The Only Criteria

My client was going through a plastic container she found in the closet by her front door. She came across papers she had written in high school and college.

She seemed troubled. I asked her what she was feeling. She said, "I haven't looked at these in over thirty years. Do I need to keep them?"

I said if she has to ask, the answer is no.

She was still hesitant. She said, "Really? But aren't you supposed to hang on to stuff like this?"

I said there are no supposed tos. The only criteria for keeping something is whether or not you love and enjoy it now. If you feel stuck in a supposed to or should, you're in emotional pain. It's uncomfortable. I pointed out how unhappy she looked. I said the best thing we can do for ourselves is to be around things we love, and remove the things that hurt us.

She put the old papers in the recycling trash bag. She said, "I can't believe I hung on to those for so long. I'm curious what else I've got that's old for me."