No matter how successful you are, no matter what position you have in your corporation or how big your past successes were, people still find ways to hold themselves back or need to be stepping up in order to create a life that lights them up. It’s just the way it is. Living life is about shining bright, sharing our gifts, and making a difference, and the four facets that pave the way for us to do that are permission, courage, awareness, and support.
Just recently, we spoke to Lois Barth, a Human Development Expert, Behavioral Wellness meets Professional Development Consultant, Keynote Speaker, Coach, and Author. The conversation looped around to the importance of letting go. We often know we have attitudes, people, or possessions in our life that it’s best to let go of in order to grow, it’s still really challenging for most of us to do that.
Lois believes that opportunities in life to let go are presented to us every moment.
In light of that, she shared with us how her recent decision to “declutter” and organize her wardrobe totally transformed her relationship with letting go.
Lesson #1- Letting Go Can Change Another Person(s) Life
Full disclosure; I’m not just a clotheshorse, I have a clothes ranch. Five and a half closets mostly jam-packed with clothes, 10% of those that I actually wear.
Here’s where your “Amen” comes in. Chances are you have your own version.
Problem. I have an attachment to almost every piece of clothing in my wardrobe. I remember where I bought it, what I paid for it, and where I wore it (both positive and negative). Clothing, in my world, is wearable art; one of many forms of self-expression I share in the world. Letting go of them felt like giving up my cloth children for adoption and not knowing who would take care of them. In addition, fear of missing out (FOMO) (as in this case, maybe I may want to wear it someday) will probably always be one of my great “classrooms” in life. Conflict. I’m making some major changes in my life, personally and professionally, and having packed closets with things I hardly ever wear and not having easy access to my clothing doesn’t support those changes. I also LOVE what Feng Shui says about our physical possessions: ‘if you don’t love it or use it, it’s dead energy‘ End of story. Yup, bingo!
As this turmoil of what to give up and what to keep was stirring about, the phone rang. It was a dear friend who I love and who I’ve been the unofficial wardrobe Sparkle-Sistah to for the last 10 years. I adore helping her select clothes that show off her knock-out figure and highlight her gorgeous coloring, encouraging her to use her clothing to be more visible in the world.
I shared my dilemma and she listened intently, as she always does. Then I realized ‘OMG, rather than call it a purge or declutter, words I hate and that have negative energy, I could ‘Re-Gift my Wardrobe to her and her teenage daughter.’ At that moment, my relationship with letting go of my clothes started to crack open. With each article of clothing, I thought of both her and her daughter and a myriad of other friends (from ones who need work clothes to others who recently had setbacks and need some new pieces while in a work transition, to a myriad of others) who would look fabulous in the different pieces and could really uplevel their life. I got excited. With every item, there was an opportunity to delight someone I loved, cared about, and wanted to make a difference for. Eight days and seven hours later, I had re-gifted eight huge shopping bags to some dear friends in my life, their friends, and to the causes near and dear to their hearts. It was like losing 20 pounds overnight without giving up carbs!
I now have access to all my clothes and have brought out some oldies but goodies. It takes me 10 minutes to put together an entire outfit that I feel terrific in. Since that’s happened, I’ve had two people stop me on the street and ask me if I was in fashion. I couldn’t help thinking, “No I’m just in the fashion of re-gifting my wardrobe.”
I never thought my clothes were that valuable, but now I’m being deliciously bombarded with stories of how my clothes are making a difference. From feeling a new sense of confidence when networking, to experiencing a sense of sassy and sexy while traveling through Europe in their new garb, to stories of an inspired teenager who is getting more gutsy and bold in her clothing choices.
I have a dear friend whose dad wrote Bazooka Joe comics. It was a very small part of his iconic career in comedy writing. My friend ran into a stranger at an event, who had shared that he had lived in abject poverty. When he discovered what her father did, he took both her hands and said with great earnestness, “Please tell your dad, ‘Thank You!’
He went on to share that he’d tape every comic to the wall and re-read them hundreds of times, providing him with the gift of humor and laughter in an otherwise painful existence. My friend shared this with her father, just before his dementia took over. “Oh my God!” was his response. It never occurred to him that his simple comics could have had such an impact. What if he had allowed fear or resistance to stop him? That young man would never have received that gift. We just never know!
Call to Action: What in your life do you need to let go of? How, by letting go of it, could serve others? Whether it’s tangible possessions (clothes, furniture, etc) or beliefs and behaviors, that you need to let go of, take a moment and think of who you could serve by letting go of not only what is weighing you down, but what you no longer need. What projects, initiatives or dreams have you put on hold due to fears, concerns, or a garden variety of “not enough” and how, by moving beyond them, could you be serving to make those dreams happen?
Lesson #2- Honor Your Body’s Brilliance
It’s often so difficult for women to trust themselves, and not second-guess our instincts, desires, and feelings. That’s why the first facet of Courage to SPARKLE is permission. So few women really give themselves the depth of permission we need to bring our full self out in order to really live a fulfilling and rewarding life.
With each item of clothing I tried on, I listened to my head say “Oh you can use this when you go to a blah blah blah,” rationalizing away the need to let go. My head often buys all-day passes in the inactivity park of “Attachment World.” But when I breathed deep, closed my eyes for a bit, and checked in to see how I felt in a particular article of clothing I got my answer. If there was a mixed, ambivalent, “yes…no…maybe”, I put it on the side and committed to going back to it a few days later (almost always opting to release it after a second fitting). If it was a definitive “no”, I re-gifted it with joy. And if it was a “yes,” I kept it. But what I noticed is that it was the energy that clued me in the most. My “yes” was a “woo-hoo I feel like me in this,” while my “no” was a flat, lifeless feeling.
While feelings can come and go and we can’t always base major life decisions on feelings that may be fleeting, we can go a little deeper to really tune into our energy, our instincts, and when we do, we often get the answer right away. Think of the last venture where everything “on paper” looked good, but an instinct or your overall energy in your gut told you otherwise.
Call to Action: When looking at letting go of something or someone in your life that no longer serves you, take a beat and notice the energy you feel when you’re around that person, or doing that project, or looking through old items in your possession that no longer serve you. Do you feel a sense of excitement or is it a total buzzkill? I’m not talking about the mundane tedious tasks that are often part of whatever we take on; that’s life. But if the overall experience lands as a giant “blah” or even more palpable “dread,” really honor and trust that. One can have an “energized fear” which is about really wanting to do something and being afraid, but the difference is there’s a sense of vitality. Your body possesses such brilliance; use it!
#3- Create New and Inspiring Language Around Letting Go
While sometimes it’s essential to identify someone as a toxic person or a threadbare piece of clothing as making you feel like a real schlepper, it’s often more appealing to look at framing letting go in a way that inspires and delights you.
Pick words and phrases that delight you and your relationship with letting go will change. When I referred to the process as decluttering or purging my closet, I experienced overwhelm and dread. Since I am attached to my clothes, calling them “clutter” felt off and downright disrespectful. Clearly, we don’t need to do a deep dive into the “purge” metaphor to see that, hey, there’s no SPARKLE there in the least! But when I languaged it (yes I use language as a verb; if we can use friend as a verb, as in friending someone, I’m taking a poetic license on language) as “re-gifting my wardrobe,” it totally lit me up.
Call to Action: How can you use language to reframe letting go in a new and fun way? How about Upleveling Your Life, or Committing to Only Having Relationships, Possessions, and Beliefs that Inspire and Fulfill You? Then it’s no longer about ditching or getting rid of, but rather what you’re stepping into in your life.
Here’s to lightening up and letting go and elevating not only your own life but those around you as a result.
What would your department or organization look like if your team members:
- Really were excited about who they are and sharing their gifts and talents?
- Traded in fear and perfectionism for freedom and excellence?
- Were jazzed up about contributing to their co-workers and customers?
They’d have the Courage to SPARKLE; to shine bright, to share their gifts and to make a difference!
Want to find out how to do just that? Email Lois at firstname.lastname@example.org and schedule a time for you to talk with her so she can do just that!