Sunday, December 15, 2013

Lessons in Letting Go

book cover: Lessons in Letting Go

Lessons in Letting Go: Confessions of a Hoarder tells how the author, Corinne Grant, recognized her hoarding issues, delved into the causes of that behavior, and learned to make different choices. It’s a personal story that seems to be told with wit and self-compassion. For example, this comes from the prologue:
Hoarding isn’t something anyone is aware of until it’s too late. Hoarding sneaks up on you in the middle of the night wearing dark glasses and a false moustache and weasels its way in when you’re not looking.
I say “seems to” because I didn't read the entire book, which I borrowed from its owner. However, I was quite impressed with the “Twenty-Two Lessons in Letting Go” — the last chapter of the book — which has advice that would work for many people, not just those with hoarding tendencies. Here are some excerpts:
Don’t tackle the really painful stuff first, you’ll only discourage yourself. Work up to it. You’ll find you get tougher the longer you stick with it and, eventually, you’ll build up the emotional equivalent of abs of steel.

Keep one item that reminds you of a particular time and place (your time machine) and get rid of the rest.

Don’t throw out things in anger. ... Giving away a perfectly good bedside table won’t make your ex wake in the night in a vale of tears, it’ll just leave you with nowhere to put your alarm clock. Revisit it when you’ve calmed down. You’ll probably let go of it in the end anyway, but at least you will have done it rationally.

I still have stuff that is useless of other people but means a lot to me. Most people do. Just throw out the duplicates, the stuff that is irrelevant and the stuff that make you feel miserable or guilty or angry. Throw out the stuff that doesn’t sing to you.
What may be my favorite:
Don’t let others bully you into tidying up their way. There are no rules. You can get rid of stuff in big chunks, do it one thing at a time, give it to charity, give it to friends, leave it on the footpath with a sign that says ‘free to good home.’ ... It doesn’t matter as long as the stuff goes and you feel like you've done it the right way.
And on the joys of having done the letting go:
I don’t lose things now; I don’t need to buy a new pair of scissors every time I need to cut something. My bills get paid on time because I know where I keep them. I don’t have to leave the house to have dinner anymore. I actually enjoy being in my own home. I’m in control now, not the stuff.

Update on Dec. 22, 2013: I was confusing this book with another one. This isn't one I borrowed; it was a gift from organizer Lissanne Oliver. Thanks, Lissanne!


JustGail said...

This sounds like an interesting book, especially since it's written by a hoarder (do you ever say "former hoarder"?), instead of the usual occupations of organizer, psycologist, etc. I'll keep an eye out for it.

JustGail said...

I forgot to add - Thanks to Corrine Grant for having the courage to write about her story dealing with hoarding.

Jeri Dansky said...

Interesting question, Gail, and I don't know what the latest research says. But here's what Corinne says: Like an alcoholic, you'll always be a hoarder. However, you can become a reformed hoarder.

Anonymous said...

Another good source of blessing others with the things you no longer need is FLY Lady. Awesome website, information and encouragement!