“Imagine a life with less. Less stuff, less clutter, less stress and debt and discontent.”
– The Minimalists
January has come and gone, much like an old, beloved song on the radio. The same goes for many of the items in our home!
I sat on the floor of my son’s room, trash sack in hand, neatly folding his clothes into the bag. Suddenly, I found myself feeling a sense of sentimentality and a sense of loss. “What am I doing?” I thought to myself. “Why am I doing this? I can’t do this!” I paused, and without thought enshrouded the soft, green pajamas around my face; deeply inhaling my son’s scent. After several long minutes, I realized what had caused the abrupt sense of disquietude.
It felt as though I was throwing away a part of my son! As though I was about to lose something of great importance and value. Suddenly, the simple task of gathering together ill-fitting clothing seemed… difficult. But why?
Oftentimes we hold onto things to fill a certain void in our lives. We tell ourselves, “I simply cannot bring myself to part with this,” or “if I throw this out I’ll be losing a part of that person, or myself, or the memories tied to this item!”
There are copious amounts of reasons as to why people have a difficult time letting go of their belongings:
- The item(s) hold certain sentimental value
- We feel guilt over the amount spent on that item, whether we bought it ourselves, or it was gifted to us
- We worry we may need the item in the near future
- The item becomes a “someday” item, meaning we tell ourselves, “someday I’m going to become a seamstress and will need all of this fabric!“
- We struggle with an obsessive-compulsive disorder
- We struggle with hoarding
Based on a scientific study done over a 23-year span by Jack Samuels at John Hopkins University, not all people who have OCD are hoarders. “Now, we know that only one-third of people with OCD exhibit hoarding behavior, that many people without OCD hoard, and we suspect that genes can play a key role in it.“
My reasoning for not wanting to discard my son’s clothing was nary so momentous as someone struggling with hoarding or OCD. Alas, I couldn’t help but feel sharp pangs of guilt weighing heavily upon my heart.
“So what do I do now?“
“How do I move past these feeling?”
“Is this ok that I’m feeling this way, should I be feeling this way?”
I took a deep breath, inhaling through my nose and exhaling through my mouth. I let my eyes fall shut and at that moment, a small giggle heedlessly egressed from my lips. I opened my eyes and said to myself, “it’s just stuff… that’s all it is!” Once I heard these words I repeated them aloud, again… and again… and again.
Everything I was experiencing was perfectly normal, and I’d given myself the few moments required to feel what I was feeling. I knew if I wanted to truly continue on this journey I had begun, I had to be stronger than my emotions. I had to set my emotions to the side and allow logic to play its part. I couldn’t allow the things filling our home to control me.
With a renewed sense of purpose, I took the green pajamas that belonged to my son and plunged them into the large white sack. As an added encouragement I asked myself, “what is it that has brought me to this point?”
- I had established my goal at the beginning of the year; to live a calm, minimalistic, peaceful life!
- I am a person who enjoys doing research before diving into anything. I began by watching the documentary on Netflix, The Minimalists.
- I had the respect and support of my loved ones.
- I expanded upon my main goal and made it a point to get rid of one unnecessary thing each day.
- Each time I felt any sort of hesitation to discard something in my home, I paused and closed my eyes. Telling myself and asking myself, “It’s just stuff! Is this something you truly need? Is this something deeply sentimental? Can I live without it?”
- I made two very strict rules for myself: #1. If I’ve not seen it or used it for 6 months or more, then it needs to go. #2. Once the item is in the bag or box, it cannot come out!
- And finally, refusing to give up!