It's time to open up that old suitcase of yours and do some unpacking. It has sat for years in the attic and collected dust. Perhaps you thought the passage of time and a dark place would settle things? But in reality, before you can move on, you need to consciously let go. Ignoring something and letting go of it are not the same thing. You need to stare it in the face and say "goodbye."
Try this Ann Landers quote on for size: "Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it." How about you? Have you been holding on to something too long? Maybe a bad relationship? An addiction? Regrets? Unrelenting sadness?
Maybe it's time to unpack. Once and for all. Just open that suitcase or trunk and dump the contents out. Like gathering clutter and taking it to the Goodwill, it feels good to let go of stuff. To simplify.
People, places and beliefs can free us. But they can also imprison us. We must examine each and ask the question: Does this bring me joy?
Marie Kondo, author of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, suggests we use "joy" as the measurement by which we keep or discard possessions. Perhaps the same guideline applies elsewhere in our lives? Such as our relationships, careers, friendships and discretionary pursuits.
There's a chapter in Dr. Gordon Livingston's book Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need To Know Now, titled "The statute of limitations has expired on most of our childhood traumas." What the good doctor is talking about is mental unpacking. Giving in to the power of acceptance. And then moving on with your life.
Dr. Livingston knows a bit about pain. In a thirteen month period he lost his eldest son to suicide and youngest to leukemia. In another chapter of his book, Dr. Livingston teaches that "Any relationship is under the control of the person who cares the least." Think about the truth of that one. How many of us have bent over backwards trying to please someone who doesn't care so much?
The Stoics understood this stuff pretty well. Men like Seneca, Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius. In short, their view was that there are things you can change, and things you can't. Learn to take action on the things you have control over. Forget about the rest.
You can't change the past. You can't change other people much. Getting to a place of acceptance will free you. It will provide a certain clarity. Allow you to step past the anguish and regrets and see the thing as it really is. Once your mental junk is laid bare, it's not so scary. You'll find you can let it go once and for all.
Dr. Livingston has another chapter in his book titled "We are what we do." Amen to that. If you work out every day, then you are a healthy person. If you paint every day, then you are a painter. If you bitch about your life every day, then you are a complainer. You get the idea.
Yes, I know what you're going to say. "It's not that easy. Not that simple."
But it is. You just need courage.
I'm not talking about irresponsibility here. Of course we can't just immediately walk off the job because the boss is a jerk. Or abandon your relationship because it's not bringing you joy. Major changes in your life should be thought out and planned for. Responsibly.
In the end, everyone has to face his or her demons. If you want to maximize the richness in your life, best to unpack that mental suitcase sooner rather than later. Accept what you can't change. Focus on what you can. Take action.
If we are what we do, then identify who you want to be. Then start doing the things that person would do. You and you alone must define yourself. By unpacking all the "junk in your trunk" you can start living the life you always dreamed was possible. Imagine what an amazing life that would be.