Emotion over logic.
To be entirely visceral is to be unreasonable, just as to be entirely reasonable can make one cold.
Logic is far easier understood than emotion. Logic comes from a place of reason and thought whereas emotion comes from experience, beliefs, upbringing and even the time of year! Logic is reliable and emotion is inherently unreliable. So then why is it that visceral feelings are so prominent when minimising our lives? I say that it is because we are human. This ability to feel emotions based on experiences is a quintessentially human trait.
When decluttering most of us start off with logic. I don’t wear this so I don’t need it. This box will be easy because I haven’t opened it in years. Of course we know that it just isn’t that simple. Sure some things will be easier than others but we are always going to hang onto things we think we need because we are emotionally attached to them and because many of our clutter items will be sentimental.
When I was younger concerts and gigs were my favourite thing and I would buy a tshirt every single time to remember the night. This lead to me owning literally BOXES of tshirts. When I was young I did wear all of these tshirts, some even got worn out, but as I grew older (and put on a little weight) I no longer wore these once treasured items.
After moving house with these old, unworn tshirts for the second time I realised they just had to go. I barely fit into any of them and they were not my style anymore. It was tough to pick up each one and let it go but I will always have the memories and I took photographs at the gigs, otherwise I would recommend take a picture of the item! I sold the good ones, recycled the tatty ones and gave the remainder to charity.
All along logic could have told me that those tshirts had to go but it was my very strong visceral feelings that held onto them. Sometimes we need to be ruthless, which means putting all emotion aside and really getting rid of the things we do not need, no matter how painful.
In my experience I have found decluttering pain to be short lived. Do you remember when I told you about Gizmo and Brown Bear? They were the hardest two things to throw away yet. But I did it, and I survived and i’m here to tell you that the pain is short lived! Trust me. I just re-read over that article I wrote and I wanted to let you know that I have in fact minimised all of those folders and they are a lot neater and have been put into 2 neat files, however i’m still working on getting rid of more.
Decluttering is hard because of the visceral feelings. I mean have you ever seen a rabbit burrow on the TV show hoarders? No? What about a birds nest? Animals do not hoard because they do not have the visceral feelings necessary to hold onto useless items.
Next time you feel yourself holding onto something you know to be of no value to your life, stop, and ask yourself: “How is this item adding value to my life?” Be honest with yourself but more importantly don’t beat yourself up about it. You have to be firm but fair on yourself. It is normal to be sentimental and it is normal for us to hold onto clutter, the important thing is that we notice the reasons why we do this and add a bit of logic into the mix. Logic will help us to figure out what is important to us just as much as the visceral feelings and finding a balance between reason and emotion is the secret.
Buddhists abide by the “middle way”, or at least they try to. They aim for enlightenment which they do not believe comes from material possessions. We can all take some valuable lessons from Buddhism, especially when it comes to minimalism. I think that finding a “middle way” between reason and emotion will help us all accomplish our minimalist goals.