If you are an artist or crafter or a creator of physical things in any form, you may find yourself in some predicaments when trying to incorporate a Minimalist lifestyle. If you have any sentimental urges then this post is for you.
These four nagging ‘what if’ questions arose for me during this week of serious minimising:
* What if I need it at some point?
How many things do you keep for just incase? How many times have you needed these things?
Somehow we manage to fill our spaces with so many extra things that are hardly, if ever, used. Or even worse, we fill it up with duplicates that seem to start collections of their own… Just incase. The creative potential of every item is so obvious that we feel we just might need it if the opportunity ever arrises. Unfortunately the rate of problem solving opportunities seem to lag way behind the accumulation of more things.
This conundrum brought on other questions for me:
* What if the other one breaks?
We seem to feel obliged to have back-ups. Back-up buckets, jars, toothpastes, blue eyeliner (incase I need it for a dress-up party!) t-shirts and towels (so many towels!). Unless you live somewhere in the wilderness, far from amenities and people, you probably do not need a back-up for every item in your home.
Honestly, though, I have been thankful for my stack of towels when the washing machine overflowed all over my kitchen floor. But I realise that the towels we actually use would have sufficed for the job. And the mop could handle the rest… And it meant fixing the machine and washing the whole stack of just-in-case-towels anyway. So. Maybe the extra towels were still not entirely vital or necessary.
All those extra socks just mean waiting longer for washday and having a bigger job to do when it arrives.
* What if I miss this item when it’s gone?
Many minimalist bloggers mention how they have never missed or regretted donating or selling an item. This is a problem for me because I have regretted giving items away or selling things in the past. Not entirely sure why, though? But I suspect it could have something to do with a person’s mindset at the time. I haven’t regretted anything thus far in my minimising experiment and this may be because my mindset has changed in relation to my possessions.
We tend to assume that our possessions are a part of our identity. They may reflect some things about us. They might make us feel connected and they may even tell stories about our lives. This is not a problem. The problem is when we cling onto things because we think that they are part of us or our history. We confuse sentiment with true expression and value. We are not our stuff and the balance is easily tipped. We let our things start to take the reigns and lead us instead of the other way around. They dictate to us who we are and who we should be. You might decorated your whole house around some sentimental furniture, that you don’t even like anymore, just because they belonged to someone, remind you of something or tell a story of who you once were. The truth is that they are probably holding you back and limiting the “you” that you have become.
This is a wonderful way of looking at it: You do not need to get rid of things that still serve you only those that do not. Those that smother you by controlling or limiting you or your choices. Things should be an extension that aid not hinder. You should be surrounded by what is authentic. This is a topic that I will get back to very soon in a future post.
* What if I forget?
I have kept so many momentos over the years. Things to remind me of events or people or places. Some of these things do trigger memories. Yet, those memories are obviously still inside me and not in the items. Some of the things were mysteries. No memories were recalled. Many of the momentos turned out to be quite negative. Things that brought on stress, sadness, shame and regret. This is not constructive.
When we hold onto items because they remind us of things from our past, we need to be selective. I realised that even the seemingly ’positive’ things only made me judge present me for letting down past me. So all these things had to go.
The only things I am keeping are some photographs of good memories and these will be put into digital format. We will also keep things that are actually used and add value to our lives. Blogging or journaling are also methods of documenting without cluttering.
Do you have any additional thoughts or advice on letting go and dealing with the nagging doubt? Please leave a comment 🙂