Inside: Here you’ll find the first in a Q & A series called “Ask a Minimalist.” I’ll be addressing frequently asked questions regarding minimalism, decluttering, and all things simplicity.
Letting go and moving toward a more simplified life can be ironically complicated. Especially when you’re so used to running full steam ahead in the opposite direction. Slowing down and changing course takes effort. Sometimes more than it should. I receive a lot of questions on the topics of minimalism and decluttering. Honestly, it’s my favorite part of this whole blogging thing. Helping others get uncluttered fills me up.
This is the first of a series of monthly articles sharing my answers to many of those questions. I’ll often see the same questions over and over from different readers. Sometimes it’s nice to know you aren’t the only one struggling with a concept.
If you have a question, share it in the comments or message me on Instagram.
Letting Go of Gifts and Sentimental Items:
Q: “Do you have any advice on getting rid of gifts? I am a sentimental person and am already having a hard time letting go of things that were given to us even though I don’t like them at all! Unfortunately, these gifts take up a lot of space in our house. I’m not sure how to avoid offending family and friends.” -Alyssa
A: That is a great question and one that can be tricky to navigate. I can tell you from experience that the more you let go of, the more confident you’ll grow in your decision to get rid of items no matter where they came from.
However, I’d suggest starting with non gift items first to help you grow in confidence. Unless you’re talking about decades old wedding gifts. Then it’s okay to let it go now! We had tupperware, salad bowls, fancy cutting boards and crystal bowls stacked up in our basement from our wedding in 2004! Stuff we had never, ever used.
When it comes to letting go of sentimental items, it helps to picture myself with my arms overflowing with stuff. If I insist on holding on to all of it, there is no room for anything new. To be present and receive what is good today, I have to make room. Which means I have to let go.
In order to do that we have to decide which items hold the most value to us. For example, I let go of some of my grandmother’s trivets. Not because I’m a horrible person, but because they weren’t practical and they weren’t doing anybody any good wrapped in tissue paper at the bottom of a box. I didn’t let them go on day number one. Instead I waited until I had experienced the benefits of letting go long enough to know that I didn’t need these in my life to keep my grandma close to my heart.
Now, I don’t let go of everything. But if we make everything sentimental than really, nothing is. Does that make sense?
Going forward I’d suggest you openly talk about your new minimalist journey with your friends and family. Share what your doing and why. Be careful not to make it sound like you’re only getting rid of the stuff you hate. Let them know you are mostly letting go of items that have served their purpose and you no longer need. I found that when you share your heart and your WHY, people rarely ask for a list of exactly what you’ve gotten rid of.
For more on this subject:
Sharing Minimalism With Our Friends & Family
Q: “I’d love to know more about how to bring others along on the minimalist journey.” – Sal
A: The most effective way to bring others along on the minimalist journey is to lead by example. I know that’s not really what we want to hear. It’s tempting to try and speed up the process by forcefully dragging them along with us. However, it just doesn’t work that way.
I think back to my own story of becoming a minimalist. There is no way someone could have forced me to slow down and let go. I had to come to the conclusion on my own. Let your minimalist lifestyle speak for itself. Let the way you live be a shining example of how living with less can lead to so much more.
That said, I do have a few tips and tricks up my sleeve that just may help speed up the process a bit.
In these posts below I suggest things like incentivizing, providing positive reinforcement, boundaries and most of all, patience.
For more on this subject read:
The Environmental Impact of Letting Go
Q: “I’m slowly decluttering and didn’t realize how much stuff I had! The big thing I’m struggling with is the guilt. I try and give as much as I can to Goodwill, but there are still so many trash sacks going to the dump and it really makes me sad as I feel I’m contributing more to hurting the environment. Can you give me any tips or advice because I think it’s a big reason why I’m finding it hard to throw stuff away? I really do want minimalism, but I’m struggling.”
A: Oh I know exactly what you mean! This is how I rectify it in my mind…
The stuff in my home already exists. It will one day end up in a dump. Either now or when I’m dead. There is just no way around it. I choose now, so that I can go forward living more minimally.
I let the difficultly of letting go work for me rather than make me feel guilty by preventing me from accumulating like this ever again. From now on, I get to make better purchasing decisions and become more intentional with what I add to my life.
Letting go now also gives me the opportunity to raise my kids to live more minimally and make better purchasing decisions themselves. Therefore, raising more environmentally responsible kids!
It’s still hard work, but I’ve found this to help a lot. Becoming more conscious consumers going forward is our chance to make an even bigger impact on the environment for the better. Plus it’s the only way to maintain this lifestyle and not get stuck in the decluttering cycle.
For More Information on this topic read:
For more inspiration
Declutter Your Life
3 years ago I was overwhelmed with my life, while growing more underwhelmed with it’s direction by the second. It felt as though all of my time and energy was going toward the accumulation and management of STUFF. What little time I had left over went toward overbooking and overcommitting my family to all.the.thing!
When introduced to the concept of minimalism and everything changed!
Living with less will gift you the time, space and much needed perspective to put the things that truly matter most first. If you’d like some help getting started download my FREE Beginner’s Guidebook to: Declutter Like a Minimalist. It takes a deep dive into the 7 important steps to getting started as highlighted in my popular post, Declutter Like a Minimalist.
It’s time to stop managing our families and start leading them!