Learning to Recognize What is Hurting Us

I got an email from a blog reader. She wrote:

"I feel like a huge chunk of my belongings may have different levels of negative associations and I'm not sure what I really need to toss. For example: my expensive mattress was purchased by my mom during a time when I was in a very low-point of my life and stayed in bed a lot. I still sleep on it and it's comfortable, but do I need to eventually get rid of that or will my subconscious get over it? Can we lose these negative associations? What if I am using the item or I can't afford another one?"

I wrote to her that it's hard to lose negative associations. The way our minds work, we have associations with things. It's how we learn. The memories get stored in our cells and when we interact with the things, the memories get stirred up and enlivened. Whenever I work with someone and they have negative associations with something, I can see the drag it has on them. The presence of the thing makes them tired and irritable. They often didn't realize it because they got used to feeling that way. We are influenced by the things around us more than we realize.

Since she said, "I feel like a huge chunk of my belongings may have...negative associations", it means they do, and they are hurting her in some way. Because she brought up the bed, there's a good chance it's clutter for her. But there is also some resistance to letting it go, maybe because it was a gift from her mother at a time when she wasn't feeling well. She might be experiencing a comfort association along with the memories of when she was feeling very depressed.

I know it can be hard to let things go. Sometimes it feels like they have a hypnotic spell over us. We recognize it's not a good thing, at the same time we can't seem to let them go. This is about recognizing a friend from a foe. Sometimes a foe has some positive qualities too. But it's worth overlooking those and seeing how something is hurting us. We don't like to admit we are fragile. We are sensitive and affected by things. We think we can overlook the effects. By I found it's best to protect ourselves by eliminating what is causing us harm.

I once found a bunch of old poems that I wrote many years ago during a time when I felt very sad. I remembered how they helped me through a difficult time. But when I started to reread them, I started to feel sad again. It felt like a heavy smoke was coming into my body. I wanted to lie down and sleep. I realized I had to let the poems go. It was hard because the beneficial memories were going, "Wait, don't toss us. We're your friends. Don't you remember how we were there for you? Pleeeeeeeeese keep us!" I felt like I was drugged. But then I thought, "This isn't a good situation for me. I need to take care of myself right now." I tossed the poems. I felt really good immediately. It was like I deleted an old file from my hard drive. There was a great feeling of open space in me.