When I first started sorting through and giving away things, I felt an incredible sense of lightness.
Recently however, as I have progressed on my journey, I have noticed much more emotional turmoil within myself. Ups and downs, and questioning of everything has become commonplace. And I’ve noticed that I seem to be “on the lookout” for something.
I feel as though I should be taking up a new hobby or looking for a job, or starting a project. I feel a sense of emptiness in daily life and an urgency to fill it.
I think this is a direct result of all the things I have let go. There is a sense of discomfort in the growing space that my clutter has left behind.
There are three main themes to my discomfort:
For the first time in years I am not feeling overwhelmed anymore. I thought this would be wonderful, but it is so unfamiliar it feels like I need to ‘fix’ it. I found myself browsing for a photography course the other day, and then thinking about subscribing to a writers magazine. I have crashed through the midway point of this life change and I am now looking at a whole new way of living. I’m stripping things back to the basics and I’m feeling a bit lost.
I have to be careful at this point not to fill my life and space with new STUFF. I need to be sure that anything I take up or bring in is genuine and not a replacement for things that I have said goodbye to.
I have also felt much more aware of how much emotional baggage I am carrying around (a lot!). Now that my home environment is so much clearer, I find that my own mind is the cluttered place. Old hurts, personality flaws, weaknesses, behaviour patterns, they are all suddenly in the limelight and it’s making me feel like I need something to fix them (which previously would have been stuff).
And finally, I am questioning many friendships and also my relationships with family members. I really notice how draining and emotionally upsetting some people and groups of people can be for me.
This whole experience has led me to a totally unexpected transition. I never thought clearing out all my stuff could do anything other than make me happy, but these feelings I am experiencing are leaving me irritable and a little bit miserable.
However, I don’t think any of them are bad. I believe that as part of the journey to a minimalistic and simpler life there will be rough patches when I have to face up to old habits (filling my life with too many hobbies) and to old emotions that have never been dealt with.
A lot of these feelings have been buried under my life of stuff for so long that I had forgotten they were there.
I feel emotionally younger because I am now more aware of things that have never been resolved, I am feeling emotions I had buried from years ago, all over again.
So how am i going to transition through this period? How can I deal with these feelings of dissatisfaction and unease?
Well, to some extent I will need to fill the emptiness that my stuff leaves behind, and I will need to relearn how to fill my time.
Shopping, organising, sorting, or even just analysis-paralysis and sitting in the middle of a mess eating, drinking and watching tv. These are no longer the things I need (or want) to do.
I think I need to focus more on experiences and relationships, not stuff. Without my stuff to anchor me to the house with the guilt of a list of things that I should be doing, I am free to get out, (or stay home!), but to do things more socially.
I need to find nourishing activities to fill the gap so that I don’t just go out and buy different things thinking I’m doing something new. Maybe there is a whole list of activities I can’t even think of yet because I am still stuck in the mindset of someone who has filled their house with objects.
As for my emotional wellbeing, this obviously needs work. A minimalist mental state is something I envisage as being calm, curious, content and ready for thought. Maybe meditation is the way forward, or some serious soul searching and essay writing on the issues I feel I have (a lot of which I think is to do with my parents).
I would like to completely finish paring down things in the house before even starting on my brain, but I feel the weight of emotional issues much more now. I suppose with less stuff to hide behind and to distract me, I am more aware of everything I do and everything I feel.
Under all that stuff I’ve chucked out I’ve found a pale, neglected and wobbly version of myself.
Less stuff means more of ME in my life and it seems I am going to take a little getting used to.