If you are new to minimalism or you haven’t waded in very deep you will think this discussion about how difficult it can be to throw stuff out, declutter, and clear your space is much ado about nothing.
You might even think that it’s just a selfish existential crisis.
If you do, then this post is not for you.
However, if you know how difficult discarding your possessions can be or maybe you’re at the point where you’re in knee-deep but you’re stuck – read on friend.
Over a year ago, I made a goal to go through everything I owned and rid myself of the excess, pare it all down, take stock, declutter my external life and my internal life.
The kick in the butt that got me going was having to go through my best friend’s belongings after she died. I realized that someone, at some point was going to have to go through my stuff. So, I decided to do it first.
Everyone has a motive, a kick in the butt, so to speak that gets them started on this path. And while our “whys” differ, we all get to a point where it’s just overwhelming.
And in the year or so that I’ve been decluttering my life, I’ve gotten overwhelmed several times and I want to share what I did. Maybe it will help you.
I found there are 2 kinds of “walls” that I hit:
“There’s just too much stuff and I’m going to be doing this for the rest of my life and I’m just too tired” wall.
“This is just too emotional, I love all my stuff, I feel like I’m throwing out ME, no one will remember my life if I have nothing to show for it, I’m going to cry my eyes out and throw up” wall.
When I hit those walls I just walked away. I laid on the couch and watched a movie. I got out of the house, went for a walk in the park, called someone and talked about something totally different.
I walked away sometimes for an hour, a day and sometimes for a week or more.
It was hard to walk away because I was on a mission, I wanted to complete the task, but I couldn’t with that cannon ball weighing down my gut.
I would get emotionally or physically exhausted and the only cure was to quit – for a while.
Then when the cannon ball would shrink and disappear and I got my energy back, I went back to work.
You have to have patience with yourself!
In my plan for clearing out that I detail on the Free Your Home Plan page I explain how I have made “sweeps” through my house, discarding a little at a time. I know it’s the opposite of popular decluttering plans, but I have found it very helpful.
I’ve gone through different rooms, or closets and decluttered and discarded as much as I emotionally or physically could. Then I’d walk away. Then later I’d come back to it and I have found that those times of “rest” gave me time to emotionally detach from items.
During those rest times I could ask myself things like, “how long has it really been since you used that?” or “do you really love that thing?” or “is there someone who could use it or love it more than me?”
It was when I took the pressure off myself to decide RIGHT THEN that I could more easily let things go.
It would be during those times of rest that I would be inspired. I might think of someone who would really love an item. Or I might think of a wonderful way to donate it. Or I might think of a way to display and get the item out where I could enjoy it everyday. Or I might just be able to discard it with peace.
See, that feeling of peace is my compass, my guide. I have found that giving myself time to “come to peace” about an item means that I have no regrets. I don’t think back about something I threw out in haste and say, “dang, I wish I would have kept that!”
If I don’t feel peace about, I just can’t bring myself to do it – whether it’s keeping an item or discarding an item.
Think about it this way, if you love something, you can’t just stop loving it in a second. (Of course I’m not talking about the junk in your life, but when you get down to those emotionally charged items, you have to give yourself time to be able to let them go.)
So, if you’re overwhelmed and you don’t think you can do this, just know that you’re not crazy, you’re not an obsessive hoarder, you’re just a person who cares and that’s a wonderful thing.
So, give yourself some time. Take a break.
And when you feel peace about keeping or discarding an item you’ll know it’s right. Trust yourself.
What you want from minimalism will come – in time.