10 Habits and Misunderstandings To Toss

Most of us associate spring-cleaning with physical objects. We roll up our sleeves and clear out our closets and drawers. If we’re feeling ambitious or preparing to move we might even tackle the attic or garage. We know we have too much stuff. We want to lighten out load. It feels great when we release our junk and shed what no longer serves us. Our lives benefit tremendously when we do this on the physical plane, but also in the psychological realm. It’s important to know that it is safe to let go. Here are a few things you can “toss” that will make a huge difference in your life.

1. Worry.

Stop future-tripping. “Worry is a meditation on shit,” Mark Ruffalo says in the film, Thanks for Sharing. I’d add “future shit.” Worry is a warped form of mental preparedness; we think that if we worry about something we’ll be prepared for it. Don Joseph Goewey, author of The End of Stress, discusses a study that proves that 85% of what we worry about never happens. And he quotes the great essayist Michel de Montaigne, who wrote, “My life has been filled with terrible misfortune; most of which never happened.”

2. The Illusion of Control.

Give it up. Surrender your resistance to those things over which you have zero control. We humans love to believe we’re in control! We exert what appears to be our control in large and small ways, but sooner or later we find ourselves up against forces beyond our control. The healthiest thing to do at times like this is to accept what is. This is not always easy, especially when things don’t go our way. We might kick and scream inside, or throw an actual tantrum, but sooner or later if we don’t accept the truth of our circumstances, we’ll exacerbate our own suffering

3. Preoccupation with Others’ Thoughts—Especially About You.

What other people think of you is none of your business! You’ve heard this, right?  Believe it. Make it a mantra: What other people think of me is none of my business. Be your own person. Listen to your own wisdom. You will make mistakes, and you will learn from them. Or they will return until you have learned your lessons.

4. The Old I’m-Not-Good-Enough Story.

Don’t believe the lie that you’re not good enough. I don’t care who you are or what you’ve done—you are good enough. You are a human being worthy of love and respect. You are on your path. You may get lost, but that’s part of the journey. No one person is better than another. Being rich doesn’t make you better. Success doesn’t make you better. You’re not better because of a fancy education or because of your dress size. There is no better. We are all equally worthy. Let go of your doubts, show up, and do the best you can. There’s no one to impress. No judges evaluating your every move. Life is an adventure. Play the game your way.

5. Unproductive fear.

Know the difference between productive and unproductive fear. Productive fear is a response to a real threat in our environment. It is present-moment-focused and keeps us safe. Destructive fear happens in our heads. It stems from our imagination, from scary or unpleasant stories we tell ourselves about something that happened in the past or that might (but probably won’t) happen in the future. It’s important to start to identify the two and how they show up in your life. (I discuss this further in my essay “Writing Naked: The Benefits of Exposing Yourself Through Memoir,” published in The Magic of Memoir and excerpted in MindBodyGreen.)

6. The Need for Certainty.

Give it up. Uncertainty is one of the few certainties of life. While some people may have some psychic ability, most of us don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. Needing to know what’s impossible to know causes suffering.

7. Retail Therapy.

Stay out of stores. Spending money may make you feel better for a little while, but its satisfaction is short-lived. In fact, you will feel worse than you felt before your spree if you spent money you didn’t have on stuff you don’t need. Which leads to #8.

8. Clutter.

Resist the temptation to crowd your space. Every object you own has energy attached to it; it is as if each object had invisible strings connecting us to it. After a while, these invisible strings begin to weigh us down. And if you’re surrounded by stuff you don’t like, it robs you of energy, and even prevents the flow of energy around you. So assess your space to see what you might be able to let go of.

9. Comparisons.

All comparisons are hateful.  It is a waste of your precious time and energy to compare yourself with anybody else. Facebook has made this unfortunate habit difficult to avoid. What’s worse is that we compare our interior lives with other people’s outer ones. Things are rarely as they appear, especially on social media. Don’t compare yourself to anyone but the person you aspire to be.

10. Anger.

Forgive yourself and others. Holding onto your anger is like carrying a burning coal in your hand; the only one it’s hurting is you.

Spring-cleaning is great any time of year. It feels good to let go of things—physical as well as mental—that don’t serve you. Clearing habits that prevent you from living the large and luminous life you are meant to live will free you. Take stock. Be honest. Pay attention. Know you are safe no matter what. Create space for inspiration and magic to enter your life. It may be easier to let go of physical things first. Go ahead. Start there. Be brave. Toss ten things you don’t need today! And while you’re cleaning, ideas might just pop into your mind regarding deeper clearing efforts. Stay open, listen to your own wisdom and inspiration, and have fun!

Bella Mahaya Carter is the author of Secrets of My Sex. Her poems, essays, articles, and short fiction have appeared in The SunmindbodygreenLilithLiterary Mama, and elsewhere. Her work has been anthologized in The Magic of Memoir: Inspiration for the Writing JourneyGrandmothers’ Necklace; and Writing Our Way Out of the Dark: An Anthology of Literary Acts of Bravery. Carter, who studied dance at The Juilliard School, practices creative movement and writing as vehicles for personal transformation and spiritual connection. She is a writing teacher, developmental editor, and empowerment coach, with a lifelong passion for creativity, health, and healing. She is a featured columnist on SheWrites.com. Her new book is Raw: My Journey from Anxiety to Joy. You can connect with Bella on Facebook and Instagram and learn more about her at www.bellamahayacarter.com.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

29 Responses to 10 Habits and Misunderstandings To Toss

  1. Audrey Johnson says:

    All very good advice. I like to take lists like this and take some time to seriously ponder them and their meaning. I think they all sound wonderful now and can only anticipate how much better they will be when mulled over.
    Thank you for sharing them.

  2. Salim Safi says:

    Thank you so much for the helpful article im going through difficult times making decisions to things that don’t benefit me but you shed light to me thank you <3

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