Letting Go of Stuff, Part One

How to identify what is holding you back and how to let it go

By Holli Kenley

With the New Year here, many of us are already stressing about what new resolutions or expectations we should place upon ourselves. That is typically followed by the dread of how quickly we will break them or not measure up to them.  I have a suggestion – let’s greet the New Year by  letting go of stuff.

By stuff, I mean anything. It could be  letting go of….

  • A person or people – a toxic relationship, an unhealthy partner, a dysfunctional family member, a negative group.
  • A place or thing – the memory of or a tangible reminder of an environment or person that is harmful or unpleasant.
  • An idea or thought – negative life messages, worry, pessimism.
  • An emotion, attitude or feeling – regret, guilt, grief, anger, blame, self-doubt, disappointment.
  • A habit – rescuing unhealthy individuals, overcommitting, working too many hours, not eating right or exercising enough, and so on.

In order to get started, it is important is that we spend some time thinking about how we are feeling. Give yourself permission to take a brutal and honest inventory.

Ask and answer these questions.

  • What is working for me in my life? What or who is contributing to my well-being – augmenting my wellness, enhancing my sense of worth and of self, and fueling me in healthy ways?
  • Along with that, what is not? What or who is depleting me – taking away my energy, draining my resources, and diminishing my capacity for inner peace, balance, and joy?

Take your time, but do spend time completing this exercise.  This is Step One in  letting go of stuff.  I know from first hand experience that this can be hard – really hard.

A few years ago in October 2013, I started hosting my own weekly radio show. I had prepared long and hard for this opportunity and was excited about this new leg of my professional journey. After the first two weeks, I felt over-worked and over-committed. I was spending anywhere from 30 – 40 hours a week preparing for each show. My other professional obligations were suffering, and I could feel the stress taking its toll on me. After two months, I was feeling depleted and resentful of the entire process. To add insult to injury, I began beating myself up for making such a huge commitment and felt extremely guilty for wanting to give it up. I worried how others would be disappointed in me or how I might be letting them down. Taking a few weeks off for the holidays allowed me to clear my mind and to  feel  the relief of being released from the burden of the show.  I realized what I had to do – I had to let it go.And, as I did, I felt the  Holli I know myself to be return to being herself.

So, I do understand that it is hard to self-examine and to make changes. However, wellness – like anything else – takes hard work. Let’s start today.


This exercise is so important. Over the next week, take your self-inventory and write down what or who is not working for you. You are not being selfish – you are taking care of you.

Next time, we will move on the Step Two – Ways of Letting Go of Stuff!

Publisher’s Note: Holli Kenley is an American Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and the author of “ Daughters Betrayed By Their Mothers: Moving from Brokenness to Wholeness” and “Power Down & Parent Up!: Cyber Bullying, Screen Dependence & Raising Tech-Healthy Children”