The Tannehill Homestead
Minimalism Simple Living

Struggles As A Minimalist: Part One

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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!

"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.

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?

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34 Comments

  • Reply
    Cara
    October 24, 2016 at 11:09 am

    This is great, Erin! I’ve tried to unsubscribe to online store e-mail updates to keep myself from purchasing things I don’t really need. It has helped tremendously, as I’m not constantly being tempted with items. Great advice on remembering it is a journey, that’s really helpful! 🙂

    • Reply
      Erin | A Welder's Wife
      October 27, 2016 at 9:39 am

      I am glad you found this helpful, Cara! I have subscribed to a few new websites to get the coupon code for an order I was placing [great marketing strategy]. Now, I either have to delete and unsubscribe from these marketing emails, or be tempted to purchase something I probably do not need. Ahh, consumerism in America! haha!

  • Reply
    Sarah Jean
    October 24, 2016 at 11:33 am

    Erin, I can identify with every single struggle. My husband isn’t that bad as far as keeping stuff, but he does not see the vision yet. (You should see his pen collection because we might “need them!”) Clutter also puts me on sensory overload and removing “stuff” has definitely helped me find balance and appreciate the little things better.

    • Reply
      Erin | A Welder's Wife
      October 27, 2016 at 9:42 am

      I know exactly how you feel with all of this, Sarah Jean! My husband has his “just in case” collections, and the only way I can cope is to find an out of sight place to store them that is not easily accessible for me… I may just declutter them if it is easily accessible. 😉 The less clutter the better, even in close drawers.

  • Reply
    Sam
    October 24, 2016 at 8:16 pm

    I to am in the process of becoming a minimalist and I do find it hard when other family members don’t understand. I guess it’s about balance and coming to a place of agreement. I enjoy decluttering though, it is so freeing and makes me feel at peace! 🙂

    • Reply
      Erin | A Welder's Wife
      October 27, 2016 at 9:46 am

      I understand exactly how you feel, Sam! At first, my husband thought I was decluttering because we were putting our home on the market and moving. It was not until we started moving into our new home that he realized I was changing our household lifestyle. As long as I stayed open about my next move, we were able to work out compromises to make us both happy. For instance, he has more socks than anyone knows what to do with, but he will not allow me to cull old ones unless they have holes in them. Our compromise in this situation was he can have two weeks worth of socks in his drawers and the rest would be stored with his extra clothing [same situation there too!]. It works for both of us while we are living in such a small space compared to before we moved.

  • Reply
    Rebecca Hicks
    October 26, 2016 at 7:55 am

    You are so inspiring!! I am hoping to slowly start working on decluttering my life. Luckily, I don’t have much, but I know it is easy to accumulate and accumulate as the years go on. My goal for the end of the year is to declutter my clothes and craft closet (which are both a nightmare right now!).

    • Reply
      Erin | A Welder's Wife
      October 27, 2016 at 9:50 am

      Thank you, Rebecca! That means a lot! Accumulating is definitely easier than removing! I try to evaluate my things every other month, unless things are noticeably getting out of hand. So far, that has worked great for me. Good luck with your clothes and craft closet! Crafts were my nightmare when it came to decluttering! So I definitely feel your pain, but you can do it! 🙂

  • Reply
    Mrs. Mommy Mack
    December 19, 2016 at 7:20 am

    Ughhhhhhhh…Getting gifts is a BIG problem in our house. Or when family members give you their castaways. So. Much. Stuff!

    • Reply
      Erin | A Welder's Wife
      December 19, 2016 at 8:10 am

      I understand completely! My family used to be the same way, but after explaining time and time again that I simply do not have the space, they have relaxed a bit.

  • Reply
    candy
    December 19, 2016 at 7:42 am

    Family members can stand in your way if they don’t see your vision or want to get rid of just stuff. We started with this rule if we haven’t worn it, used it or touched it in five years it goes. After that we moved the time line down to two years. Amazing how much stuff went out the door. It is something we work on all the time slowly together.

    • Reply
      Erin | A Welder's Wife
      December 19, 2016 at 8:12 am

      Yes, Candy! If they do not have the same vision, it definitely interrupts progress. I had several months of decluttering underway before my family understood that I was not going to store much due to downsizing. I just do not see why I need to keep things that will not be used for a long time. Others can enjoy it, so I either sell or donate these items.

  • Reply
    Sarah Jean Althouse
    December 19, 2016 at 8:05 am

    The struggle is real! My sort of hoarding family will never understand…nor why I don’t want a popcorn machine. haha!

  • Reply
    Emily
    December 19, 2016 at 11:10 am

    Thanks for this post. My husband is not only NOT a minimalist, he is actually a collector. It’s a constant struggle because while I want to declutter and clean out, I feel like his stuff will just fill the space I open up. It’s something we have started talking about, but we haven’t reached an agreement yet.

    • Reply
      Erin | A Welder's Wife
      December 19, 2016 at 1:26 pm

      I understand, Emily! It takes time to get on the same page. I know it took a lot of time and open communication about what we wanted our home to be like. My best advice is to keep communicating, but do it with heart. Do not communicate when you are aggravated or mad at each other. Being calm and having your thoughts collected is a big help! Compromise is the other key factor. You will get there, just keep working at it!

    • Reply
      laura gutierrez
      December 11, 2017 at 12:53 pm

      I have had success with letting him know this one space is yours and specify perimeters and ask that he not put anything there at all even just for a minute this worked with a hoarder roommate the space was a bay window i explained i liked to see the pretty blue tile. thought this might help and might be a good place to start~ good luck and peace, Laura

      • Reply
        Erin | A Welder's Wife
        December 15, 2017 at 7:45 am

        That is a good way to do things, Laura! It sets boundaries in a way that works for everyone. They have “their” space, and you have your own. However, it is difficult sometimes when it is a common area. I like that you explain why you do not want their things in a particular space within your common area.

  • Reply
    Kassandra
    December 19, 2016 at 11:25 am

    Wow, this is such an awesome list!!
    I am slowly and surly transitioning my life into minimalism! It it so darn hard but I hate clutter! I’m going to save this list for later 🙂

    Kass

    • Reply
      Erin | A Welder's Wife
      December 19, 2016 at 1:26 pm

      It can be difficult, Kassandra. It did not happen for me over night, but every bit of the effort is worth the end results! Just keep at it! 🙂

  • Reply
    Rachel
    December 19, 2016 at 12:41 pm

    Interesting insight! While I know I couldn’t be a super minimalist, there are definitely smaller steps I’m ready to start with. I hate the feeling of clutter!

    • Reply
      Erin | A Welder's Wife
      December 19, 2016 at 1:28 pm

      Thank you, Rachel! I agree. I could not be a minimalist who only owns 100 items. I believe you should own what brings you happiness and serves a purpose in your life. For me, this has been the key to eliminate all the clutter from my home.

  • Reply
    Christine
    December 19, 2016 at 2:18 pm

    I’ve become a minimalist after loosing everything to a house fire. I’ve really been struggling with family members who try to push things on me that I really don’t want. Now that we are in our new home, I only want the things I absolutely love. Thanks for posting this as I wasn’t sure anyone really understood the struggle!

    • Reply
      Erin | A Welder's Wife
      December 19, 2016 at 4:38 pm

      I am so glad you found comfort in it, Christine! Yes, I completely understand family pushing things on your thinking you want them, when that may not be the case. I agree; if you do not love it, it does not deserve space in your home.

  • Reply
    Kiara
    December 19, 2016 at 7:57 pm

    I loved everything about this post because almost ALL OF THESE I can relate to. Especially with receiving gifts that you obviously don’t want to come off rude or ungrateful–but if you don’t love it or need it, why keep it? I am so glad that you wrote about this because I know there are so many other people who can relate to these struggles as well! I always love coming back to your content for minimalism inspiration!

    • Reply
      Erin | A Welder's Wife
      December 20, 2016 at 8:47 pm

      Ahh! Kiara, you know exactly how to make me swoon! This is exactly why I wrote this post. As I mentioned in the post, I am only giving advice based on experience, so if I can help you or someone else avoid what I may have experienced, it was worth the effort!

  • Reply
    Erica Nicole
    December 19, 2016 at 9:22 pm

    oh. my. gosh. from 1-6 these are all thoughts and feelings that I have had since I’ve even had a minimal mindset. I hate that consumerism CONSTANTLY consumes me. I hate that my husband won’t get on board and get rid of stuff. Most importantly, I hate the fact that I worry about what others will think of me. Trying to be a minimalist is hard BUT it’s a good thing! It also is so beneficial for you and the world so let’s continue to motivate one another to keep going on this journey!

    • Reply
      Erin | A Welder's Wife
      December 20, 2016 at 8:52 pm

      Erica, I completely understand what you are feeling in your journey. At first, I worried what others would think. However, it all changed when I figured out how to communicate WHY I decided to become a minimalist. I challenge you to do the same. Also, we as humans are programmed to consume, but making a conscious effort to replace consumption with different alternatives can lesson the severity of it. Most of the time, we consume due to boredom. So I personally started to write and read books more often. This helped me a lot!

  • Reply
    Brigitte
    January 9, 2017 at 7:34 pm

    I feel like I’m in a constant struggle of me vs. everyone else in my household. I have leaned toward minimalism for years, but I can’t get my husband or kids on board. I’m constantly donating or selling things, and I truly feel no real connection to (almost) any possession in my house. I want my home to feel cozy but uncluttered. I really do worry about what others think and what my home conveys when people come over. A frustrating moment recently was when a neighbor popped in unexpectedly and, when I apologized for some boxes and clutter sitting around, she characterized my house as “messy, but not dirty”. The fact that she sees it as messy, when I work daily to try to make it look otherwise, really hurt my feelings. I felt as though all of my worry and trying is for nothing. As a child of a hoarder, I see myself slowly turning into one, try as I may to avoid it. It is a constant battle against stuff. Mostly other people’s stuff! My husband refuses to get rid of anything and says that he likes to be surrounded by his things. My kids are gifted so many things that they don’t care about or take care of. It is especially hard now after the holidays. I just discovered your blog and look forward to lots more inspiration from you! (Thanks for letting me vent!)

    • Reply
      Erin | A Welder's Wife
      January 9, 2017 at 8:13 pm

      Brigitte, I can only imagine the struggle you face. I am in no position to offer advice [I do not have children], but I will recommend a book that I think may help. The book is Living Well Spending Less by Ruth Soukup. It helped me when I felt like I was drowning due to my possessions. 🙂 By the way, I am here any time you need to vent.

      • Reply
        Brigitte
        January 9, 2017 at 9:59 pm

        Thank you, Erin! The book has a waiting list at my library, but I am now next in line to get her newer book titled Unstuffed. Thank you for the recommendation and for the sweet comment. 🙂

        • Reply
          Erin | A Welder's Wife
          January 11, 2017 at 10:20 am

          Absolutely! I have been wanting to read Unstuffed! Let me know what you think about it, Brigitte!

  • Reply
    Neda Arafat
    February 3, 2018 at 4:38 am

    Buying less clutter saves you time cleaning, saves money and is destressing to see clear surfaces and have less to manage.
    I bring these points up often to my family and so our new goal is to spend less time in stores and purging gifts every 3- 4 months. We feel once we are bored with an item it’s time to give it to someone else, usually the shelter, who will treasure them.
    I’ve noticed it’s easier to part with clutter if it’s out of sight first. So I put it in a box then in a month decide if I didn’t miss it or take it out to use then I don’t need it. Also, I do garage sales, list them on Craigslist and ebay and use the money for going out on dates with my husband to restaurants. I feel I got its worth and turned things into memories of things we could afford to do together.

    • Reply
      Erin | A Welder's Wife
      February 19, 2018 at 7:48 pm

      I love that you are making it a family affair. Turning the clutter into cash then into experiences is a great transformation for any family! So glad to hear you are taking charge and shaping your family’s memories, Neda!

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