The Emotional Impact of Simplifying: Hitting the Wall

The Emotional Impact of Simplifying - image by

Moving Motivation

Philosophy Matters recently made a big move – shifting its home base from Mississippi to Raleigh, NC! This move has been a large part of the motivation to continue simplifying things – as part of the process is moving from two separate houses totaling somewhere just under 4,000 sq. feet, to an apartment of about 1,200 sq. feet.

Before leaving Mississippi, LKAwesome and I made one more huge push to get rid of stuff via a garage sale and by donating to a local orphanage – which was necessary in order to fit everything into the 26 foot moving truck we had rented! It was clear during this process that I was getting burned out on simplifying. I had already gotten rid of everything that wasn’t meaningful to me in some way or another, and so the things that were left held the most value. It was becoming increasingly difficult to get rid of anything.

One of the things that helped a lot was that my parents wanted a few of these items – so that made it easier to part with knowing it would still be in the family.

The other thing I was counting on was that once we were actually in this 1200 sq. feet of space, we would see how much stuff we still had and that this would rejuvenate my motivation to continue simplifying. This worked a little bit:

Emotional Attachment

You may have noticed in the video that we still have a lot of stuff, although to be fair, a lot of it really is books and alcohol. I’ve written about books before, and still plan to talk about the alcohol. But needless to say, seeing this stuff piled up in the new apartment did serve as more motivation to continue simplifying. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t that simple anymore.

I started hitting a new emotional wall.

The climax came from considering something I never thought would even be an issue: a mini-fridge used to stock beer. It simply does not fit very well in the new apartment, and the prospect of needing to get rid of it became very real. For a reason I couldn’t identify at the time, this really upset me, to the point that I was almost in tears and felt like I was actually grieving over this mini-fridge. At the same time, part of me can’t help but think how ridiculous this all is and wonder why I care so much about a thing. And so I spent some time just sitting and reflecting and thinking about this emotional wall that I’d hit.

I realized that these things have been with me and been more constant than many of the people in my life. They’ve survived a divorce, two additional relationships, and a couple of moves. No matter what else was changing in my life, these things were a comforting constant.

That realization started the process of dealing with this crazy emotional wall. It helped to feel like there was a reason that this stuff was emotionally important to me.

Moving Beyond

Now I’m facing the task of moving beyond this emotional attachment to things, and although I’m not all of the way there yet, I’ve found a few thoughts that are helping me in the process:

  1. There are many things in my life that are more constant than any of these things: my family, first and foremost, as well as many of the friends that I’ve had since way back in middle school and still keep in touch with today. These are the true comforting constants in my life.
  2. These things aren’t what bring me joy. I’ve spent plenty of time alone in a giant house with these things, and those are not the moments I look back fondly on when I reflect on my life and the times I’ve been happiness. Whatever comfort their familiarity may give me, this is nothing like the happiness that’s part of the good life.
  3. Almost everything I’ve gotten rid of has been mass manufactured, which means that if I did end up truly missing it, I could more than likely very easily acquire it again.

With these thoughts in mind, I’m working to continue getting rid of even more stuff!

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