Unhappy Collecting

So I have been trying to clean out my closets and my basement in order to simplify my life. I have started asking myself many questions during this process – like why did I collect all this stuff to begin with? What am I going to with it now? Should I just throw it out, donate, or sell it? I feel like I put so much time and energy into collecting these things that to just unceremoniously dump it all would be just, well…wrong.

Collecting all this stuff hasn’t made me happy. In fact, it is now having the effect of making me very unhappy. So now I am simplifying. It reminds me of a quote “You have succeeded in life when all you really want is only what you really need.” I remind myself I am practicing aparigraha or non-hoarding, one of the yamas…letting go. 

It was hard to believe I had accumulated this much stuff – clothes, boots, coats, hats and handbags. There were pictures, frames, scrapbooking supplies and books. Lots and lots of books. All of this is taking up a lot of space. When objects take up a lot of space, they can take up a lot of energy, too. Just the presence of this much stuff was overwhelming to me.

As I sorted through my belongings, I realized that I had invested many possessions with emotional attachments. I had memories attached to them. They were attached to my identity. How was I going to get rid of them?

Some things I got rid of easily. Other things, especially clothing items, some I hadn’t worn in over a year, I wanted to keep. One item in particular was this maxi dress I bought two years ago. I have never worn it. It was really not that flattering and was a bit busy for my taste so why was I holding on? Why did I buy it to begin with? I remembered I had purchased it at a ladies night out after seeing the saleslady in it. I remembered she was so confident in herself and seemed so successful. Things I wanted for myself.

Somehow this dress was a symbol of something I wanted to be.

 I put the dress in the donate bag and tried not to think about taking it out any more.

 I felt a greater sense of clarity after realizing why I held on to the dress. I continued to sort through things, paying extra attention when I resisted letting go. Each one seemed to have an emotional attachment for me.

 I need to stop identifying my material possessions with who I am. I am so much more than my possessions. By letting go of these things, I was free to be my true self and it felt wonderful to be so much lighter and freer of these things that had bogged me down for so long. I was finding a balance between too much and too little. I wasn’t going to get rid of things I really needed to survive. I am going to let that be enough and strive to not be emotionally attached to those things.

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