The journey of self-improvement is different for us all. For me, one of the first real steps involved getting rid of clutter that I had accumulated through my life.
When I was growing up my family wasn’t particularly wealthy. In fact coming from a single parent family we were probably close to the opposite. I recall a number of times in my teenage years where I just didn’t understand why we couldn’t have the latest gadget or rock out in brand name clothes. I recall not really feeling poor. In retrospect though, I guess a single parent family living in government housing probably does qualify as such.
Although our family had a lot of love, we weren’t often in the position to be able to head out and purchase something new unless we really needed it. We also tended to hold onto things for as long as we could and try to squeeze as much life out of them as possible. The words “Hold onto it, you never know when you might need it again” almost became an informal motto in our family. They were spoken any time we were considering what to do with something that we had finished with. They were also spoken any time that we cleaned up clutter.
This approach was one that I carried with me for most of my life. Even though I am now in a more financially secure position, much of this mentality still remains. When my wife and I first moved in together it was a never ending source of amusement (or frustration?) for her. In fact the title of ‘hoarder’ is one that I have only recently shaken.
I found my old family mantra being countered almost every time. It has since been replaced with what has now become one of the family mottos of our new, more streamlined family unit – “When was the last time you actually used it?”
I think that many of us are in a position where for whatever reason we are hesitant to release the things of our past. Be it due to personal history, nostalgic attachment or a general fear of change, we just don’t let things go. This is the case regardless of whether they will actually be of any benefit to us in the future.
When I find myself in this position now I stop and think about what is causing this reluctance to getting rid of clutter and moving forward.
One perspective that I find always works for me is to start by assessing the last time that I actually used something. I then evaluate whether it it truly likely that I will use the thing again and then assess the difficulty and potential cost of replacing it if I do ever need it.
It also helps to keep in mind that despite where we are in our lives we will always have history, but the things from our past don’t need to limit the things in our future.
Photo by ssherma1