Letting Go: Material Things

I’m by no means claiming to be a minimalist. I am, however, owning up to the fact that my material possessions clearly need to be downsized.

To look at my home, you’d think, “Ah, she has an average amount of stuff. Not exactly a hoarder or anything. It might be a little cluttered but that’s normal.”

But the truth is, so many of the things I own are more of a burden than a blessing. That t-shirt from college (that’s way too small now) started out as a memento from my younger years, the friends I had and the things I experienced. It has now become something I simply have to push aside again and again and again in order to find the shirt that actually fits and I actually want to wear. “But I can’t get rid of it now! I’ve had it for almost 10 years!” And actually never worn it during that time. But somehow it has still made its presence known on a daily basis when I have to move it once again.

Oh, and don’t even get me started on how many Christmas decorations I have. I put up one tree…I have enough ornaments to furnish about 20. Not. Even. Kidding.

So what would my life be like without this stuff? Would I open my closet, reach directly for the shirt I want, then have to sit down and mourn the college t-shirt that’s no longer there? Would I have a sudden case of amnesia and not be able to remember anything I did in college? I doubt it.

Would I fix some hot chocolate, turn on Christmas music, and  feel in the Christmas spirit, ready to decorate my tree, only to be disappointed that the dusty box of fragile glass ornaments was not there to join me? I mean, I never used them…not even once…but would their absence turn me into Scrooge? Probably not.

So why do I hold onto these things?

Sometimes it’s the fact of, “if I need them later, I won’t have to buy them.” Or the age old argument of, “Maybe I’ll use it one day…” or “but it’s special and I can’t replace it.”

Let’s get real. If someone broke into my home and stole everything I owned, would my first thought be, “Oh no! They took the ornaments and the t-shirt!” Nu-uh.

Therefore, these things are not as important to me as I seem to think they are. Time to let them go.

I started out with this goal a few weeks ago and I’ve made a little progress. Here’s my method:

  1. Pick a small area and work for whatever time frame I have (be it 15 minutes or be it 2 hours.)
  2. Work my way through, removing anything that I clearly don’t want or really need. For example, a thrift store pair of jeans that refuses to button or the baggy shirt that falls off of me that I bought at a yard sale.
  3. Get rid of things that maybe I haven’t used in a while or doesn’t suit me or my needs anymore. (All those mini-skirts I’ll never wear again…gone!)
  4. Next, sort through the sentimental things. (We meet again, college t-shirt…) Decide if it is serving its intended purpose. When I see that shirt do I think, “Man, college was fun!” or “Uh…too small!” I’ve read about a method of decluttering where you speak to each piece and thank it for it’s time and work it did for you. It kinda sounds silly and there’s no way I’d have enough time to talk to all of my things, but when I’ve been holding on to something for so long just because I felt like I was obligated, sometimes it helps just to say it out loud.
  5. Next comes the hard part. Now I am left with things that I obviously feel will be useful, things that can and will serve it’s purpose in my life and I still have too much. Now comes the next great question in decluttering. “Does this bring me joy?” Let’s say you have a hoodie. It fits, it’s in good shape, and it can serve a purpose in your life. The only catch? It belonged to an ex. Wearing it doesn’t particularly make you happy but it does keep you warm. It’s probably time to let it go.
  6. Get rid of it ASAP. I’m a sucker for setting stuff back to give to somebody else or to have a yard sale with but I’ve found that the longer stuff hangs around, the more it stresses me out and the less I want to get rid of in the future. Make it a point to get the unwanted stuff out of your life as quickly as you can. Drop it off at a thrift store or a church clothing charity. Just do something with it that gets it out of your life.

I hope that by letting these material things go I’ll be able to enjoy more of what I keep. I hope to spend less time digging through things I’ll never use and more time to spend on things that make me happy.

And I hope that, today, you find strength to let go of something weighing you down, too.

Check out earlier posts in the Letting Go Series: 

Letting Go

Letting Go: Things I Can’t Change

Letting Go: Dead End Dreams


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