To “purge” is to release a lot in one deluge, one fell swoop. If you’re purging, you aren’t picking and choosing one little brick at a time–you’re declaring that a complete overhaul is in order, and it’s entirely possible that a foundation (or two) might come down.

The first (and only) step to not needing to purge? Don’t binge. We binge on easy-come, easy-go; we binge on credit cards; we binge on rich foods; we binge on fast money or fast cars or fast (hot) sex.

Then follows the ubiquitous declarations of repentance and the abstinence-oriented cleanses–and when the cycle starts to repeat itself with alarming predictability, you know you’ve got both a pattern and a neurosis on your hands.

But let’s just go straight to brass tacks–if you’re ready to purge, you’re hopefully past repentance. You’re ready to take the structure down and build it back up.


Know What You’re Dealing With

Whether you’re purging clutter, empty relationships, or weight (and we’re definitely talking about purging that is of the “work out and eat better” variety, not the kind that qualifies you for a diagnosis), it’s good to know what you’re dealing with.

Because–what IS up with you that your office is such a mess that you can’t find anything and your husband is (only half-jokingly) threatening to call Hoarders on you? What IS going on with why you’ve surrounded yourself with Stepford Wives and can’t remember the last time that you had a meaningful conversation? Knowing where you’re starting from is important.

Also–have at least one (if not a few) really good, (purging) crying sessions if you’re releasing something particularly heavy.


Don’t Get Paralysis Analysis

At the same time–quit trying to figure out all the ins and outs of how the shit hit the fan. Start making choices in the right direction, and don’t futz around (for too long, anyway) with figuring out what the “right direction” is. Just start with the opposite of the one you were on, and course correct from there.

Maybe you’re going through a divorce; maybe your business is crashing and burning; maybe you are looking around at your life and don’t know who you are, anymore. Great. Now get going, even if “get going” means that you finally take up that meditation practice you’ve been meaning to start for aeons. It’s not about cramming your to-do lists so much as it is about making different choices–and making a lot of them.


Get Help

Rally the troops. Even if what you’re releasing is a cadre of unsatisfying relationships, you can always hire an ace coach or a hot-shit therapist, start attending support group meetings, workshops, reading more self-help (may I suggest something that’s a little lighter on the b.s. side of things?). Maybe you’ll pray or meditate, more (free, of course) to get through these tough times. Perhaps you’ll take up running or try to sweat out all the toxins (emotional and otherwise) at a Bikram studio. Whatever you do, call up your tribe, or create one of your own.


Release It

Don’t try to repurpose it, sell it, trade it, or store it until it goes up in value. Release it.

Have you ever seen an episode of Hoarders? I’ve caught a few. You’ll notice that the hoarder in question almost always says that they don’t want to throw something away because they were saving it for some express reason. Meanwhile, the rest of us can see that they’re never, ever going to find a use for those six cracked ceramic toilet seats sitting in their back yard.

The same principle applies to anything else that we need to let go of, in life. Just release it. Release the relationship. Release the job with the boss that screams at you. Release the paperwork. Release the attachment to an ideal that hasn’t been working for you for far longer than you’d like to admit. I don’t even like the idea of garage sales–just donate, get it out of the house.

Don’t try to repurpose, sell, trade, or store it in the hopes that things will change–just release.


Shit Fits are For Three Year Olds

Release–and release with class. Release with integrity for what that relationship held for you and what it taught you. Release with respect–for the environment (you’re recycling all of that paper, aren’t you?), for the people involved (even if you don’t like them, they’re human beings, you know), and for your future karma (what goes around…).

When it comes to things like releasing mental patterns or weight, take a moment to–of all things!–have some gratitude. Letting go of a tendency to lose your temper? Chances are good that that pattern served you well at some point, maybe helping you to survive a childhood. Honor that. Letting go of 200 pounds? Honor the weight–even the pattern that piled it on–because that, too, was a coping mechanism of some kind.


Create Something Better

Maybe it didn’t go the way you wanted it to, and you feel like life’s in the shitter–it’s all a wonky mess. Beautiful. Now you have ample information about how you don’t want it to be, and you’re in the driver’s seat for creating something better. You have endless tools at your disposal to do this (if you don’t see them now, start honing that kind of vision–when oft practiced, it does emerge more and more naturally).

How could you bless the situation, the person, the experience? Within the blessing, you’ll pave the way to an amplified new vision for how things can work out, next time. Nothing, short of death, is irreversible (and if you believe in reincarnation, even that involves some level of “I’ll getcha on the next go-around” negotiations).


When you release the old, you open up a wide expanse of space to let in what’s new–and this time, with more consciousness and stronger choices. Create something better, something that will make it easy in a few months or years to look back with friends and say, “Remember when it was so tough because…?” with an easy smile.