Have you ever lain awake at two o’clock in the morning, feeling stressed and overwhelmed because your dreams are not being accomplished? Do you constantly remind yourself that you have made mistakes in the past? Do you worry about whether or not you are making the right decisions about your life? You can spend hours writing down desires and wants. You can tell friends about your dreams. However, until you change your internal conversation and create a clear picture of your future, until you are prepared to let go of the stuff that keeps you stuck in a rut, the outcome will remain the same.

What is “stuff”? Stuff is dwelling on mistakes you have made in the past, being angry at someone who did something to you in the past, being afraid to enter into a new relationship because you got hurt in a previous one, worrying about your health at age 50 while you are still 35 . . . I could go on and on. Stuff is the unspecified, intangible, often negative element we introduce into our minds through our words, thoughts, or some other outside stimulation. When we don’t focus our thoughts effectively, they can become scattered, miscellaneous, and fixated on stuff that can lead to negative notions, toxic relationships, and fear of taking risks. Stuff will find its way into your life regardless of who you are, how much money you make, and what your status is in life. This stuff keeps us from moving forward with our lives. This is the stuff that we need to let go, and quickly.

How do you let go of stuff? It begins with a commitment to yourself, a commitment to your dreams, and a belief that you deserve to have what you want out of life. That having been said, please remember the old adage that you don’t get what you want out of life, you get what you are out of life. Therefore letting go begins with deciding who you want to be, then creating a plan to be that person—no matter what! Making that commitment is critical.

Many people believe that changing hairstyles, clothes, jewelry, and the like will make a significant difference in their unwanted habits. Some people think that changing jobs, moving from city to city, and making new friends will bring long-term internal change. These kinds of activities will make some difference, but any difference will be short-lived. In order to make long-lasting changes and to effectively let go of stuff in your life that keeps you from moving forward, an inside out approach to letting go is necessary, along with two important tools: the mirror and time.

In order to let go of unwanted habits and actions, it is important to take the time to get to know yourself. Until you take that genuine look in the mirror and recognize yourself, it will be difficult to let go of those unwanted habits and actions. Time is your friend when it comes to letting go of stuff in your life. As long as you realize that it will take time, and you have a plan, then letting go and moving forward can happen for you.

The first step in the process of letting go of stuff is to acknowledge that you have stuff. Acceptance of the stuff in your life is key, just as is acceptance of anything you want to change. Before remodeling a home, for example, you must first accept its current condition. After taking inventory, you can then make plans to remodel. The same is true for making long-lasting, inside out changes in your life: you must first take inventory of the stuff that is keeping you from making those changes. Taking inventory will help you to bring about acceptance of the stuff in your life.

To gain acceptance, we must be willing to do something else that is critical—forgive. Forgiveness is what lies between acknowledging and accepting the stuff in your life. One key to forgiveness is to identify the perpetrator and the victim, who are often one and the same because we are often our own worst enemy. Once you have forgiven yourself, it makes it easier to continue the process of letting go. Forgiveness allows you to be able to move from a place of pain and suffering to one of peace and harmony. Have you ever actually forgiven yourself?

Here are a few questions and actions to assist with the process of forgiveness as you begin to let go of stuff.

1.Make a list of those you need and would like to forgive (don’t be afraid to include yourself on the list).

2.Give yourself permission to forgive by making a claim that you can forgive those listed.

3.Forgive yourself! The process of forgiving must begin with forgiving yourself.

4.Contact each person on your list, and genuinely say, “I forgive you for what happened in the past.” By forgiving them you release yourself.

5.Ask them to forgive you, and accept their responses regardless. It does not matter whether or not you agree with them. You must be willing to simply accept where they are right now when it comes to them forgiving you. They may not be ready, and remember, you must accept this.

Now that you know where to put your energy, focus your efforts, and how to begin to choose to let go of the stuff that interferes with moving forward in life, I challenge you to get started today. Your destiny is in your hands. Creating the life you want is totally up to you. Letting go of stuff will put you on the path to redesigning your life. Best of luck to you, and remember that long-lasting change and truly letting go only happen when done from the inside out.

** This article is one of 101 great articles that were published in 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life. To get complete details on “101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life”, visit http://www.selfgrowth.com/greatways.html

Author's Bio: 

Darren L. Johnson, MSOD, is an organization development consultant and author of Letting Go of Stuff: Powerful Secrets to Simplify Your Life (InsideOut Learning, Inc.). Using researched theory on change and various philosophies as a foundation for a step-by-step process for letting go, he also offers one-on-one coaching for those interested in successfully letting go of stuff in their lives and has helped thousands since 1994. To learn more, visit the publisher’s Web site at http://www.LettingGoOfStuff.com.