posted by Sarah Chia
Yesterday, I asked our Facebook community what the hardest thing to purge has been for them. There were varied responses – from books to music to DVDs to congressmen.
Some of the things are areas that I would never have a problem purging. Others are areas that I could relate to, and it brought to mind a couple of points.
First of all, it reminded me of how important it is to understand individuals as individuals and to remember that journeys in life, whether simplicity or something else, are not one-size-fits-all ventures. They are molded and shaped by who we are, even as they are molding and shaping who we become. It’s important, I believe, to accept where others are and to appreciate the differences we all bring to the table. While we may struggle with different aspects of simplicity, we also flourish in different areas and we can learn from each other and encourage one another to grow.
The other strong point that came to my mind was the idea that the journey to simplicity is truly that – a journey. Simplicity isn’t just about throwing things out (or giving away or selling). The reasons that we have the things in the first place need to be dealt with.
Perhaps it is a desire to fit in or keep up with the Joneses. For someone who has found their worth in whether others are impressed with them, it will be a hard step to take to begin finding their inherent worth instead. It’s not a switch we can just flip.
It’s the same with those who are holding on to things in the past because of sentimental reasons. As someone who lost her mother in the last year, I can definitely understand this aspect of it. I’ve never considered myself to be very sentimental, but I have found that I enjoy seeing items that bring back memories of my mom. Were I not already so deep into my own simplicity-seeking, I would be much more tempted to keep everything. As it is, I must rely strongly on my mental knowledge that my memories are in my mind and not in an item. But then, I wrestle with the fear that my memories will fade without triggers to keep them active. Overcoming sentiment is a process that we need to work though. It’s not a switch we can just flip.
All of this points to one simple and important guideline: purging takes time to be done effectively.
Not only can it take time to work through some of the reasons that you are keeping things, but it can also take time as you continue to deal with your decisions after you purge. Sometimes, emotions come up after the fact and you ask yourself if you should really have let go of that item. A situation may arise where you could have used it again, and you kick yourself for purging. At that point, it’s important to recount your reasons and work through the purging process all over again – this time purging the doubts and the continued emotional attachment to material possessions.
I think you get the point. It takes time. It’s not as easy as just loading up a bag to be done with it. So, if you are in the process of starting a big purge, give yourself some time particularly on those things that are hard. This isn’t a free pass to keep your unhealthy ties to stuff. It’s just an encouragement to realize that your stuff is often deeply ingrained into your life, and life change is a lifelong endeavor.