Once upon a time, I was a single mother. I worked in human services (not the biggest ticket salary out there) and received almost none of the child support that had been ordered by the court. (Yes, I could have taken all sort of steps to collect but, at the time, he wasn’t around and that made life much safer and more peaceful.)
I got really good at worrying about money. I developed a highly trained scarcity mentality. PhD-level. Despite changed circumstances, sometimes it’s still hard to get rid of “stuff” without thinking “maybe someone will need this someday.” Those thoughts were particularly loud and obnoxious when got married and merged two complete households. They cropped up again when we sold our home and prepared to move to the other end of the country.
At the risk of sounding like a hoarder, I’ve learned to turn down the volume of those thoughts. The simplest, least stressful strategy I’ve found is a multi-step process. First, I put “stuff” into a big storage box. Then I close it up and notice whether or not I go looking for any of its contents. Most of the time the answer is “no” and I am grateful to drop it off at the thrift store that supports our local domestic violence shelter.
Not long ago, I was on the phone with a friend, talking a little about this process. He’s much better at it than I am and had an observation about why it can be so difficult for people to start the process of off-loading excess.
“Our lizard brain hates loss.”
[Tweet “Our lizard brain hates loss.“]
Duh. I know this. Hanging on to excess stuff is about survival… about having “enough” to live. And it doesn’t matter that the “need” is only a perception. An important part of clearing clutter is to make sure we’re not seeing it as a loss.
[Tweet “It doesn’t matter that the need is only a perception.”]
Living better with less is a mindset… and sometimes we need to remind that little lizard between our ears that our survival is not at stake. Take small steps. There is no end. Gratitude for the abundance in our lives. There’s no hurry… It’s a way of life
I’m still working on completing the office “before and after” pictured in the blog post… but I did manage to publish The Inner Critic Advantage: Making Peace With the Noise in You Head. You can get a copy here.