I noticed that few people dare to express their negative experiences with their own decluttering process. I was on the fence about sharing mine, because I would prefer to keep a positive vibe on my blog. But I also know that it’s important to keep it real and reach out to those few people who are also dealing with these negative issues as well. Here is the dark side of minimalism, the negative side-effect that I believe no one talks openly about:
When you come across minimalism on the internet, it instantly looks great and appealing. People seem stylish, happy and zen, so you try it as well. But here is a thing that isn’t joyful about the decluttering and the minimalistic journey. It’s a moment within the journey when bad thoughts occur and you might be faced with deep personal issues that seem impossible to solve at that moment.
A while back, I encountered an emotional dissatisfaction. A sadness that was underlying the garbage, the mess, the clutter. It suddenly became clear to me: the more trash I cleared from my life, the more I faced the emptiness of my existence. You don’t declutter to gain nothing in return. Minimalism isn’t about giving up stuff and remaining with less. It’s about finding more meaning, more satisfaction, more quality in life.
I started noticing how little interests remained underneath the chaos. I didn’t know what to do with myself or my life. I was buried beneath my past, underneath a pile of deception, of unfinished projects and the mess was a result of that pain.
I know that decluttering is the first step towards the life you want for yourself, that this is the way to build a life of your dreams. But right there and then I realized that there wasn’t much I truly loved doing or having or being. I lost direction: somehow the less I needed, the less satisfied I became. I couldn’t tell what would bring me joy. All the things that used to make me happy at some point in my life and were useful then: all those things didn’t apply these days anymore. I knew I badly needed change but I couldn’t tell what kind of change. So I took a break, stayed away from the mess and the decluttering in order to figure out what was going on. I binge-watched series, I was extremely passive, got back into a nightly-routine of sleeping during the day, lacked energy, hated myself for a while but dealt with these emotions. The unhappiness had nothing to do with the (external) stuff itself. I realized I needed to focus upon my self: self-worth, self-perception and so on. It isn’t something I have actively chosen to neglect over the years; it came to be, due to situations and environment I was in and the people in my life.
I realized at that moment ‘I am actually unhappy with how I look’ and even-though I wasn’t making a big deal out of it throughout the past years: it’s now become something I can’t neglect any longer. It used to be a coping mechanism, but today it is not working anymore. I chose for myself right there: no more suffering. It’s time to do something constructive with this pain and dedicate this time for myself to heal. Here is where the self-love starts. I put myself first for healthy reasons and I am clear about my intentions. I learn to distinct between what is important for me now, instead of what people expect from me at that moment: which is most likely very unhealthy for me to do.
Those important missing pieces in myself were the root of much unheard sadness in my life. The self-neglect grew from childhood until now: it was about time. So, I chose to acknowledge this pain and face myself with the truth. I learn to accept the truth. Then I truly try to figure out how it came to be (by meditation) and why it is still here. And then it is time to let it go, bit by bit. The shell must break open. And that is by self-healing and finding therapeutic ways t overcome this misery. This is how I gained a bit more of self-confidence.
Thank you for reading
image by Hilde Mork
Everything gets uncomfortable when it’s time to change. That’s a part of the growth process. Things will get better. Be patient.
Struggle is the indicator of change, you must try to understand what the universe or your inner voice is telling you, listen to the needs of your higher conciousness and change along. A friend of mine was having a difficult time and I could relate very much, as I’ve just been through one of those as well.
Every once in a while things will get tough and hard in your personal journey, which is very normal if you ask me. The struggle ends when you learn to accept this as a way of life. If you let it be and carefully pay attention to what’s been told/shown, you can grow stronger instead of letting yourself succumb under that pressure and torture. As a human being, we have a duty to become the best version of our true selves.
Trust that the universe knows what to put you trough to get you closer to what’s meant for you.
You simply can’t unknow stuff, you can’t unsee things: and therefore you can’t ignore what your consciousness is telling you. If you do ignore it though, it will become so unpleasantly hard for you to keep doing whatever you wanted to keep doing mindlessly and undisturbed. Truth is, we didn’t come into existence to live egocentric lives. We didn’t come to have what we have, we didn’t learn all those lessons to make ourselves less, we weren’t blesses with all those things that we take for granted just so we could watch tv all day, scroll on facebook or drink our lives away. We came into existence to make our time valuable, to value ourselves and others.
So I gave my friend some advice that for me was crucial to understand in order to survive/outlive the hard times. I oddly found it very inspirational as I was writing it down and because of that, I wanted to share these words with you all;
<my original message in Dutch> “Het worstelen is het begin van een nodige verandering. Ken uw kracht, weet dat dit nu groeipijnen zijn. Uw hoofd, hart, lichaam heeft weer aanpassing nodig: een nieuwe manier van zijn. Doorsta deze harde tijd, jouw moeite zal zoals altijd weer beloond worden. Ik heb ook onlangs weer enkele veranderingen moeten doorstaan en ben weer sterker als individu. Ik weet dat jij ook straks zult groeien. Nu even doorbijten.
<and my English translation> “Struggling is the beginning of a necessary change. Recognize your strength. Understand that these are growing pains. Your head, mind and body need a new adjustment, a new way of being. Endure these hard times, your effort will -as always- be rewarded. I also recently had to weather a few changes myself -you are not alone in this- now I am stronger as an individual, therefore I know that you too will grow stronger. You can do it. Sustain for a while, it get will inevitably get better.”
Take care, with love.
If your life just got a little harder, that might mean you just reached the next level.
images by frédéricforest
that you are
carrying, you were
only supposed to
words from Najwa Zebian
One of the reasons that minimalism appeals to me is the profound meaning of living life itself. I believe strongly in the following quote by Joshua Becker:
We were never meant to live life accumulating stuff. We were meant to live simply enjoying the experiences of life, the people of life, and the journey of life – not the things of life.
To my understanding this represents the true meaning of a life-time and what the result is about. I believe people choose minimalism nowadays because they want to feel freed and they want to experience their happiness now, by stop wasting time and effort on what isn’t important and learn to focus upon what truly matters here and now. Many minimalists have their awakening once they encounter the death of a close someone, realizing all the stuff that this person held on to and experiencing how much of a hassle all this is for the ones you leave behind, to deal with. Not only does it awaken your consciousness of the future and the life of those who will outlive you, you’re also left with the responsibility to make your life meaningful to yourself and others without the overkill of owning a unhealthy amount of stuff.
Something personal here: I am considering never conceiving my own children and I will write about this topic more in depth eventually hopefully later. But for now, this is a simple fact: I will not find purpose in my life in procreating another life. I find it ethically and morally right to limit myself to my own existence and share my life with those who are already here on earth to find meaning together in this world. I realize that my choice leaves me with the knowledge that everything I own won’t be a heritage to an offspring but it might be taken into use by those who can benefit from my stuff and those who have some sentimental value to my existence (my partner for example, some friends or even my parents if they live long enough). I am well aware that the meaning of your life is limited to what you make out of it, what you pursue, what you give to others and what you radiate (love, inspiration and so on). Nobody will remember you for your stuff, they will remember you despite of your stuff. There is a story going on in my family about an aunt that when she died, everyone was so baffled by how much junk she accumulated and they made fun of her at that moment while cleaning out the house, but even worse: it’s the only way people remember her today. It’s like she never made an impression worth remembering, I imagine she must have been an introvert to the extreme and not even a kind person because instead of sympathy and compassion, people felt the need to mock her illness of hoarding. It somehow always touched me to hear this story of someone I haven’t known personally in my life.
With minimalism I feel like you’re actually aware of mortality and become at peace with the thought even more. Not only because you’re less worried about ‘where your stuff will end after you die’, but also because you become aware of how to live your life during your lifetime, making the most of it, choosing to live happily and healthy instead of wasting your most valuable asset in life: your time.
Try to see the meaningful through the meaningless. Find good in the bad and hold on to what works, to what makes you happy to what keeps you going. Remember the positive in your lifetime and overcome the bad times. Your life is worthy and you should treat it that way, without becoming arrogant. Contribute in any way possible, anything to make you feel valuable without disabling others or let others wreck you. Don’t let people take advantage of your kindness and generosity. Find the balance between giving and not expecting to receive anything without being robbed. Here is a great poem -I shared a while back- that wraps up this topic for now.
I admit the whole de-cluttering journey isn’t as easy as I thought it would be. For me it takes a lot of practice to make the slightest progress, whether it’s mentally, physically or emotionally. At the start I wasn’t aware it would entail much trials and errors. Somehow I planned to declutter all my stuff in six months time. That stuff that took more than 20 years to accumulate, I somehow believed that 6 to 12 months would be enough to go through all of that. The reality is: I don’t always have the time nor the energy to dedicate myself fully on this project. Life happens while you make changes for yourself and you have to make room and time to dedicate yourself on your personal goals.
Decluttering is something that happens gradually for me. I was mislead by some minimalism talks and videos I saw before I started my own journey, I saw how others made it look effortlessly, some of them even took a full week or maximum two weeks and that was enough time for them to change their entire life. But that clearly isn’t the case for me here. Of-course I realize now that I was being unrealistic with my ‘goals’ as I should have known that I come from a further place with much more (unresolved) stuff. As a former hoarder my de-cluttering process is taking much longer than expected. I believe that going through this hard effort now, will always remind me to never go back to that crowded lifestyle. Looking at how things came to this point makes me sad that I let it come this far without knowing/realizing, but on the other hand I am really grateful that I am finally doing something about it now. I am finally taking matters into my own hands and taking full responsibility of my own life, without fear. It takes effort, courage and hard work to go trough this mess.
Decluttering thoroughly entails lots of self-realizations, moments of taking a break from it, confronting your issues, experiencing some self-therapy after a big clean-out, and so on and so on. It’s a personal journey into understanding yourself; how you got here, what made this happen and why it’s hard to get rid of it. They say memorabilia and sentimental objects are the hardest to let go, but that has not been the case for me. In my opinion everything can hold some emotional value, especially if you’ve neglected a part of yourself for too long in that case you emotions will irrevocably be triggered in everything you come across and therefore you will learn about you inner struggles. Because when you decide to declutter your life, you have chose for yourself that it’s time to finally confront your personal demons in order to move forward. De-cluttering is a spiritual journey, the journey of undressing your true self.
It’s about taking time to evaluate your life thus far, see what brought you until here and where you want to go from now on. Deciding your own destination, picking your tools, making room for what’s important to you. Letting yourself breathe out the shit that has been holding you from your personal growth. Breathe out the mental struggles, breath out the emotional clog and say goodbye to what has been disturbing your true peace or happiness.
image by Willem Douven