Monday, 21 December 2015

Minimalism is not about the stuff

It's not, I promise.

The beauty of minimalism is that everyone has a personal definition and approach towards it. Which begs the question, how do you know if you are a minimalist?

Some days, especially when I'm drowning in the stuff, I have my doubtful days and minimalism just feels too hard. Like yesterday.

I was out to buy some birthday gifts for some upcoming birthdays within our families. The minimalist in me wanted to buy some "experience" type gifts instead of a material item but the old me just wanted to find the latest toys and be done with it.

The minimalist in me must have been napping because I ended up buying things for myself that I didn't intend to or really, REALLY need and this afternoon my house is feeling it. Of course my children also brought home all their school "stuff" from this past year and that stuff is EVERYWHERE.

minimalsm, simple living, declutter
The Stuff. It's everywhere.
The house was quite chaotic with stuff and I really didn't think a few things brought home from school and a few small items bought on a whim from the store would make that much difference. But it really does. Especially in a small home like mine.

How did this happen?? I had been doing so well for so long! I had gotten rid of what felt like SO MUCH stuff. Damn you Kmart and your awesome bargains! Honestly decluttering and getting rid of stuff is both addictive yet tiring. But decluttering has to coincide with not bringing more clutter in. But, truthfully, it’s not about the stuff. Okay, it is about letting go of stuff, but it is more about letting go of the deep connection and obsession with the stuff. I didn’t think I was obsessed with stuff. I thought I was drowning in stuff. Stuff just always seemed to be in the way of focusing on what was really important.

It comes down to a mindset. I haven't fully adjusted the wiring in my brain to be inclined towards minimalism. Aly over at Minimalism is Simple has 3 great tips on how to change your mind set. Three tips doesn’t sound like many but I’m telling you, it’s easier said than done.

If I really, really think about it, it's much easier for me to be a minimalist when money is tight. The second we have some spare cash lying around, nothing else matters and I just have to spend it. Even though we are currently (trying) to pay off our debts, I still think spending a few dollars here and there won't matter. But it really adds up to more stuff around the house and less money that could have been used for the debts.

If I really, really, really think back to how I was attracted to minimalism, it stemmed from always having things fall out of cupboards when I opened them, or not being able to shut a drawer or cupboard without having to stuff things in or constantly having to look for "stuff". I still remember when I bought an expensive jar of organic honey, which fell out of the cupboard and smashed on the floor and I never even got to have a taste. No one was hurt but I knew things had to change. I have found that minimalism really does extend to all parts of your life. Those over flowing cupboards were full of over processed foods that weren’t really good for us. When money permitted I shopped on a “just in case” way, buying multiples and extra items I didn’t really need.

Minimalism lets me really focus on what is important to us as a family.
The root of a “just in case” mindset is fear. Good decisions are never made out fear. I still sometimes find myself parenting out of fear.

Fear of what though? Fear of running out of food? It can’t be.

Daring Clarity has a great post on How to stop making fear based decisions. I love a good post that just wakes you up.

What trumps fear? Courage.

So, minimalism takes courage?

In a sense yes. Unless minimalism is all you have ever known, adopting this lifestyle will require change. For some it will require lots of very big changes. But it goes back to mindset. How important is minimalism to you? I think a really important question to address is

Why do you want to adopt minimalism?

In my previous post I mentioned how I was adopting minimalism before I really knew what it was.

I wanted a life of intention, direction, focus and purpose. I didn’t want to feel like my life was being lived for me on auto-pilot. I also wanted a streamlined, simple home life where I could find what I needed and wasn’t always picking up after everyone. I also want more financial freedom. I wanted more authenticity and transparency in my life.

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” 
– Hans Hofmann

With minimalism, you strip back to the bare basics and there is nowhere to hide. What on earth am I hiding from? Deep rooted insecurities? Fear of rejection? Not being good enough? Failure? Disappointment?

Being a parent comes with A LOT of expectations. Being a woman also comes with an overload of expectations. From yourself, family members, friends, colleagues and the wider community. Minimalism has slowly helped me lower what I expect of myself. I used to strive for such a high standard, I almost always set myself up for failure.

Whether it was keeping an immaculate house, ensuring my kids had all the “stuff” I thought they would ever need, cooking meals that met all of their nutritional needs, pushing the kids to get their homework finished as early as possible so they would never hand in their homework late. In the grand scheme of things, how important is all that stuff? Who really cares? Am I defined by those things? No. I’m not. As soon as you stop chasing the stuff and what you expect the stuff will give you, such as acceptance, validation, success, happiness, etc. stuff loses its value. Fast.

I’m slowly learning to let go of high, unattainable standards and other peoples approval. Good enough, is good enough for me. That makes me sound like a quitter but I’m not. I just understand that I am the determining factor in this equation. Not other people. Not the stuff. I determine my values, my happiness, my successes, my passions and my goals. My stuff really doesn't determine anything.

So will I really ever be a minimalist? Eventually.Will it be easy? No, but it will be worth it.

Minimalism, it couldn’t be any less about the stuff.

Step 92,

1 comment:

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