A while back, I asked the question in a minimalist group that I am a member of, “Aside from decluttering, what are your struggles as a minimalist?” The answers given were some what expected, but there were a few that shocked me. Starting and maintaining a minimalist lifestyle is not as simple as boxing everything up and donating it. You have many other factors that can work with you or against you.
Personally, I have experienced a few struggles during this transition, and have come out the other side happier than I could have imagined. While I am not one to give advice on situations I have not encountered, I thought I could possibly help shed some light on things I have encountered. Struggling is not fun, especially when you think you are alone with it.
My goal is that by the end of this post, if you are striving to start or maintain a minimalist lifestyle, you will realize you are not alone. Someone somewhere has been through what you are going through, and maybe you will find that answer here. If not, I encourage you to personally contact me or leave a comment to see if I can point you in the right direction. I want each of us to be successful in our journey through minimalism!
If you have any questions regarding what you read in this post or have something to add, please let me know below in the comments!
Struggles as a Minimalist
Minimalism Struggle #1
Family/spouse not supporting your vision // This one can be tricky for many reasons. If you have a spouse that does not believe in living with only essentials, it can be a struggle to find a happy medium. If you live at home with your family, it can be difficult to make your space your own, considering all of the influence in the rest of the home that may not support your vision.
Often times the missing key is communication. Being open with them about what your vision is and why can open the door to achieving your vision. My personal experience with my husband was a rocky start. He did not understand why I was letting go of a perfectly good spatula or bath towels [we still have too many, but that is another story for another time]. Once I explained to him that having multiple of an item was more of an excess than convenience, he allowed me to continue. This did not happen in one conversation either. We had multiple conversations where I answered his questions and I asked questions. Once we got on the same page, things were a lot better. He still has his opinion and I have mine, but we have worked to find the common ground.
Related Post: 6 Tips For Living With Someone Who Isn’t A Minimalist.
Minimalism Struggle #2
Receiving gifts that are not needed or wanted // I believe we have all been in these shoes as a minimalist or not. What do you do with these items? Do you keep them out of guilt, or do you pass them onto someone else? There is not a perfect answer for this, but the best answer I can provide is to think of yourself as the gift giver. Would you want someone to hold onto something you gifted them if you did not need or want it? Odds are no, you would not.
I would hate it if someone kept something I gifted them years ago that they did not love, need, or want. I would want them to pass it onto someone who would love, need, or want it. Items do not own us, so do not let a gift own you! Appreciate the memory of the receiving the gift and allow yourself to let go of it.
Minimalism Struggle #3
Unhappy with your progress // Minimalism is a journey. As you progress, your vision may evolve. Patience is something that goes hand in hand with this transition, but sometimes there is not enough to go around the room. I have been on my journey for over a year, and I am definitely not where I want to or thought I would be. I look though pictures of other people’s spaces, and think that is where I wish I was. However, what ends up happening is a terrible comparison game versus being excited for the progress made so far. The pictures I view could have been years in progress, where I am only just over a year in my progress.
Another reason for being unhappy with your progress is you feel others are slowing you down with decluttering or tidying. Having others bring more into the home as you are taking things out will always be a cycle. You have to decide how much you allow to come into the home, or it will continue to be a vicious cycle. I try to focus on one thing in another out, and it has helped! Being conscious of this cycle can help you see where your focus needs to be directed.
If toys are an issue, try boxing up all of the toys for 30 days. Only remove from the box what the child asks for specifically, and do not allow them to dig through the box. At the end of 30 days, what remains is what they do not value. The good news for them is they will get to help children who do not have toys to play with, as they do. It will also cut down on the toys in your home. Just be sure to explain this process to them; and who knows, they may suggest which toys they want to give to a needy child!
Minimalism Struggle #4
Consumerism is taking over your life // Minimalism for many is a way to end the vicious cycle of consumerism. It is definitely not easy to overcome and is probably the most difficult part of transitioning to a simpler lifestyle. I am not sure there is not a person who does not struggle with this in some form or another. For some, shopping is a hobby or past time that often ends with questionable purchases or regret. By focusing on not purchasing, you could easily push yourself into a major shopping trip that is not needed.
First, I suggest finding a new hobby to fill this time, such as drawing, writing, exercising, etc. When you always have something to do, it leaves little time for shopping. If you are an online shopper, there are different ways you can block the sites during specific hours, so that you do not impulse shop.
Second, you can create a rule for shopping, such as giving yourself 24 hours, a week, or a month to think about purchasing a particular product. I do this often, and it saves me a lot of money! I can easily give a week to thinking about purchases before making a decision, but I am trying to push this to a month. If I am still thinking about it a month from now, it is probably worth spending the money on and deserves to take up space in my home.
Minimalism Struggle #5
Discovering who you really are // Refocusing your life on what is important to you not only frees your mind of stress with clutter, it creates space in your mind to discover who you really are. For some it is great! For others… maybe not so great. Regardless, being able to identify who you are and who you want to become are easier to work on and adjust. If you are not happy with who you realize you are, it is okay. The important thing is to figure out who you want to be and work towards being that person. It is never too late to work on YOU!
I can tell you first hand that I was not excited about the person I was once I had the chance to see who that was. Now I have a plan to become who I believe I can be! To me, it is no different than quitting a bad habit. You just have to figure out how to change, and do it! It is as simple as taking a step. Notice I did not say easy, because it is not easy. But it is quite simple.
Minimalism Struggle #6
What other people think of your lifestyle // I will be the first to tell you that my friends and family do not understand why I live a minimalist lifestyle. Some believe that is an excuse to rid themselves of things they do not want and push it on me. They may also believe that minimalism is a code word for being broke. The crazy thing is that minimalism [for me] is the opposite! I live with what I need and only that. If it looks like I am broke, well we can agree to disagree.
I could tell people I am happier with less and do not regret a single discard, and they would not believe me. They cannot understand it, and that is something you have to come to terms with at some point. People who do not get it may even bring you a bunch of things they no longer need, because they think you need it. If this happens to you, you have two options: 1. You accept these items [and eventually donate them], or 2. You can politely decline their offerings.
The biggest thing to overcoming this struggle is to not allow yourself to care what other people think. As humans, I realize this is extremely difficult for some. But if you live with wondering what other people think, you may not have the will power to continue working towards your vision.
I would love it if my home looked like a house on the market ready to sell, because that is when I am the happiest being in my home. It is something I work towards consistently. The way I see it is if you do not live under my roof, then your opinion is your opinion. I am sorry if that sounds harsh, but not everyone has the same tolerance for clutter as I do. My sensory levels can easily overload; while others can take be in a room full of things or lots of people with no problem. To each their own.
If you enjoyed this post and would like me to discuss any of these in better detail, let me know below in the comments.
Also, let me know if there is something I have not covered that you would like me to discuss!
Lastly, what are some struggles you have faced during your minimalism journey, and how did you overcome them?