Cleaning Out My Closet

Why do some people hold onto things when others can't seem to let go fast enough?
06/17/2013 04:16 pm ET Updated Aug 17, 2013

My mother was a hoarder. Still is. Full house; four full storage units. So many boxes that she doesn't know what's in them.

Perhaps that's why I am a perpetual spring cleaner. It's at its worst this time of year. The flowers start blooming and I suddenly want to get rid of everything I no longer need. And even some of the stuff I do.

If my family had ever ended up on one of those reality TV shows where organizers come clean out your house, my mother would have put everything in the keep pile and I'd have put everything in the toss pile. I wonder why that is? Why do some people hold onto things when others can't seem to let go fast enough?

Then I realized all of these "things" to my mother are memories. It's almost like she fears if she gets rid of the things she's holding onto, she'll forget those memories. I, on the other hand, am not the type of person who needs to see or hold things to remember. I'm not saying one type of person is better than the other; we're just different.

You see, I hold onto things too; just not material things. As Michael Dooley said in The Secret, "Thoughts become things." But like too many possessions, sometimes we should let go of some of the things we've thought: negative thoughts about our loved ones, arguments with our spouse, grudges and resentments. I'd love to be the type of person that could "turn the other cheek," but I'd be lying if I said I was. I'm not. On the contrary, I tend to be the type of person that remembers things far too long after their meaning has been served.

My husband has complained about this on more than one occasion. He's more of the "live and let live" type of guy, while I tend to be the "remember 15 years ago when you said..." type of girl. This is a fault of mine, one that I fully own up to. But it's time to make a change. Time to let go and let love.

So this spring (what's left of it), my spring cleaning is going to consist of letting go of a few bitter feelings and resentments, thoughts that no longer serve. I'm not saying we should just forget about our past; we can't, it made us who we are today. But I am saying that with those past memories should come a heavy dose of forgiveness: for ourselves and for those we feel have wronged us somehow. Only when we forgive, can we truly let go; only when we forgive, can we truly move on. And perhaps the most important person I need to forgive is myself - for holding onto all of those resentments and bitter feelings in the first place. I'm only human, after all...

So here is my spring cleaning mantra this year: "I forgive you." What's your mantra?

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