Giving Yourself Permission To Break Up With Your Stuff

 

It's that time of year again. Warmer weather. Daffodils. Basketball brackets. Puddles. And...spring cleaning.

If you're anything like me, you're ready for a reset. Clearing out the old and unused, opening windows for fresh air, looking forward to clean surfaces. But sometimes even though we are ready to kill the clutter and start fresh, we encounter that thing that derails our momentum.

It's different for everyone. Maybe it's a beautiful dress you bought on clearance but never wore. Maybe it's a nice toy your parents got for the kids but they're not actually interested in playing with it. Maybe it's a set of ugly dishes you inherited and feel obligated to keep out of respect for those who've passed away. Maybe it's the boat in the garage that you paid good money for but instead of taking it out, it's quietly collecting dust and requiring maintenance. Whatever it is, give yourself permission to break up with it

For me, breaking up with things in my life meant ending magazine subscriptions, selling our hot tub, not finishing books I wasn't interested in, culling our kid's puzzles, and getting rid of dry-clean only clothes I would never wear again.

I love these lines from Marie Kondo's book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up:

 
We’ve all spent more than a little money on something that goes unused, unworn, unloved. The guilt of acquiring it in this case is only rivaled by the guilt in letting it go. So you keep the guitar, ill-fitting boots or ugly painting because, well, it cost you. But the fact is, it’s still costing you—and continues to the longer you keep it because you’re essentially paying its rent. Rather than beat yourself up over it or chain yourself to an expensive item for life, break up with it. Look at it and say, simply, thank you for your service. Whatever purpose that item had has been fulfilled, and it’s time to part ways. You learned the lesson; the money is gone. Forgive yourself, too, and send it back out into the world from whence it came—whether you toss, recycle, donate, or sell it.
— Marie Kondo

TRUTH. It cost you - and it's still costing you. It's time to let it go. 

Some good rules of thumb when breaking up?

If you bought it yourself, get rid of it post haste by donating. Don't sell. Unless it will bring in a fair amount of money ($100+) it's just not worth the effort of listing it and meeting with someone to buy it. Most people think their stuff is more valuable than it is so they hang on to it, storing it in the basement, garage, or attic, and then never fully get rid of it. It's hovering, not in use, but not gone. Break up. Experience the gratification of having it gone and enjoying your clear space. You will be so glad you did! (Finding a good cause can help you let go, too. For instance, I donated my business professional wardrobe to the Lydia House at Open Door Mission which helps battered women dress for job interviews. Win-win!)

But it was a gift, you say? Gifts are acts of love by the giver. Once they have been received with gratitude by the receiver (you), it is yours to do with what you will. A gift given with strings attached is not a gift - it's a bribe. And a burden. Use discretion and grace here. You don't need to notify the giver that their gift (their love) isn't wanted, but this is your life and home, not theirs. Educational toys in good shape can often be given new life through libraries and other centers, as can books.

Heirlooms are another story. If you have inherited something special that belonged to your family (whether valuable or not), you should always offer it back to the family so someone else can treasure it. If there is no family left, antique stores and thrift stores are great options, and if it's worth decent money, you can list it to sell independently.

We love this minimalist life of ours, but cultivating a life of less can be work. However, by making the decisions to eliminate the clutter and unnecessary possessions, we can enjoy the life we want now. A fuller, happier life with less. A sifted life.

Are you ready for a break up?