Do you ever feel that reaching minimalism is two steps forward, one step backward?
That getting to a point where you have “enough and no more” is a struggle?
I feel that way sometimes. When I first decided that minimalism was for me, I thought it would be easy. I figured I’d just cull all the junk, sell the stuff I didn’t need and – hey, presto! – I’d be a minimalist. Insta-minimalista!
It didn’t quite happen that way.
We learn what we see.
We live in a consumer culture, and I come from a particularly consumerist family. My family buys stuff to prove our love for each other. My mother shops to make herself happy, and buys toys for my kids to show how she cares.
That’s not a bad thing, and she’s a wonderful person. Don’t get me wrong. But unfortunately I picked up those same shopping, consumer-y habits from her. I learned to shop when I was down, and buy stuff for others to show my love for them. I learned what I saw.
And when I decided I had too much stuff, and wanted less in my life, I found it very hard to change.
I’d start with the best intentions, but soon I’d find myself out shopping for something new. I’d realise I just needed this or I just had to replace that. There was always a need for more. There was always a way to use up every last cent I had.
Consumerism filled every aspect of my life and home
I’d even find myself buying replacements for food we hadn’t eaten yet. That toothpaste tube that was 1/4 full? Better buy the next tube now, so we’ve got some more for when it empties! I’d get this odd joy in using up the last bit of soap or last squeeze of toothpaste or shampoo. Because then I could use the new one.
I don’t understand it even now, but maybe you’ve felt something similar. It’s the joy of consumerism. Addiction to using new stuff. It made me feel special, and valued, to be using something new.
I don’t get it, but by trying to explain it here, I’m trying to understand and come to terms with it.
I think consumerism – and shopping – are addictions. Just as much as eating can be an addiction, or smoking can, or drugs.
And it’s killing us. It’s making us miserable, and it’s making us poor, and it’s wasting and cannibalising our lives and our happiness and our planet. This endless consumption is a disease with we humans.
Finding a way out of the madness.
Minimalism is a search for a way out of the madness. And I believe we can do it. But, like quitting any addiction, it’s two steps forward, one step back.
The Japanese have a saying: Fall seven times, stand up eight. Be stronger than your weakness. It doesn’t matter how many times you fail, as long as you get up again, and try again.
So be gentle on yourself. If you, like me, find change a struggle, don’t be harsh on yourself. Remember that all change is difficult. But the fact that you’re making the change, and doing your best – that’s something to be proud of.
We’re human, not machines. We make mistakes. But we’re persistent little blighters. And I believe we can transform our lives in miraculous ways.
We just need to stand up.