There are plenty of excuses for hanging on to stuff. I talked about a few of them them recently and shared my logical explanations of why they are silly.
But. If you are like me, logic doesn’t always work. You can reason with yourself till you’re blue in the face and not manage to get rid of a single object.
What on earth do you do then?
You turn to emotions. You think about energy and the space in which you live your life. Sound a little new-age-y for you? Hear me out.
The stuff in our physical environment affects us in lots of ways. It can impact our energy levels, mental states, moods. You can’t interact with an object on a daily basis and not have it make an impression.
Try It Yourself: An Experiment
Here’s where the DIY comes in. Go find an object in your physical environment. Anything will do, but the experiment will be more productive if you choose something you’re struggling to let go of.
Got one? Good. Now take a moment and look at it.
How does it make you feel? Do you feel uplifted, happy, or proud? Sad, guilty, or regretful? See, an object has memories and intentions attached to it. It serves as a reminder of people, places, events, and plans. It’s not just a thing. It has emotional significance.
Here, for instance, are some objects from my life and what they’re telling me every day.
The Italian Language Pack of Guilt
Looks innocent enough, right? I bought this set almost five years ago, back when I thought it would be fun to learn Italian. I now have other priorities and learning Italian is not one of them. Yet I have moved this set with me to no fewer than four different apartments.
When I look at this set, I feel guilty. I spent money on this thing, so I feel like I should use it — but I don’t want to. And what’s more, I don’t see myself ever wanting to. I feel bad for owning it, for having bought it in the first place, and for not having followed through on my intention to learn Italian. That’s some serious negative energy generated every time I see this simple object.
The Jeans of Doubt
Ah, clothing. So integral to how we feel about ourselves, isn’t it? A few years back I lost a bit of weight. Not a ton, but enough to need new clothes. I feel great, and have felt great for the past couple of years. I’ve maintained my healthier lifestyle and the lower weight that came with it.
So then why do I still have my previous wardrobe? I’m not talking about a favorite piece or two — those jeans above are just a sample. I’m talking about the whole thing.
How do all these too-big clothes make me feel? Doubtful. By keeping them around, I’m basically telling myself I don’t think I can keep up the changes I’ve made. I expect myself to fail. I’m keeping this fallback wardrobe around for when the inevitable occurs. I’m reminded of these feelings every time I open my closet. Talk about a serious downer.
The Remade Mug of Joy
Now let’s shift gears and look at something positive. I once worked a booth at a medieval festival for an old job. Our spot was right next to a tinsmith, and throughout the day I enjoyed several conversations with him. His wares were lovely, and I decided to buy something both to support a local artist and to have a reminder of our pleasant interaction. It took several perusals of his table before I found the perfect object: the mug pictured above.
What I love so much about this mug is that it is broken. Its handle fell off, and the pottery company that made it was planning to throw it away. Instead, the tinsmith fashioned a new handle for it and restored its usefulness.
This mug sits on my dresser, holding odds and ends. I see it every morning when I wake up and as I get ready for bed at night. It reminds me of that festival, of course. But it does more than that. It embodies my motto. This mug is a perfect physical example of something that has been remade by hand. Out of this beautiful but broken object came something unique, lovely, and useful. I feel so much joy each time my eyes rest on this imperfect piece of pottery.
Look around your home. What objects lift your spirits, energize you, make your heart soar? Which ones drag you down, fill you with guilt, cause you to doubt yourself? One of those groups you should keep. The other you should let go.
Can you imagine what life would be like if every object in your physical environment fed you positive energy every time you interacted with it?
Tell me: What objects in your life pull you down? Which ones lift you up?