of our parents and siblings to build families of our own. We let go of our children as they learn and grow and venture out. We let go of acquaintances and friends along the way. We let go of materials as they wear out and age.

One day, we’ll have to let go of everything. Our possessions, our titles, our loved ones, and all that is left behind is our legacy.

It’s terrifying, devastating and completely humbling to think that one day it will be over. So when I find myself comparing, overthinking or getting caught up in the opinion of others this realization helps me let go all over again.

So perhaps as we’re rushing from one thing to the next, we can stop and stand still for a moment to focus on what really matters.

That instead of being one of many people snapping selfies, trying to take that perfect shot, we embrace the quiet beauty of the day. We pause for a moment to take it in – the fresh ocean air, the sound of the waves, the feel of the warm sand between our toes.

We put away the phones and enjoy the moment.

Starting decluttering

I spent the last week cleaning out closets full of toys, clothes and books when it finally clicked. Minimalism is about letting go so we can bring something much deeper, more satisfying and infinitely more beautiful into our lives.

After giving away garbage bags full of stuff, I felt my heart lighten and sighed with relief. I kept going back to the cleaned-out closets, shelves and pantry to soak in the feelings of freedom and ease.

Cleaned out closet

Perhaps we hide behind our stuff so we don’t have to deal with the raw, deep emotions that lie beneath the surface. We feel these emotions come up from time to time but as we move from one thing to the next they lay buried. Maybe behind another new item, new trend or new social media post. If we let go of all of that, we’ll have to face head-on whatever is lying beneath – the fear, the lack, the pain. Possibly, the feeling that we’re living a life that isn’t true to who we are.

“Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about unbecoming everything that isn’t really you, so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.” – Unknown

So I have given myself permission to be me. I don’t have to be the perfect mother, wife or daughter. I only have to be me and that’s enough. It’s okay to say no to the obligations, pressures and expectations placed on me. It’s okay for me to chase after my dreams. I don’t need to hold on to things – I only need to hold on to who I am and who I want to be.

From grasping to giving

My tendency is to grasp on to every little thing so I can relive the beauty of moments past but it’s not the things that make my life beautiful, it’s the people in it. And I want to focus more on that than anything else. No longer do I want to measure my worth with what I have. I want to measure it with what I give. What I give to my girls, my husband, my family and my friends. What I give to myself, to my colleagues, to strangers and those only crossing my path but briefly.

I think about all the material things I have given and received. But I have started to reconsider giving stuff. Stuff that I have spent hours cleaning out and organizing. Stuff that I spend time putting away and tidying up each night. Stuff that’s taking up too much space in my life.

My heart tells me there has to be a better way. So every day I continue to lighten my load, and this year I hope I can fill it with the only things that matter – love, presence and kindness.

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