So as some of you might know, I’ve been on a huge minimalism kick. (me and the rest of the internet…). But really, it started a little over a year ago, and I’ve really started getting serious about it. After dabbling in it, I now believe it’s a sickness. Minimalism is a self-inflicted sickness that gets better with time (and action). So I wanted to share a little bit about the mental process I’ve been going through as I purge my possessions on my journey toward minimalism.
It started with a feeling of helplessness.
Obviously, it took some time to build up to this, but after accumulating decades of stuff, I began running out of storage. My items began overflowing into my basic living space. Eventually, my kitchen was also my office, my mudroom was my dresser, and my living room was a maze of items that’s probably didn’t even belong in my house. Needless to say, my place was a mess, but that wasn’t the only problem. It was also simply too small for all the stuff.
Normally at this point, I’d just start boxing up items and shoving them into the basement or wherever else I could find out of sight. But this time, those spaces were full. And that’s when it hit me. I felt suffocated. Overwhelmed. I found myself wishing a natural disaster would occur — that something out of my power would come and take care of this problem I’d created. The problem of too much stuff.
This was when I knew I had a problem. I genuinely wished my things would be destroyed. I know how strange that sounds, but this feeling was real. Quite frankly, it still is real. This was the realization I needed to help change the way I saw my possessions. If I was okay with them being destroyed in a natural disaster, then why couldn’t I throw them away or donate them? I later learned, it was because I still saw VALUE in them. I believed that throwing away items was like throwing away money. As a business woman and entrepreneur, this was very hard for me.
So the first step in my journey to minimalism was deciding I was OKAY with throwing away ‘money’.
Step 1 to Minimalism: Cut your losses
To get over this hurdle, I convinced myself I needed to ‘cut my losses’ on the items. Seriously – I viewed this just like a business transaction. These items were a loss, there was no value to be gained and no benefit to keep them. In fact, they were doing more harm than good, because the mess caused me stress. So thus, my journey began… I started with the low hanging fruit first. Influenced by the KonMari method, I began sorting items into catagories and deciding if they brought ‘joy’ to my life. While I didn’t follow her methods perfectly (and I still don’t), it helped me to feel the gentle release as I let items go.
Sell or donate? How to decide:
Larger pieces of furniture seemed to be harder to donate for me. I think the feeling of value was too great, yet I knew I didn’t want these items in my life. So I started selling the larger items for $30, $50, or $100 each. At first it felt great! But quickly I learned the downside to this method: Selling items takes time, (depending on where you live). So what would happen is I would decide to part with an item, and I’d end up storing it in my house, waiting for it to sell. And while I waited… my momentum slowed. And slowed.. and slowed. I began living my life around the mess of items, just hoping to put $30 bucks in my pocket. That leads to my next step:
Step 2 to Minimalism: Build Momentum
I finally decided the time storing items while waiting for them to sell wasn’t worth the money. For me, momentum was everything. As soon as an item was physically out of my house (in the garbage or dropped off at Goodwill), I felt a new surge of energy. Really, no joke here — It felt AMAZING. Each item out of my life was a release of pressure I didn’t even know was there. Can you imagine that? Imagine strapping 4 bricks to your back, and every time an item leaves, a brick does too. It really was that real to me. After the first few items, I was a woman on a mission. This is the momentum I’m talking about.
Step 3 to Minimalism: Purge, Purge, Purge
This is where the ‘sickness’ comes in. Let the sickness take over you. You’ll know when minimalism has it’s hold on you, because you’ll walk through your space and all you can see are things you DON’T want. My advice is to act on this impulse. If you see something you don’t want – that doesn’t bring you joy – then grab it and put it in a box to donate. Below is a photo of a my current donate tote. These are all items I added TODAY.
I try to get the items out of my home as quickly as possible, and once they’re in the trash or donate pile, I don’t pull them back out. Each item is a weight off. I Feel better today than I’ve felt in years, and I still have such a long ways to go.
If you’re interested in following my journey, you can check out my youtube channel: Youtube.com/MessyMinimalist