The other day, I played a round of We’re Not Really Strangers with my friend. We were discussing what we wanted to be better at.
He told me:
“I wish I could be better at letting go. I like change, but I hate letting go.”
I didn’t realize it then, but these two things go hand in hand. It is difficult to change without letting something go. In some cases, it’s impossible.
The Importance of Subtraction
Many people think that self-improvement can happen solely through addition. Addition of new habits, books, water, exercise. And while these are all good things, what is equally important is the other side of the coin: subtraction.
Removing what does not serve you allows you to dedicate more time and energy to the things that do.
Take the physical example of a mug. You cannot put another item where that mug is unless you remove the mug first.
The same concept holds for ideas. If you have one idea telling you to move east and another idea telling you to move west, it is impossible to keep both ideas. In order to move east, you cannot move west. It’s written in the laws of nature.
In order to make progress, you must constantly let go of what does not serve you.
Letting go allows you to create space for better opportunities.
Bob Proctor calls this idea the vacuum law of prosperity in his book “You Were Born Rich.” The ideas in this story have been adopted from this work.
In order to fully harness the potential of your future self, it is necessary to make room for what you truly value.
Nature Abhors a Vacuum
Abhor: to regard with disgust and hatred.
If nature hates a vacuum, and we create a vacuum in our lives by decluttering what is no longer meaningful, what happens next?
The vacuum will not remain a vacuum. It’s against the laws of nature.
Instead, it will inevitably be filled with what you truly value and desire.
Using a physical example, if I clear my closet of the clothes that I no longer wear, I will have created more space. It is likely that over time, this space will be filled again. But this time around, my closet will be filled with the items that I truly want.
Similarly, by holding on to doubt, guilt, and regret, these negative emotions are taking up precious space in the mind. They are leeches that drain mental energy.
No matter how much you want to grow and become better, without letting go, you will reach a point where you simply run out of space.
What you hold onto determines how far you can go.
In holding on to what doesn’t serve you, you are limiting your own growth.
I don’t know what demons plague you, or what keeps you up at night. All I can say is that if you have learned from your mistakes, it brings you no good to continue torturing yourself for your past actions.
If you wouldn’t repeat that same action today, let go of that guilt. Forgive yourself like you would forgive someone else.
All You Need to Know
It’s easy to see change as a matter of addition. But you can only add as much as you have space for.
To create more space, we must practice subtraction — of useless pride, grudges, unnecessary negativity, and anything else that doesn’t serve your goals and values anymore.
In order to make room for change, we have to let go.