Let’s face it — everyone has baggage. Everyone.

Feelings, things, thoughts or people that don’t do anything but hold us back. And I think we’re tired of being told to just let it go.

The truth is, striving to become a minimalist can actually create more baggage.

I’m not suggesting we turn our backs on the suggestion to minimize. Instead, simply shift energy and focus from saying just let it go to increasing our self-awareness, so we’re identifying what truly needs to go.

We read a lot of articles and books that tell us what we need to let go of. We watch documentaries that showcase the “right” way to live. We hear a lot of opinions of what we should let go of, and in the midst of all of this noise, the only — and most important — thing we really only need to listen to is our intuition.

Our inner knowing of what will liberate us the most because we can’t let go of anything until we are aware of what it is, and what we need to learn from it.

This is why it feels like we’re going in circles when we’re not following our intuition.

On top of the disconnect from our inner knowing, stopping to go down a different path is change, so we’ll naturally resist it for as long as we can, which creates a lot of unnecessary chaos.

Mix the self-disconnect, a reluctance for change, plus a society based on consumption with a splash of cultural mantra to stick it out that gets served on the reg, and pretty soon you’re an overly mixed conflicted cocktail, sans the cute umbrella.

You have no idea which way to go and are left wondering…

When is it time to leave a relationship or situation? When is it time to just get out of my head? When is it time to give the sweater I’ve never worn away? When is it time to shift my direction?

Mindful awareness mixed with action turns us into minimalists — in every sense of the word.

Now I’m not implying to live in a space with one bowl, one chair, and one pair of underwear (unless that floats your boat), however, it’s imperative to consider and figure out what feeds you. This way, whatever needs to go can be released and not clung to for unjustified reasons.

Through self-inquiry, you’ll begin to see patterns and they’ll show you what’s truly holding you back.

Then it’s just a matter of time before you let whatever it is go. And with practice, the space between becoming aware of and being able to let it go, gets smaller and smaller.

The process of figuring out what we need to let go of is different for all of us.

So, where does one even start?

It may seem dippy but a great place to begin building awareness is in your closet. After all, would you rather regret parting ways with a pair of pants or your partner?

This week, look through your closet and find at least one thing you’ve contemplated getting rid of, but for whatever reason haven’t. Ask yourself:

Why am I holding on to it? What will happen if I get rid of it?

Then without judgment, write down your thoughts.

Continue to ask yourself these questions, as different situations come up.

The practice of paying attention to the patterns of why we’re holding on offers an incredible amount of insight into decision making habits in all other areas of our lives too. What you do in one, impacts, and flows into the other.

Learn to love your clutter and let it teach you.

If you do, in time you’ll clear the way to experience clarity around what you don’t want, and in the process you’ll make space for more good things to come your way.

Originally published at medium.com