A little while ago I wrote a post about minimalism which I was very happy about, however I realised that since posting it I’ve kind of changed my position around the subject. I still believe that minimalism is not necessarily about owning two t-shirts, but more about realising what’s important to you and surrounding yourself with possessions that make you happy rather than weigh you down.
When we moved into our Wellington apartment I felt satisfied with the amount of things I’d kept from London. I thought I actually needed all of them. However, over the past months, I’ve been feeling the need to downsize even more, and now not a day goes by without me going through my wardrobe and trying to get rid of one or two items.
I have to say it’s been getting easier and easier for me. However, as many other wannabe minimalists, I also have encountered the dilemma of the infamous bunch of things I’m emotionally attached to. My Grandma’s wool jumper, too big and itchy to wear; a pile of books I haven’t read yet and probably will never read; some prints stashed at the back of my wardrobe, because I don’t have enough walls to hang them; a bunch of old toys and knick-knacks that sit in a forgotten box, gathering dust. Basically, a whole lot of things that I never use or wear but that I feel too guilty to let go of.
In view of possibly travelling and/or moving at some point in the future, I decided I want to simply have less stuff. So here is my piece of advice I myself am trying to follow to let go of things.
- The three piles
If you have done even the tiniest research on how to become a minimalist, surely you’ve heard this one before. Gather your possessions and make three piles: things you keep, things you chuck, and things you’re not sure about. (This really works.)
Now, you want to focus on the Things You’re Not Sure About pile. This is where I put all the things I’m emotionally attached to. Once they are all gathered, I make sure that this pile is hidden out of sight: under the bed, in a storage room, in the garden shed. If after a month I haven’t thought of or reached for any of those items, they get moved to the Things I Chuck pile, and they are out of my life.
- Associate bad memories to things
When it comes to something that I clearly don’t need or use and I do want to get rid of it yet I’m afraid I would miss it, I try to associate a bad memory to it. That way, I end up actually not being able to wait to get rid of that particular item, because why would you want to keep something that brings back sad memories anyway?
(For me it normally works to associate ex boyfriends to stuff. If an ex boyfriend gave it to me, there’s no way I’m gonna miss it.)
- Everything can be replaced
Finally, if you do get rid of something and end up missing or needing it, remember that you can just get a new one. And if you think you really want that particular thing because it had an emotional value, try to dissociate the emotional value from it and see the item for its functional value instead. Do you miss that particular vase that your great-grand-auntie gave you? Surely you can find something else to put your flowers in. And the fact that you still remember your great-grand-auntie’s vase means you haven’t lost the memory of it.