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Over the past few months I have been on a serious mission to minimize my possessions and simplify my home. I have met a lot of people are interested in doing the same thing, and even some of my friends have been inspired to start decluttering their houses.
I am a minimalist by nature, so it’s easy for me to declutter and I feel awesome when I get rid of stuff! But for a lot of people they have memories, sentiments, and emotions tied to their possessions. I think the biggest reason people accumulate too much, and then struggle with minimizing is because they have project sentimental value onto stuff.
Now some of the value that is placed is logical. Maybe you have something from a family member who passed away and every time you see it or use it good memories of that person come flooding back. That’s totally understandable. But some people attach very illogical emotions to items.
Keeping every piece of artwork your children have ever scribbled, amassing a huge collection of figurines that you don’t really love but they were passed down from family.
“I can be a minimalist with everything except my books!”
So how can you get past the emotional attachment and actually declutter?
Assess Your Values
Minimalism is not for everyone. If it is truly a goal of yours, then keeping 300 books or 40 pairs of shoes is not in line with those principles. If you are merely looking to downsize some of your possessions and get organized, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But that is not minimalism, its organization. Minimizing eliminates the need to organize because there is not more stuff than space, and everything is functional to the space and lifestyle.
Focus On What Really Matters
When my great-grandmother passed away she didn’t have a lot of earthly possessions. But there was a huge swoop of vultures on what little she did have. A few weeks before she died my great-grandmother gave me a small glass candy dish. I had a lot of great memories with my great grandma and that little glass Candy dish means more to me than any piece of jewelry or real estate. It was something that she wanted me to have to remember her by. I did not keep the giant box of costume jewelry that I was given after she passed. It was nothing that I would wear myself, and it didn’t have any value or meaning to it. They were just items that she happened to own.
The most important thing is the memories that you share with that person, whether they are dead or alive, having a physical object will not enhance or take away those memories and experiences. When you are so attached to an object that you are willing to trade orderliness and peace just to keep that object somewhere in your home, you have to recognize that that isn’t healthy. I did keep the candy dish, and I display it on my bookshelf. But if it were gone tomorrow, that wouldn’t in any way affect my memory of my great grandmother or detract from the real treasure which was the time I got to spend with her.
Possessions Are Temporary
After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content. – 1 Timothy 6:7-8
Put your value in people NOT things. This is really the basis of all minimalism. Stuff is functional, not emotional. And even if you don’t aspire to be a minimalist, breaking that relationship with stuff is a healthy step to living intentionally and for eternity.