Think of a person who associates the acquisition of jewelry with pleasure. She loves it all – rings, necklaces, and bracelets. She has a large jewelry collection, but she never seems to wear much of it. Many of it is crammed into the back of her closet drawers or stuffed into cloth/silk baggies and lost in the bottom of her closet, where they’ll probably never see the light of day again. The collection is far too big to be stored in her normal jewelry box, even though it’s a large humongous-style jewelry box. The only time she is ever content with her jewelry collection is shortly before and after a new purchase. Buying jewelry gives her a short-lived thrill, and then the desire to acquire more returns, ruthlessly propelling her toward the next purchase.
Does this Sound familiar? Even if jewelry is not your weakness, can you relate to the thrill of acquisition? Perhaps your passion is clothing, books, DVD’s. Or what about the latest electronic gadgets?
A long time back…I was kind of the above mentioned latest gadget addict. Oh, I didn’t have many expensive pieces, as I didn’t really have the funds for that. But I was still happy with more, more, more of whatever I could afford.
What drives that need for acquisition?
“Newer, Shinier, Bigger, better and more, more, more!” is the prominent message of today’s advertisements. The job of advertising is to convince you that your happiness is tied to whatever he or she is promoting. Sadly, our materialistic society is about getting more and more stuff with no end in sight.
And when does this acquisition cycle end? When will you have ‘enough?’
Most people never ask themselves this question, and so they keep buying more and more. Purchasing becomes a never ending cycle. There might be a temporary satisfaction by your latest purchases (retail therapy!-as glorified by the media), but soon that burning desire to buy something new resurfaces again. Your living spaces become overloaded with more clothing and jewelry and shoes…many of which you have stopped wearing because they don’t fit any longer or they’re out of style. Perhaps you can’t even find many of your things because they’re shoved into the bottom of your closet (exactly where mine used to be)!
Less is more…More is Less. Who decides and when?
We’ve all known children who are overloaded with toys. They own toy boxes filled to the brim with the latest and greatest toys (the product of doting grandparents, perhaps?) but often claim that they can’t find anything to play with. It’s no wonder! The poor kids are totally overwhelmed with MORE with excess! We might judge them as spoiled or ungrateful, but how is that situation any different than you and I looking into our overloaded closets and complaining that we have nothing to wear?
Of course we all need a certain amount of essentials, clothing being a prime example. And what about luxury items like jewelry or gadgets? Those items can be fun, right? Of course they can! But how much will we ever really wear or use? Most people don’t even consider setting limits on this kind of purchase, but for our peace of mind and for our budget’s sake, we might wish to think about doing so.
How do I stay within my Limits?
My current gadget collection (which is far smaller than my previous ginormous collection) is still full, but I now refuse to let it overflow. How do I stay within my limits?
- One in-One Out: Now, If and When I ever buy a new gadget, an old gadget has has to go and I usually only validate the purchase in my mind when an old gadget has broken down(that’s the better reason for my purchase). That one in-one out rule has become my simplification and decluttering anthem, and I highly recommend it for most personal items.
- 6 months use policy: Another way is, the 6 month use policy. If it hasn’t been used for 6 months-means you will never really use it again. Give it out…let it go! If it was that useful or important you would’ve surely used it in the past six months.
Less is More- Needs & Wants
If your current possessions seem to own you, instead of the other way around, maybe it’s time to ask yourself a few essential questions, such as:
- How much clothing do you really need?
- Do you need any more than three weeks worth of outfits per season?
- Then why do you own enough clothing to outfit five to ten women for a month?
- And speaking of clothing, must you hold onto those jeans that fit you 25 pounds ago? Does seeing them hanging in the closet make you feel any better about yourself, or do they seem to mock you as you choose an outfit each morning?
- And if you do manage to lose those 30 pounds again, don’t you think you deserve a new pair of jeans? I certainly do.
Liberation from the acquisition trap
Many of us, at some point in our lives have experienced the liberation of decluttering. Have you ever thoroughly cleaned out your closet, tossing or donating items that no longer serve you? Do you remember that feeling of freedom after you completed the task, when you looked into your closet and saw only items that currently fit? Maybe you even saw a little empty space! WOW! In addition, you benefited others by donating the excess clothing to Goodwill, or the charity of your choice. What a tremendous feeling! In the future, consider purging your closet of unusable items on a regular basis, perhaps monthly.
Since you’re considering handling the closet, take a good look at your bookshelves. Why do many of us feel we must own every single book we read? Yes, some books are like good friends and should be purchased and kept for the long haul, but many are not that special. Most public libraries are wonderful facilities and checking out a book is still absolutely free there. Considering the excess books on your shelves, I can tell you from personal experience that almost all your local libraries appreciate all donations of ‘reasonably used’ books. Another option for dealing with your over abundance of books is to pass a book along to a good friend, which can be a rewarding experience for both of you.
And ofcourse, if you’re really feeling bold and awesome, move on to the overstuffed shelves where you keep your old VHS tapes or Audio cassettes and DVDs. Haven’t watched some of them in years, right? Then here’s my friendly advice: recycle, recycle, recycle! Many people I know (myself included) have purchased a DVD library subscription over the past few years. It is a wonderful system, as you rent DVDs instead of purchasing them. This way, you won’t have to create additional DVD shelf space in your home. Is a DVD library more affordable than purchasing DVDs? You bet it is.
You’ll Never be sorry to ‘Downsize”
Sometimes people worry that if they begin decluttering in earnest they’ll miss all their old stuff. I can honestly say that I have NEVER talked to one ‘downsizer’ who was sorry that he or she had taken the plunge and tossed or donated all the excess baggage. Every one of them was pleased to be living with less.
In conclusion, instead of purchasing more and allowing our toy boxes to constantly overflow, we can become like the contented child with a limited number of play things. When we actually see and use everything we own, we appreciate our things all the more. And remember that the most effective way to avoid future clutter is to follow the one in-one out rule. When something new comes in, a similar item must go.
Now go ahead and donate that last pair of shoes/purse/jewelery/gadget/shirt that you just HAD to have last summer(mostly to show off 😉 ), but haven’t used more than once. And what if you miss it terribly when it’s gone?
Let me promise you that the shop where you purchased it from will still be there.
Get out of the acquisition trap and see how liberated you feel. I have and still am experiencing it. You feel so light , like you can fly like the butterfly. No excess to weigh you down.
What about you??? Have you felt this liberation? Or are you still stuck in the acquisition trap? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.
With Immense Love and Gratitude,