Turns out . . . it’s not just about the stuff!

“You can never get enough of what you don’t really need . . .” ~ Eric Hoffer

A few years ago, I travelled to California where I spent 3 days in Palm Springs fueling my obsession with mid-century modern design, and the following 3 days attending my first National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) conference in California.  ‘Holy overwhelm’ Batman! Imagine, if you will, several hundred organizers from all walks of life practicing all sorts of organizing specialties from all parts of the world. More interesting though, and this is what I want to share with you, was the common thread running through that conference addressing our love of stuff. Consider the following and let me know what your thoughts are on them:

“Our physical space is a manifestation of our emotional state,” says Professional Organizer, Christina Gomes.  I totally agree with her that excess clutter can be a symptom of some type of unbalance in your life and that your “stuff” has its own energy.  Keep in mind that as you let go of your belongings, you open space for new things to show up in your life.

We are constantly being trained to consume.  I was just sharing with a friend that I had seen a television commercial for a specific haircare product line probably dozens of times.  I don’t need to buy that product because I already have something that I am quite happy with. However, after seeing that commercial over and over again, I eventually became convinced that I had to try it because it just might be better than what I was using.  Fortunately, I usually go to Twitter to check out product reviews before I order something online. There were several very negative comments so I didn’t order it, but I certainly was very close.  That’s what is referred to as consumption training.  Always take a step back before you make a purchase and question why you’re doing it.

Overbuying can become a problem. Ask yourself if you use shopping as a quick fix when you’re feeling a bit down.  Do you spend more than you can afford?  Do you still have items you have purchased stored in the original shopping bags unopened or unused? And finally, the most important question, would your life be better in some way if you were shopping less? Practice what Dr. April Benson refers to as “mindful shopping”.

Practice saying ‘No’.  We can bring excess into our lives not only by purchasing stuff but by taking on too much. Ask yourself at the end of each day if you spent your time wisely because you cannot get that time back. It’s like money, once you’ve spent it, it’s gone. When someone asks us to do something we are preprogrammed to say ‘yes’ and being aware of that is the place to start. Decide ahead of time what you are going to say “no” to and practice your responses.  Here’s a great quote from Susan Lasky who taught us the power of saying ‘no’. “Saying NO is about self-protection, not rejection of others.”

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