Since my previous blog post about minimalism, I have been making time to declutter my living space and go through my stuff by asking myself a series of simple and direct questions.
- When was the last time I wore/used this?
- Will I honestly wear/use this in the next 6 months?
- Is this useful to me?
- Does this bring me joy?
You can make up your own questions when de-cluttering, but these are the questions that work for me personally. Once you are clear and honest with yourself, you are on the right track. Since starting my minimalism journey, I have discovered that getting rid of things isn’t as easy as I had anticipated. Some things are a lot harder to get rid of than others. For me it’s clothing & shoes.
Two days ago I decided to finally start going through my wardrobe. At first, I found it relatively easy, I had quite a few items that I was happy to donate to local charity shops. But as my wardrobe started to dwindle down, the going got tough for me. I discovered clothing that I had forgotten all about (this tends to happen when you hoard clothes for years and years!) and I found myself reminiscing about the past when I held up an old dress I used to wear all the time.
I tried it on and realised it no longer fit me. I held on to this dress for a decade and I still expected it to fit me as snug as it did when I was a teenager. Hilariously, even though it didn’t zip up all the way anymore, I still wanted to keep it! Sentimental items are the hardest to rid of. In that moment I understood that it’s not the item we want to hold on to, it’s the feeling it used to give us and the memories attached to it.
In regards to clothing we hoard for years on end, I discovered that although these items remind us of certain events, time periods or memories, they can also make us feel horrible about ourselves. When I tried on that dress and realised that it no longer fit me, it made me feel bad about myself. Even though it’s silly to think my body wouldn’t have changed over the course of ten years. When I put on the dress, it no longer brought me joy. It no longer made me feel good about myself when I put it on. And then I finally saw it for what it was, fabric. It’s just a piece of fabric.
So, I donated it to a charity shop and decided to let someone else get value from it.
It was liberating!
Today I watched a very interesting and eye-opening TED Talks video about why we become so attached to things. Rewiring our brains to dissociate our feelings towards inanimate objects is difficult. We’ve been sold things all of our lives, we see adverts almost very minute of the day on our commutes to work, our social media feeds and even in the films we watch. In order avoid succumbing to these advertisements, we must become more aware. Awareness is the key to freeing ourselves from the illusion of advertisements and the want for useless things.
Delving into the world of minimalism has been a great joy for me so far. I have found that I feel lighter, less stressed, my awareness has increased and the act of letting go of things that no longer bring me joy is incredibly freeing. Although the de-cluttering process is bringing up a lot of feelings and emotions, it’s nice to actually begin to face my thoughts head on and be gentle with myself. Usually, if I feel a resistance when getting rid of something, I put it in a bag for a day or two and see how I feel later. More often than not, I conclude that the item is not of great importance to me. Sometimes, letting go is a process and there is no shame in that.
I just remind myself that it’s okay to let go.