My phone client was working in her basement. She found boxes of school papers from when she had attended classes in college. She was feeling troubled about what to do with them. I asked her if she ever referred to these papers, and she said that in the ten years since graduating from college, she hadn't. But she wondered, what if at some point she wanted to?
I said it's hard to live with that fear. What you're really holding on to is not the item but the fear that you might need the item. People spend a lifetime holding on to fear, and they end up trading that fear for their lives. Fear about the future divorces us from feeling connected with our lives right now.
My client was feeling confused. She talked about how much money she spent on college. She tried to convince me of the value of these papers as she recounted some of the names of the courses she took.
I felt that her fear was based on her needs when she was studying in school, a time when these papers were essential to her. She was relating to their past importance. The fear of letting them go and losing their imagined value was keeping her from seeing that these papers were now only functioning in taking up space in her basement. They were of equal value to old newspapers and out-of-date computer manuals.
That's why it helps to ask, "Is this serving me now? Do I use and love this now?" It breaks the spell of our past associations.
My client understood. The hypnosis of past value slipped away. She was able to see the papers' current value and then she let them go.