Decluttering is Shallow

If minimalism is deep, then decluttering is shallow.  I don’t mean shallow in a judgmental, negative sense.  Rather, that decluttering our home is the act of peeling back the initial layer of what hides our authentic selves.  Decluttering removes what is on the surface, in essence, exfoliating the superficial surface of our lifestyle, revealing a glimpse of the true person underneath.

It can be easy to become stuck in decluttering, and to avoid moving on to the deeper actions of crafting your life.  Figuring out who you truly are and what motivates you involves feeling vulnerable.  It feels safer to dwell in the shallows, rearranging a bookshelf, or wiping the kitchen countertops, quietly avoiding the possessions you have a difficult time addressing but know you want to let go.  It is easy to hide.

I have been there.  Sometimes I feel stuck or stagnant in my minimalism practice, which I believe is something to be embraced and celebrated.  This discomfort means I’ve gotten past the shallows, and can begin to dive deeper into who I am and what person I want to be in the world.  When there are no distractions to hide behind, and no more easy things to get rid of, there is opportunity for self-discovery.

Going deep involves facing your shortcomings.  For me, that was feeling like I wasn’t fit enough, or thin enough, or popular enough, or doing work that I cared about.  What that looked like in my home was lots of fitness gear, kitchen gadgets, luxury items, and books on self-improvement, creativity, and adventure.  These were the possessions I valued, but they were standing in my way.

It felt so much safer to stay home and consume content, reading about things that others were doing.  I bought new pieces of fitness gear, hoping to find a shortcut to speed or ease the effort of working out.  I justified my nutritional shortcomings by dwelling on healthy cooking.  I purchased a house that was too large and difficult to maintain.

What I wasn’t doing in accumulating these things was diving deeper into my life by taking action.  You cannot curate the life you want by making aspirational purchases.  In fact, I think it can be paralyzing to own these things.  Things distract you from taking effective action.  Things shelter you from the rewards that come from struggle.  Things are just a snapshot of who you want to be.

Go ahead and dive deep.  Keep the things that serve you, but let go of the things that serve as a safety net or a distraction.  Build resourcefulness, empowerment, and self-confidence by accomplishing things with less.  Be vulnerable.  Be enough.   Be you.

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