Back in January, we decided as a family to get rid of half of our things for our New Year’s resolution to help us cut down on clutter. The whole concept of minimalism was completely new at the start. Letting go of things is hard. I am not a minimalist. I definitely have hoarder potential. At the start of this project I had 36 scarves. I guess I like to have options… or I am just really and truly terrible at getting rid of things.
The project started out great. We donated three truckloads worth of stuff to our local Habitat for Humanity “Re-store”, and donated clothes to the Goodwill store. We have boxes in our basement filled with things waiting for our next donation trip or yard sale. Our closets have thinned, but we’re nowhere near reaching that halfway mark.
I tell you what…after 5 months, progress is slow. Really slow. Almost at a standstill in fact.
Going through closets and drawers one at a time is easy. Tossing trash, donating things never used, and selling objects that you have no attachment to is easy. Making extra money off of Craigslist and eBay makes the hassle seem worth it.
One day though, your reach a point where you still have So. Much. Stuff. And one million excuses as to why you are holding on to each and every item. Why is so hard to get rid of things? Why do we hold onto items that we never use? Why do we have so much clutter?
I Justify Each and Every Item with One of the Following Excuses:
- I know it just sits there collecting dust, but it’s a family heirloom. (Insert deceased relative’s name here) would be mortified if they knew I got rid of it.
- I remember when (insert living relative’s name here) gave this to me for (insert special occasion). I couldn’t possibly donate or sell it. They put so much thought and money into the gift.
- I spent so much money on that. I hate the thought of selling it at a yard sale and only making back 1/10 the cost of what I spent on it originally. I’d really rather just hang onto it.
When looking to say goodbye to all of these things that have such a stronghold on you, the emotional struggle is real. While dealing with these three scenarios, I have found one simple question that has really helped me to make the decision to let go.
“Do I find the item to be beautiful or know it to be useful?”
If the answer to this essential question is no, I find it easier to let go. If the object in question does not make me happy, then it goes. If it isn’t useful, it goes. Sentiment behind an item is all well and good if you have a place for it in your home and in your life. If you are living with minimal square footage though, or have just made the decision to live with less, then you need to make the tough decisions.
Is the item that you think of as an heirloom one of a kind and irreplaceable? Then hang onto it to pass on to your kids. If it is easily found elsewhere, not useful, and was really just given to you, then maybe you should think about letting it go. For example, I have lace made by my great-grandmother that I will never let go of, despite the fact that I hardly ever touch it. It is special, made with love, and passed down from mother to daughter for four generations. It’s priceless, and I won’t ever get rid of it. Other things, like little figurines given to us by family, don’t mean as much. Those little decorations may have been special once, but they are replaceable. They weren’t hand-made with love, so we have decided to let them go.
When it comes to gifts given, or items purchased, just let go. If you don’t use them, touch them, or if they have no place in your everyday life, let someone else get some enjoyment from them. Make what money you can off of Craigslist, eBay, or a yard sale, and cut the losses. Realizing how much money you may have wasted on things will make you more mindful in the future about what you’re spending your hard-earned money on. Once you learn to let go, it gets easier and easier.
I’m a slow learner at this whole minimalism thing, but so far, every bit of the project has been worth it. I have a lot of tough decisions ahead of me, but I’m ready and willing for the challenge. I’m even down to 18 scarves.
Editor’s Note: Kristi and I are a lot alike, at least in some of the things she says in this post, haha. I decluttered my scarves the other day too and I’m now down to a “mere” 20. EEK!
Do you have a minimalist mindset? What excuses do you find yourself using to justify keeping your stuff?