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A Minimalist Life is Hard


A minimalist life is hard sometimes.  I spend a bunch of time talking about how great minimalism in the home is.  I honestly think that everyone would benefit from their own form of minimalism.  However, I wanted to take a post today to talk about how it isn’t always easy to adopt.  If you are struggling, tired, frustrated, or feel lost with the whole process you are not alone.  I struggle.  You are normal, those feelings are normal.

Changing what you are doing, including changing to a more minimalist life is hard and messy.

Life is hard and messy

… may as well get used to it now 🙂  Taking the easy road is not usually the best.  I was reminded of this reading Wrecked by Jeff Goins.  He talked about how life is hard and messy and it has been stuck in my head for a few weeks.  Not in the depressing sort of way.  Just in the realistic way.

There are several ways that adopting or living a minimalist life is hard that go beyond the time and physical energy and beyond the questions of what to keep or what to get rid of.  It is often these difficulties that are the hardest to overcome.

Others thinking I’m crazy

I wrote a whole post about this last week.  This is a big worry.  We worry about what people think for lots of different reasons – some good and some bad.  Some people are more worried than others about this.  However, this is one issue that is really out of our control.

Thinking others think I’m crazy

Thinking others will (or do) think we are crazy goes hand in hand with the issue above.  It might be a self-fulfilling prophecy or it might be created in our heads.  Often it just blows what other people think into a much bigger obstacle than it really is.

Self doubt and questioning.

The biggest is probably self-doubt.  We question if we really know what we are doing?  If we have really made the right decision?  If it is really better for us? our kids?  There is amazing self-doubt created when we go against society and in may ways it is beneficial (less people jump off bridges this way :)).

I don’t think self-doubt ever really goes away when you are trying to live intentionally.  I have self-doubt when it comes to minimalism, homeschooling, writing… and many more.

So adopting minimalism (or changing your life in another way) is messy and hard.  Living your own life is hard work, it takes time, others don’t always agree, and it is full of self-doubt.

But it is worth it 🙂

I think the only way to work through all these obstacles is by moving forward.  Decide where you want to end up (with minimalism in your time, schedule or other places).  See that as a final goal and take a step toward it each day.  Slowly, as you get closer to where you want to be, your mental muscles get stronger (probably your physical ones too), you become more confident, and you become more sure about your decision.  That is how it has been for me.

When we were just starting to adopt minimalism I knew nothing about it.  I didn’t even know what it was called.  I didn’t know anyone who was doing it.  All I knew is that I wanted less stuff so I could have more of my time back.  It wasn’t that I had never gone through our stuff before.  We had garage sales every summer and I already regularly took trips to goodwill.  What was different was that I knew we needed to decrease the total amount of stuff.  This was completely new territory.  All of a sudden, as if over night, all the things I ‘had to have’ in my house came into question.  Did I really need it?  Talk about overwhelming… that was a lot of stuff and I am not a decisive person.  At least daily (for months) my husband and I would ask each other ‘Are we crazy?  Is this smart?’.

I must have gone through everything in our house at least 20 times in the last 18 months.  At first I was shocked to find that things I originally really wanted to keep I would decide to give up later on.  It is a journey and a learning process.  The mental work takes time.

So if you are overwhelmed and feel like you aren’t getting anywhere, if you are scared or unsure if simplifying is right or unsure how much simplifying you need — you are just in a normal part of the process we all deal with.  I am not sure it makes it easier, but it is always better to know others are dealing with it too 🙂

Are you in the process of simplifying?  Is something slowing you down? (if you are reading RSS join us in the comments)

Homeschool Book Note:

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  1. So agreeing with this. Although in my de-cluttering the difficulties lay in the uncovering of emotions and hidden psychological scars. I have shed so many tears. It has been healing, but so difficult too. But at times I feel like I have ripped out my heart. Its not that I want any of the stuff back – but what some of it symbolised is hard to face but it is worth it

    • yes, thanks for adding and sharing that. That is another tough thing.

  2. Hi Loriliee,

    I have been reading through a lot of your archives lately and enjoying your story. No-one can doubt your sincerity. I have tended towards a more simple lifestyle all my life, and people sometimes find my choices confronting, even when I am not aiming to be controversial. Living simply challenges some of our most fundamental beliefs about what is important. Beliefs about security and responsibility and what we value which are really fundamental about the way we see the world. Its no wonder it gets a bit overwhelming sometimes. Simplifying and decluttering can seem incredibly mundane, but there are some really deep issues just beneath the surface. I am all for stepping back and taking a breather now and then!

    I have just been doing a major overhaul in the garage. I was in a good place when I started, but it was quite confronting when I came across paperwork and memorabilia from various stages of my life in the past. I got quite moody at times, facing up to things that didnt work out, or I would rather forget. The difference is this time I knew I how to handle it, emotionally and physically, and tore up or shredded anything that I didnt want to see again. It was a huge relief to realise I didn’t need to keep memorabilia from the bad times! I think it is good to acknowledge that this is a complex process and adopt a gentle approach to ourselves and those around us.

    • Jennifer G Jennifer G

      That is one good piece of advice I got a few years back. There is no point in keeping things that are going to make you feel bad when you look at them. Another thing was don’t keep anything that you don’t want future generations to know about you…diaries, for instance…do your great-great-grand children…or random strangers at your estate sale…really need to know how you and your mom/dad/boyfriend, etc fought or whatever???

      • MaryAnne Cullen MaryAnne Cullen

        Great idea!!

    • Yes Linda! Thanks so much for your comment and sharing 🙂 I agree.

  3. Jennifer G Jennifer G

    For me the hardest part has been doing it slowly and methodically and waiting for hubby to come around. In the past we have moved often and we always do a huge purge with each move. We’ve been in the same spot for 3 years now (the longest time we’ve ever been in one home) and we are both feeling anxious. So we are due for a purge again…but without moving as the catalyst, it is difficult to do. I want to do our master bedroom & closet this weekend. My ideal plan…have you ever seen the TLC show Clean Sweep…would be to move everything out on the lawn and throw out/donate at least half of it, and then only move the absolutely necessary (and/or beautiful) stuff back in.

    • Jennifer, I haven’t seen that show but it sounds like a fabulous idea 🙂 Good luck!

  4. My family has just started the process of simplifying our life. We are becoming more self sufficient and learning ways to make our lives simpler and more enjoyable. Like you, I want my time back! I’m tired of my days being filled with taking care of all of the things that I don’t really care about. Material things, electronic things, so many “things” that don’t matter all that much to me. Thanks for sharing this post. It made me feel better about a few doubts that I’ve been having about this lifestyle change.

    • Michelle, congratulations on your journey!

  5. I know for me, going against social norms leaves me constantly questioning my own choices. The pull of the norm can be so strong, I’ll even start seeing myself as crazy for trying to carve out a different way. I’ll feel afraid I’m missing out on something everyone else has. I have to keep grounding myself, reminding myself why I’m doing what I’m doing.

    • yes, totally, constantly questioning 🙂

  6. MaryAnne Cullen MaryAnne Cullen

    As the mother of nine children, this has been a constant process. This week we finally had three of the adult children take their things that were stored here over 10-15 years!!! The basement is neatly organized and gives me joy. We now only have a 14 year old at home and I am going through every nook and cranny through September and hope to be finally done. We stayed living in a row house so it is doable. While decluttering I have come across old notes and items that have made me depressed, but ultimately, throwing these items in the trash and giving unnecessary items to Goodwill makes the process uplifting!!!

    • yay! Congratulations 🙂

  7. Elizabeth Kane Elizabeth Kane

    I agree. I remember thinking a few years ago that living with fewer things would piece of cake. And that owning less and buying less would be easier than having more. But it was completely the opposite! Living simply has forced me to consider what I really need in my life to live each day to the fullest. It’s hard deciding what stays and what goes. Especially when our society tells us being “rich” means having more and buying more. It’s still challenging (and causes a few of my friends to think I’m a little crazy), but I never want *things* getting in the way of what’s important.

    • Yep. … I have a few friends thinking I am crazy too 🙂 Nice to meet you!

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