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Hoarding - The Art Of Letting Go

Updated on May 27, 2013

Hoarding - The Art Of Letting Go

Winston Wayne Wilson

Part of experience is creating baggage. Part of wisdom is letting it go. – W. Wayne Wilson

(from upcoming book “My Two Cents”)

The state of your physical space invariably reflects your psycho-emotional space as well. Hence, if things are scattered and disorderly in your physical space, they tend to also be scattered and disorderly is your psycho-emotional space. If you are unable to filter and keep what is important and sacred in your physical space, you will also tend to be unable to filter and keep what is important and sacred in your psycho-emotional space. Hoarding creates baggage. Baggage creates more baggage. Too much baggage cripples your ability to adroitly move towards success and prosperity.

I must admit that I have seen a few hoarders who seem to be immune to cluttered, chaotic physical environments and who are able to, with the nimble genius of a mad scientist, wade mysteriously through mounds of rubbish and magically emerge with gems of brilliance. Other than these few hoarders, who appear to be descendants from the heavens, the vast majority of earthlings become debilitated, inside and out, by the practice of hoarding. They crave success, love and passion in their lives; however, the crushing weight of the hoarded baggage stymies their success.

There are two types of hoarding: visible and invisible. Visible hoarding is bad but invisible hoarding is worse. Worse because invisible hoarding tends to be the heavy psycho-emotional lifelong baggage that is harder to get rid of - you cannot just drive up a truck and start tossing stuff into a dumpster like they do on the TV show “Hoarding: Buried Alive”. Invisible hoarding in many ways is a leading indicator and visible hoarding is merely a lagging indicator. In other words, there tends to be a contagion effect where what we hoard on the inside starts to spillover on the outside.

For many of us, this invisible hoarding started at a young age when we began to collect negative messages from family members, school yard bullies, pastors, strangers, things we would read or even messages we fed ourselves. By the time we reach adulthood, our pride and self-esteem become crushed by the massive weight of the hoarded psycho-emotional baggage. We become afraid to pursue our passions, climb the ladder of success or even just standing up for ourselves and saying “No!”

Over time, the emotional baggage begins to not only clutter our hearts and minds but we start to ignore the condition of our physical space and that becomes cluttered too. Inside and out, we become quintessential hoarders.

The biggest mistake most of us make with baggage is holding on to it. When we fail to carry all our baggage like Atlas we think we are weak. Here is a quote from Herman Hesse: “Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go.”

Science might say this is a Herculean effort that is impossible for mere mortals to execute. But letting go of baggage is not about science. This is where art comes in.

We do not have to be strong enough to raise the mountain of baggage over our heads and toss them into the deep blue sea. We simply have to let go one bag a day. Even though it took a lifetime to create the baggage, if you let go one bag a day, in a year you can get rid of 365 bags, 366 in a leap year. So there is power in the practice of gradually letting go of our baggage.

Baggage can become a part of us. Part of our history. Part of our pain. It contaminates our blood. It appears in the haunting of our weathered faces and in the corners and crevices of our burdened minds. Despite the crushing weight, baggage becomes familiar to us and sometimes letting it go seems almost more painful than being buried alive by it. But let go we must. The first step to learning how to let go is to learn how to forgive. Forgive ourselves for hoarding so much baggage. When we learn how to forgive ourselves we learn the broader power of forgiveness and we start to forgive others as well. One more quote for you. This one is from Lewis B. Smedes: “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”

The second step to letting go of baggage is to learn how to filter. Everything cannot be important all at the same time. When we try to be Superman we wind up being the Joker. Therefore, each day that you wake up try not to clutter your psycho-emotional space with all your worries, fears, tasks, emails, hopes, dreams, and passions. Pick one or two things to worry about. Focus only on important emails. Take one or two steps towards achieving your biggest dream. Complete the top three to five tasks on your to-do list. You will drive yourself crazy if you try to do too much all at once while being worried about everything.

In addition, if your physical space is cluttered, try to get rid of something every day. Take some of the clothes up off the floor, give away some books, move something that is blocking a pathway, open some windows and let some fresh air in, organize some paper, pay some bills. If you do a little each day then your physical space will become less cumbersome. Also, if you are a shopaholic, get into the habit of donating something to charity every time you buy something new. Humans really don’t need that much stuff – no matter how exhilarating buying it makes you feel. Baggage tends to leave us broke.

Finally, remember that life is a journey. As you will see over this series, this is a journey where baggage is not required. Until next time, my challenge for you is to claim your baggage one by one as they come down life’s conveyor belt and then throw them as far away as possible. Once you do, you will be healthy enough to run the race towards success.


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