It took me two years to empty my home with 20 years of accumulation. It wasn’t easy or quick, but I am happy I did it. I speak from experiences when I say once you work through the emotions associated with parting with your stuff, you won’t miss it … very much.
If you miss it, it is because you are still dealing with the associated emotions or it is something you need to replace. In the “replacement” category will be things like a meat thermometer, an ironing board, or extra coat hangers.
In the “emotions” category will be your personal feelings toward the following.
- Family photos
- Antiques and favored furniture
- Symbols of other life stages
- National Geographic magazines
- Family heirlooms
- Souvenirs and mementos
- Stuff you’d planned to use in the future
I can verify that most of these were problem areas for me. As ridiculous as it seems, I struggled to toss a t-shirt given to me by my high school boyfriend 40 years ago. The shirt was a rag. Literally, a rag stored under the sink, yet I hesitated to get rid of this symbol of the girl I once was.
Here are some suggestions from the lessons I’ve learned.
Begin with the end in mind
Think about where you are going and what life is like in that country. Will your antiques thrive in a tropical environment? Will you really use that family heirloom turkey platter? What is the lifestyle you hope to gain from your move overseas? How will each item contribute to that lifestyle?
Prepare to Feel Worse Before You Feel Better
If your goal is to lead a different life, a simpler life, a more relaxed life, you may feel regret or shame about the money you wasted on useless stuff, or the time you wasted living a lifestyle you no longer value. Let it go.
When the feelings of shame surface, take a moment to say, “I forgive myself” and then keep going. Remind yourself that whatever happened in your past, you are getting it together now.
If the emotions become overwhelming, turn the project over to a neutral party, an organizer, an auctioneer, your spouse.
Give or throw things away
Maybe you will make money on eBay or Craig’s List, but it will take time and be hard work. The sad truth is nobody wants your stuff. So, plan to list the big stuff but for the petty stuff, stay focused on the goal. Give or throw it away.
Break It Down
I found the best way to deal with the emotions of downsizing was to move things out in stages.
Going room by room, I moved things into plastic garbage bags and piled the bags in the garage; out of sight and out of mind. A week or two later, tired of stepping over my stuff, as I loaded the bags into the car, I gave myself permission to take a second look.
Usually, I lost interest at first glance inside the bag. After that, it was easy to toss the bag into the trunk and head out to the dump or the Goodwill. Once I arrived at the disposal site, I never looked back.
I am not at all sorry to be free of my stuff. I still have some things I love: lamps, art, my pressure cooker, but the things I have I appreciate and I use. And the things I tossed or gave away, I don’t miss them. And neither will you.
Have you read Part-1 of Got Stuff?
Having a hard time getting rid of “stuff” for the big move? You’re not alone. Let us know about your dilemmas.
by: Dana Dwyer