Downsizing your home. For some of us this is a daunting prospect. And yet, it is something that many, many of us will face at some point in our lives. I faced it some time ago, and have chronicled many of my emotional experiences in my book called The Upside of Downsizing: Getting to Enough, which you might find helpful if you’re facing the possibility of going to “much smaller.”
In order to get rid of lots and lots of things, I decided to have a garage sale. The process of gathering things, selling things, bargaining with people (whether something I paid quite a bit for should be sold for $2.00 or $2.50), and watching all that stuff go off with people I didn’t know, was very painful.
So, I’ve been thinking about all this quite a lot ever since that weekend. And what I think I find most amazing is this: I go shopping either to a store or online. I see something I want. I may or may not NEED it, but I want it, and so I buy it. I bring it home or it arrives. From the moment I hold it and look at it, it somehow becomes part of me. It’s mine. And when it comes time to part with it, that action can feel “wrenching,” especially if I don’t really want to part with it or if it has been one of my favorite things in some way. And when is this feeling not so intense? For me it’s when I am replacing the object with a shiny, new one.
I’m not talking about people and pets here. I’m talking about an inanimate object that we have bought and set down somewhere where it stayed until someone moved it. And I’m also not talking about those few things that, when we look at them, “spark joy,” as described by Marie Kondo in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I’m talking about all the rest of the stuff we have that is piled here and there, crowded into closets, drawers, attics, garages, or external storage units that we pay a not insignificant amount for every month. It’s all that stuff that still may cause us to cringe when we start to dispose of it. And THAT is what we need to explore.
At some level of my being, I know I am not my stuff and my stuff is not me. I mean, I think I know that—until it comes time to get rid of something. How about you?
Here are some questions that might help in that exploration:
- Does at least some of your stuff feel like part of you? If so, when did this happen? When you first got it, or after you had it for some time?
- What kinds of stuff are the hardest for you to get rid of? Kitchen stuff? Office stuff? Clothes? Shoes? Sports equipment? Hobby tools, e.g. cameras, lenses, bags? Memorabilia? Gifts? Family treasures?
- Who are you without all this stuff? What changes? Where in your body do you feel that loss?
- How exactly does it feel to get rid of stuff that you really like, yet doesn’t “spark joy” even though you don’t intend to replace it?
These aren’t necessarily easy questions for some of us to answer, so be gentle with yourself, and ask them one at a time over a couple of days.
If you or someone you know is getting ready to go through a significant downsizing, please email me at email@example.com. I’d be happy to set up some coaching calls to help with getting through this difficult time.