Saturday, May 31, 2008

Learning to Let Go

How many of you have put off and put off sorting through a closet that you know is over-full with obsolete articles of clothing? And how many of you have agonized over whether or not to give an item of clothing away? Or pulled a garment from the give-away pile at the very last minute? One of the most challenging tasks we face in our wardrobe planning endeavors is the letting go of clothes that are no longer serving us.

Why is this? What is it about clothes, and other possessions as well, that brings up a palpable sense of loss when we think of separating from them? They are not living. They do not love us back. So what causes this and how can we work through it so that we can reach the peace of a pared down life?

Over the next few posts, I'll touch on a number of reasons for this strange phenomenon. Today I will discuss the first reason: Clothes represent an investment of our money.

You may feel that this is obvious, but there are some deeper issues involved that complicate the relationship. By spending money on an article of clothing, we've traded away the possibility of spending that money on some other thing. Deep down we worry that if it wasn't a good choice, we will have lost not only the money, but any other opportunity that that money could have bought for us. So choosing to give up an item that you've paid for can bring up these very strong feelings of isn't so much the item that we fear losing, it's the lost opportunities that we grieve. By holding onto the clothes we can attemp to keep those feelings of loss at bay --even though an unworn item has no more use to us hanging in our closet than it does on the discard pile.

How do you work through this? Acknowledge that there are lost opportunities. And that that is OK. And then remind yourself that the opportunites were lost the moment that you spent the money, not in this moment right now. Don't agonize over the money spent, or relive your decision to spend. That was in the past. Take yourself instead into the future, and how good it will feel to have everything in your closet be something you will actually wear.

Next time I will continue with the challenges in the process of letting go. See you then...same blog time...same blog channel....

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Midlife Dating Expert, Singles Workshop Conference Speaker said...

Hi Jennifer,

Sigh. Indeed, the investment of money is noticeable for me. I have a lot about The Good Times and how fab I formerly looked in it.

There is a THING I have about....
HORDING. Sort of fear of poverty thinking.

All interesting for my work as a Romance Coach and Online Dating Coach. It's all about trust and communication.

Another GREAT post, Jennifer.

All the best,

April Braswell - Online Dating Coach, Romance Coach

RobFromGa said...

This is not only true for clothes, I have the same problem with books, cds, dvds, etc.
I am able to throw away magazines luckily.
I know I will never listen or read again, yet I can't pitch them.
I have gotten into the habit of giving them away and throwing them away one at a time. It seems easier that way.
Is Your Corporation Protecting You?

Anonymous said...

We just ripped up the carpet in the spare bedrooms and replaced it with hardwood. In those closets, were hoards of clothes that have been waiting for several years to be gone through. I took them all out for the contractors, put them in boxes ... when the floor was done, I put them all back -- in item and size groupings. Even listening to my own advice on baby steps to success, I have not managed to plow through them all. I'm hoping to get thin(ner) again(!) -- I've got some really nice clothes there. Plus, I hate when I give something away (which I am fine doing) but then when I see it on someone else and really like it, I wonder why I didn't keep it. You'd be quite surprised how many still have the price tags on them ... very, very pathetic.

Jennifer Skinner said...

You'd be surprised at how very, very common this is!

Jennifer Skinner

Unknown said...

People identify with their clothing. They feel they are throwing away part of themselves. People in grief feel if they keep all the clothes they are keeping the lost loved one with them somehow. Looking forward to more of this discussion.

Sheridan Randolph

Dr Peter Helton said...

Guilty as charged. I usually take solace in the fact that I am donating them to someone who will appreciate them.
Dr Helton, making your skin beautiful without surgery

gr8skot said...

In the last few years I have gotten much better about thinning my wardrobe and bookshelves several times a year. I give my clothes to the Humane Society (both my dogs are rescued from the pound). And I sell my books and CDs on . And I still have too much stuff.

Scott A Bell

Aaron said...

I think a big part of letting go of clothes for me is time. I just always figure out something better to do, and never just go and do it. My packrat tendencies are much stronger regarding books and the like. THAT feels like a huge investment, yet I know better; you never factor in sunk cost for a decision.


Lisa M. McLellan said...

I accidentally put a new sweater in a goodwill box last year and I'm still having anxiety over it. That only increased my problem with not wanted to part with the stuff. You sooooo described me Jenn. You really know your stuff, don't you!

S Chambers said...

Sometimes it's tough to let go. We all feel a sense of loss when we do.

Steve Chambers, Sales Training Expert

Anonymous said...

I have finally downsized my wardrobe. 4 t shirts, 1 blouse, 2 capris, 2 prs. slacks, one too big, 2 sweatshirts, a fleece and a large jacket I have lost weight and need to replenish a little. I would love to have a nice skirt outfit or a simple black dress. I also have 3 prs. of shoes, underwear, a fleece hat and 2 scarves. It seems odd to remember my larger though never huge wardrobe. I have what I need, I will wear these out and replenish. I found a pair of stylish pants just last week at a thrift store. They look great, I think and are even long enough as I am a tall woman.