What Do I Do With All My Stuff?
Do You Own the "Stuff", or Does The "Stuff" Own You?
By: Barbara Ehrenberg, MSW, LICSW, A Brighter Tomorrow Counseling
Have you ever been overwhelmed, stressed and burdened by the amount of “stuff” that you own? Do you own the “stuff”? Or does the “stuff” own you? Managing your stuff and simplifying things might be a key to reducing the stress in your life.
I met an elderly woman recently who is living alone, although she wishes to be living with her adult children several states away. She has been invited by her adult children to come live nearby them so they could see one another daily, as well as her grandchildren. Sadly, the elderly woman told me that although she would like to make the move, she could not. The problem is, moving would mean leaving many of her possessions behind and she is not willing to do so. She was given her mother’s china and various other family heirlooms, which her children do not want, but which she is unwilling to part with. Therefore, she had chosen to be “stuck” living alone and isolated from her family. Additionally, there is the added stress to managing all of her stuf.
“Stuff” has a way of taking up space, physically, emotionally and even relationally. “Stuff” can be the obstacle in the way of our freedom to make good choices. Excessive consumerism, fleeting fashion trends, electronic gadgets, and the next thing I “need”, beg the question: “How much is enough?” Too much “stuff” takes up time and space, and can potentially crowd out the truly meaningful aspects of life. When it comes to possessions, is it possible that less is more? It might be time to disown and take control of the “stuff” that has slowly crept in and owns more of more of you!
Questions To Ask Regarding your “Stuff”
If you answer “yes” to one or more of the following 10 questions, your “stuff” might own and causing you stress.
- Would I gain something (ex. time, space, emotional energy) by getting rid of the item?
- Is there someone that needs the item more than I do?
- Am I storing the item for some unlikely future need for it?
- Has it been over 1 year since I have needed or benefited by the item?
- Does this item bring negative feelings? Negative experiences?
- Would a photograph of the item be as meaningful as owning the item?
- Are there relationship benefits to getting rid of the item?
- Do I have unnecessary duplicates of the same item?
- Am I keeping the item because I don’t want to offend the person who gave it to me?
- Am I functioning as a “storage attendant” for this item?
Many people deal with having too much "stuff" in their lives and may find simplifying things to be overwhelming. Seeking the help of a professional counselor can often be an empowering step to gaining control in this area and may be great benefit in managing stress.