Yes, we all have stuff. Plenty of it. The good, the bad, and some ugly stuff. And I’m not even talking about the emotional stuff we carry around. Most of us have closets, drawers, garages, attics, and filing cabinets full of our stuff. Some of us have more stuff than others and some have even let it take over their life as it morphs into a “hoarding” problem of reality-TV show proportion.
Some of this stuff we’re sure we will need again someday. Some of it we know we won’t (we might look at it once every few decades), but we just can’t let go of it without feeling different variations of guilt, grief, anxiety and/or emptiness. This stuff, which we transport around for years, holds the memories of relationships, our travels, our weird collectible hobbies–even our very existence. It becomes an extension of ourselves or a signal to others about who we want to be or where we want to belong. But yet, deep down we know that there is a price to pay for holding on to all our stuff (and I don’t mean the moving guys we pay to lug it around).
Where does this holding onto “stuff” come from? Where most things start–in our childhood. Statistics shows that approximately 70% of all children make an early attachment to either a favorite blanket, a stuffed animal or a toy. These items often provide a sense of security to children, while for an adult it attempts to restore a sense of self. We surround ourselves with things that attempt to give us comfort or fill a void.
Normally, I try to clean out my closets every six months to keep from accumulating too much stuff. It can sneak up on you and before you know it, you have no more room for more important stuff. I always have an incredible feeling of lightness after purging and giving away my stuff. I feel a sense of accomplishment and an incredible sense of freedom. I like going through life with less things to protect, maintain, store, and generally have to look after. How many times have you bought something only to find out later you already had one buried away in some drawer and/or closet which you forgot about? Too much stuff makes us wasteful. One has only to look in one’s refrigerator to verify that. I bet you have plenty of sealed packets of mayo, ketchup, mustard or salad dressing you never use. But you keep it, just in case.
So what can one do to avoid collecting unnecessary stuff? Well, if you have ever moved and had to put your stuff in storage for any length of time, you quickly realize that you have a lot of stuff you never missed or needed. Lessening your stuff is like a soul growth experiment in letting go of attachments to things. If nothing else, think of the disposal agony you will be placing on your family members, who will have to go through all your stuff (not to miss something important), in the event you should suddenly die. My siblings and myself had to liquidate two homes when my parents died. My mother kept every birthday card, report card, letter we’d ever written, as well as hair samples, graduation tassels, drawings, and some other equally embarrassing stuff. The basement and cellar were full of this stuff. I whittled it down to one small box of mementos that I couldn’t bear to toss.
While writing this article, it got me to thinking about those journals I’ve kept for years in the back of my closet, along with some old love letters. Geez, why do we keep such stuff?! Is it some memorial to our lives that verify we actually existed and were loved? All I know is that I would not want anyone reading some of those former-self thoughts. So today I took out some of that stuff and started shredding it. In fact, I shredded it all. And you know what– I feel 100% better already.
So no more stuffing things away. Try lightening your load in life. Start with a drawer one day, a closet the next, and before you know it you, too, will have gotten rid of a lot of stuff and also feel great!
Comedian George Carlin addresses “Stuff” (5:09 mins.)
Dr. Kathy Forti is a clinical psychologist, inventor of the Trinfinity8 technology, and author of the book, Fractals of God. amazon.com/author/kathyforti