I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my discovery of minimalism. I’m constantly evaluating what propelled me to make this decision. The decision to let go and learn to find value beyond what I own. How did I get into this minimalist mindset and learn to live with less?
There’s a problem I’ve seen arise in the recent boom of minimalism. It’s almost become a negative-focused experience. People write and speak in negatives. Even I’ve done it. It’s all about don’t and won’t and shouldn’t. It’s all about the no’s.
“You can’t have this” and “you shouldn’t do that” and blah blah blah. Which is so disappointing because in its core, minimalism is such a life changing, positive experience for so many people. I think sometimes us minimalists get so wrapped up in all the exciting parts of minimalism that we forget what it was like when you’re first starting out. We forget all the negative hurdles you have to go through and how you constantly feel like you have to focus on the loss while sticking to specific rules.
So for anyone starting their minimalist journey, or even current minimalists that need a little mindset boost, I want to offer a different perspective for a more positive minimalism mindset.
SO, OBVIOUSLY, THE MAIN PART OF MINIMALISM IS GETTING RID OF WHAT YOU DON’T NEED.
There are two questions for every minimalist to live by. But when we ask those questions, we are usually asking to decide if we should get rid of each item. We go into the process thinking about all the stuff we’re going to give away. It’s all focused on the negative, the loss, the grief. Maybe that sounds dramatic, but when you really get into the purge, you’ll find yourself grieving a little. Grieving for the things you’ve grown attached to, grieving for the person you were holding onto. I know, I’m making minimalism sound like the best, right? But see, that’s my point. It has started to sound more like deprivation than the freeing lifestyle change it really is.
I think, even those of us that went into minimalism thinking it was all about the stuff, we quickly learn that there is so much more to it. You come out of the process knowing yourself better. You discover that there were real emotions hiding behind every item. There is a part of our most inner-selves in every decisions we make. Every item we own says something about who we are and what we think about ourselves. This is everything that starts to be revealed as we’re letting go of our things.
So how is it that in a world of, what seems like deprivation, do people find a way to feel that positive change? Honestly, it’s all in the mindset.
THE MINIMALIST MINDSET
To start seeing the positives in minimalist, it’s time to change your perspective. To stop focusing on the loss.
When you go through a purge, don’t ask yourself, “what do I want to give away?”
Instead ask, “what do I really need?”
Minimalism is a way to discover yourself. Make yourself everything you truly want to be, not what you think you should be. Think of your home as a little flea market that you are shopping around in. When going through each item, don’t go through the list of reasons why your should give it away. Instead, think about who you are right now and where you want to be. Look around your home and keep the things that help you to be that person.
The reality is, if you’re taking on minimalism whole heartedly, you should be going into every purge with extreme skepticism. You should have the mindset of “everything must go.” Thinking in terms of “what do I need?” paired with the mentality of “everything must go” can give the items you keep so much more meaning. You can walk away from the experience knowing that you have good reason for each item.
I think when you focus so much on just getting rid of things, there’s a little feeling that comes up that makes you want to protect your belongings. You want to protect your resources. When you tell your self, “I’m getting rid of stuff today,” you have all these alarms going off giving reasons for why you need things that don’t matter.
Telling yourself, “I’m discovering who I am” will silence those alarms and put down those defenses. You’re not telling yourself you’re getting rid of resources. You’re making it all about gaining things that will help you to be more yourself.
The grief will subside. The loss will no longer be the focus.
This mindset can bring a whole new attitude to minimalism that really highlights the positive and gives you an opportunity to go into your purge without fighting your instincts every step of the way.
So remember, it’s all about deciding what you truly need.
Photo by Kara Michelle