As Latinos sometimes we don’t realize how much emotional “stuff” is attached to the things we buy and keep in our homes. When our families come to this country with nothing in search of a better life getting rid of things we worked so hard for can feel like a slap in the face to everything we and/or our parents sacrificed. And even though I understand what it’s like not to have, I realized that I have been living with a scarcity mentality and that it was holding me back.
After months of dealing with my postpartum depression I came out feeling like I needed to make room not only spiritually but physically-- my therapist thought it was time to get rid of “the stuff” that I was holding onto-- but little did I know how difficult it would actually be to let things go. It made me realize that “letting go” of physical things can be a way to let go of emotional attachments and traumas as well. When we talk about “making room” it’s not just about having space where a chair once was or a box once sat. Making room means removing attachments so that emotionally you’re able to grow and embrace simplicity in all areas of your life.
As long as I can remember I’ve always had a lot of stuff. For years and years it seems I’ve been taking the same old things (that I don’t really use or need) from place to place. It was stuff I thought I needed, like pants I hoped to fit into again, nick nacks passed down from my mom, baby clothes, and nearly anything you can think of. I had convinced myself that they were things that I simply could not part with because of the emotional value. It got to the point where I felt guilt for even thinking about letting them go. I knew it was going to be tough but I was totally committed. And there are a few things I did in order to make the process easier:
Giving things to people I know:
The thought of my special things going to strangers or possibly going in the trash made it really hard to choose what to keep and what had to go. But giving them to people I care for actually brought relief since it’s like my things were going to have a new life and live on with someone else.
Be realistic about what you need v. what you want:
Is your stuff really stuff you need? This is a question that brings up a lot of different feelings because we so often confuse what we want with what we need. Cleaning unintentionally forces us to face our wants versus our needs and the habits we’ve formed that contribute to the mental, emotional, and literal clutter in our lives. Make sure you’re actually keeping things that will enhance your life not just take up space.
Have someone keep you on task:
When you’re going through your own stuff it will feel like you need it all. It’s a smart idea to have someone impartial to make sure you’re being real about what you want to keep. My husband was a huge help when it came to being realistic about why I wanted to keep certain things. He was also the one who threw things out when I felt like I couldn’t. With certain items it felt like a huge relief not to be the one to make that decision.
Going through your things a few times a year is a great way to avoid getting into my position. It’s a lot easier to get rid of things little by little than it is to do it all at once. From now on I’m going to make sure to go through and get rid of things more often-- but another silver lining is that it has made me more aware of what I buy in the first place.
It’s ok to keep some things:
Because there ARE attachments that are completely healthy make sure you don’t throw away something you love just for the sake of decluttering. I have a box full of letters and photos from my best friends when I first moved to the US that I’ll never let go and there is nothing wrong with it.
Decluttering going into this new year has made me feel lighter, liberated and open to new things. Let us know in the comments what you’ve learned from decluttering your life or if you have any tips we can try!