How To Break Up With Your Stuff
It was quite a while ago now that we discussed the Live Simply approach to the break ups of emotional relationships, which holds that, although there is usually appropriate sadness involved, these things are not truly travesties.
There are relationships that are meant to sustain over time, and there are those meant to meet their end. A break up bears no affect on the significance or legitimacy of the relationship, nor on what that relationship’s purpose was for you in the long run.
While people tend to agree with the notion that often times two people are meant to go their separate ways, each having learned invaluable lessons from the other, they have a very difficult time translating this line of thought to material belongings.
Maybe it’s because a sweater can’t yell at you. Maybe it’s because that serving platter is defenseless. Whatever the reason, people seem stuck in the thinking that things are meant to stay with you forever. If you nix them later on, you are bad. If you decide you don’t need or want them, you are bad. Or wasteful! Or ungrateful!
There is rarely a shift, even later on down the road, to a perspective on stuff that’s empowering. People stay mired in the trap of punishment, guilt, and obligation. They see and remember money they wasted, gifts they squandered, choices they didn’t live up to.
What if, instead of looking at things in such a negative, demeaning, defeated manner, you started to think of them like you would ended relationships? Whatever the item, it has held a purpose for you, fulfilled in the form of valuable lessons, if you’re open to receiving them.
Of course, we prefer parting with an item when it is threadbare and worn out because it’s proof of our having stood by our past choices and used a thing constantly.
But there is no less satisfaction or learning to be gleaned when parting with items that rarely got used, have been sitting around forever, and so on.
That sweater? The one you spent your hard earned dollars on that you wore maybe once and then never again because it itched the shit out of you? It came into your life to teach you to never again buy itchy sweaters because they just aren’t worth it. Say goodbye and consider yourself a more savvy shopper for having acquired that dud. Purpose served, happy day!
That china set? The one you picked out specially for all the dinner parties you never have? Its very clear purpose is to affirm who you are (informal, tending towards the easiest clean-up methods possible) and who you are not (fancy, a happy hostess). Thank that china set for helping you see in no uncertain terms the kind of person you are and want to be in your sacred space and then move it along, and by it I mean “your life” and by along I mean “sans China” (yes, shock horror, keep breathing). Fulfilling of purpose, beyond, beyond!
That dress served its purpose by teaching you that you’re far better off utilizing a service like Rent the Runway, and that dead goldfish floating in the bowl served its purpose by illuminating you to the fact that caring for other living things isn’t necessarily your strong suit.
Those twenty lip glosses have served their purpose by telling you that you can’t be trusted to exercise restraint in a Sephora, and that rolled up art print that’s been sitting in the back of your closet for the last 4 years has served its purpose by informing you of the fact that if you’re going to buy art, you better buy it framed, or it’s going to live in the back of your closet for the next 4 years.
That pair of shoes that you lusted after, saved for, and dreamt of one day being able to buy? They served their purpose by giving you the thrill of eventually buying them and proving to yourself you are capable of obtaining what you desire.
Look again: where at first you might have seen unfulfilled opportunities and failed experiments, waste and regret and guilt and shame, now see items amicably reaching their end point with you after having served their purpose, all teaching you how to make better decisions in the future.
Say goodbye, wish them well, and carry on.
Image credits: Anthropologie catalogue, April 2013, Antiquaria Vintage, Refinery 29
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