The Emotional Upside of Downsizing

Have you ever thought about what needs to be done around your house and suddenly felt overwhelmed?  You know, that point when you’re thinking of all the things in the garage or the crawlspace, all the closets and maybe in even in extra bedrooms that just take up space.

Do they need to be dusted if they’re on display?  Are they seasonal and need to be changed out?  Are they items that you used once upon a time, but now just sit there abandoned and alone.  Could someone else put those things to good use?

Answering ‘Yes’ to any of these questions means that you may be emotionally ready to downsize.

As in, you are ready to have less “stuff” sitting around your house… filling up those cabinets, falling out of drawers and rendering garages and crawl spaces virtually useless.

You may be thinking of selling your home and you want to be ready to move without needing to rent a tractor-trailer (or two) to haul your belongings.

You want to narrow the things in your life down to what you love and need the most, no more and no less.

These are all great reasons to downsize and benefits that you will indeed very much enjoy on the other side of the “big purge.”

But did you know there’s a lot more to downsizing and minimizing than just extra space?

Are you aware that the amazing emotional and spiritual cleansing that happens when you get rid of clutter may just be even more rewarding than the cleared-out closet?

The Big Purge

Tackling the ‘big purge’ takes courage and commitment, there’s no doubt about it.  You’ll have to commit to sorting through every extraneous item you own and then have the courage to part with it, either by passing it down to a family member or good friend, selling it or donating it.  Then you have to double down the courage to keep the commitment to part with it.

Now here you may ask, “what the heck are you talking about, Micahel?”  But hear me out.

You’ll actually have to let those items go, physically, from your hands.  You have to commit to having the courage of not changing your mind as you go to hand it to whoever you gave, sold or donated it to.  Yes, I’m on to you and I’ve seen it before.  Your intention is there, a great intention, but when the moment comes to let go of your treasure, stick with it.  That’s where the courage comes in.

You’ll also be doing this numerous times, again and again till you’ve finished that big purge.

The Big Six

1. Do I really need this?
Plain and simple, do you need it?  As long as you understand the difference between want and need, asking this question makes it fairly easy to de-clutter.

If not, you should ask

2.  Does this item bring me happiness?
Does Blender No. 3 make me happy or is it just taking up space in my already cluttered kitchen cabinets?   If the answer is no, – let it go.

3. Am I keeping this for ‘one day’ or ‘someday’?
One day I will be the same weight I was in 11th grand I’ll be able to fit into it.  Someday I will these 7 cans of nearly empty 90’s pastel paint for a DIY project. Stop waiting for “one day/someday.” Today is that day.  Can you fit into it today (and would you wear it out in public today?) and are you going to finish that DIY project today if no – say bye bye..if yes, please send us a picture because we feel this is something we’d just love to see.

4. Do I already have a similar item?
Now, this is the part where every golfer will say, I’m keeping my set of woods and my irons so next subject please and, well, okay but only if you use both.  Do you use both?  There are many things, however, where that same argument won’t hold true.  How many cell phones are you holding onto?  None?  Okay.  How many landline phones are stored in the garage?  How many calculators?  Bathmats?  Curtains?  Coolers?  This list can go on forever, but the questions you must ask yourself are:  How often do I use this item, if at all?  How many of them do I need?

5. Am I keeping these for personal/sentimental reasons?
This is probably the hardest one of all.  When an item reminds you of a loved one from your past, the first thing you should do is to try to find a use for that item or repurpose in a craft project or home décor.  When you have exhausted every idea and cannot find a use for it, say your goodbye to the object.  It is, after all, an object with a memory attached to it (not the person).  You’ll always carry the person with you in your heart.  Albert Einstein used to say, “If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal. Not to people or things.”  We hear he was pretty smart.

Here are a few ideas for giving sentimental items a new purpose:

  • Ask a family member if they would enjoy the item
  • Display the item in a nice frame in your home (preferably on the walls or shelves)
  • Start using the item every day (who says you can’t use that fine china every day)
  • Donate to a church or cause of your choice
  • Sell on eBay, Craigslist or antique stores
  • Use items in a craft/DIY project
  • Scan old photos or notes and upload to a cloud account or thumb drive

6. Why do I own this?
Finally, if all else fails and you’ve exhausted all of the above questions, simply ask, “Why do I have this?” What is the real reason you are unable to let it go?  Once you can figure out the answer, it will be easier to let go.

What You’ll Gain

Let’s play pretend.  We’ll pretend you’ve downsized all your ‘extra’ items and the ‘clutter’ in your home.  What does that life look like?

Well, for starters, if you decided to give away some items to family and friends you’ll see those items being used again.  Maybe your nephew has improved his golf game with the set of woods you gave him.  Maybe your friend is making everyone cakes with all that cake decorating kit that you purchased years back but never used.  Maybe she’s supplementing her income and is able to visit her grandchildren during the holidays with the money she makes.  Maybe as a thank you, she makes your cakes at cost whenever you need them for an event, saving you time, hassle and making you look like a star to your family, because let’s face it, her cakes are gorgeous!

As we continue to play pretend, let’s look at our calendar and figure out what we’re going to do with all our imaginary time on our hands now that we’re not constantly trying to find things or find a place for things.  We’re also worrying less, so let’s pretend we’re enjoying life more because of that.

Here’s something fun to pretend, let’s pretend we made some money off of the items we sold!  Maybe we made enough to take a trip or treat ourselves to a spa day or a membership at that gym we’ve always wanted to join.

Whatever you decide to treat yourself to, it will be because of your hard work of decluttering your home and, in essence, decluttering your life allowing you the freedom and means to go out and have a little fun.


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