Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Packing Things Away

(This blog was originally posted on April 27, 2016)

Photo by Rick Hustead

Now that it is officially Spring, I have no excuse to postpone my Spring cleaning. Specifically, to go through my closets and dresser drawers and separate the clothes I still wear from the ones that just take up storage space. The thing is, even the items I haven’t worn for years have a lot of sentimental value and I just don’t want to get rid of them yet. Fortunately, I had a very enlightening conversation with Linda Hammond, one of my friends (and Network Referral Group partner) about how to handle this issue.

Linda is the group’s interior-design “guru.” In addition to having fabulous taste in color pallets and furniture placement, she also has practical solutions for just about any (and every) home-decorating/organization crisis to come along. Today’s informal topic was what to do with all the things I didn’t want to be without, even though I haven’t thought about (let alone worn) one of those items in ages. Her simple solution was simple. First: organize the clothes into “must have,” “don’t want” and “can’t part with” categories. The articles I wanted to keep would obviously be re-folded/placed on a hanger and put back where I found them. The stuff I didn’t want anymore (or no longer fit into) would go into a box to donate at a nearby Goodwill or similar outlet. Finally the items I couldn’t bear to part with (yet) would be placed in another box to store just out of reach but accessible if I really, really can’t get rid of them yet—but one day. That plan sounded do-able and I thanked her profusely for the suggestions.

When I thought about our conversation later in the evening, I was struck by how practical this plan was and its similarity to some of the strategies I help my hypnotherapy clients develop to address an uncomfortable issue. 
  1. Chunk it down (divide the items into discrete categories or groups to deal with individually). This is a Neuro-Linguistic Programming technique in which the person divides a big task or concept into several smaller ones in order to better manage/handle it.
  2. Begin separating or detaching from the items you’re not quite ready to part with by storing them in an out-of-the-way place where you can get to them if necessary but will take some effort to retrieve. Whenever you think about or remember that you still have them, do a quick inventory of whether these objects still have the same sentimental value or are you ready to release this attachment so someone else can enjoy them. As Linda said, it’s okay to hold onto these items and there should never be any pressure to absolutely discard them; but the time may eventually come when it is and feels okay to say goodbye and send them on their way with love.
  3. Evaluate how much of this attachment to the garment is genuine (sentimental value) or habit. For example, I have owned (but rarely worn) an old Cricket sweater since 1989. Do I hold onto it because I still hold fond memories of the year I bought it? It is more likely that I have kept the sweater because I’m not sure what to do with it and I’m just a little bit afraid that I might miss it when it’s gone. That anxiety goes right back to Hypnosis Motivation Institute founder John Kappas, Ph.D.’s Theory of Mind: The subconscious mind is afraid of what it doesn’t know. I have actually owned that Cricket sweater more than half of my life, but the perceived pain isn’t separating from a beloved item of clothes (which I haven’t worn since I bought it). No, the anxiety and discomfort comes from the idea of not having it anymore.
I hope this information and tips are helpful to you as you embark on your own Spring-cleaning/donation rituals. It certainly helped me to write this blog: the decision is made and sweater is staying. At least until next year.

Sara R. Fogan, C.Ht. is a certified hypnotherapist based in Southern California. She graduated with honors from the Hypnosis Motivation Institute in 2005. For more information about Calminsense Hypnotherapy® and to set up an appointment, please visit 

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