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3 challenges of minimalism and how to overcome them

challenges of minimalism, simplicity, personal growth, boundaries, toxic family
Photo by tu tu on Unsplash

I wrote about the four major benefits of decluttering in a previous post. In the interest of balance, I’d like to address some of the challenges of minimalism you might encounter on your journey.

Convincing your family to get on board is just one of the challenges of minimalism you might experience.

On your way toward a simpler life, there are three major obstacles. They take courage to overcome but here’s how to deal with them and come out victorious.

1. Family

You know all the benefits of minimalism. You’re looking forward to embarking on a deep decluttering journey.

To your surprise, your family doesn’t share your passion for downsizing. They’re scared you’re trying to take away their prized possessions.

Here are a few tips for getting your family on side when it comes to minimalism.

Give them control

Assure them you’ll get their permission before giving away any of their possessions. And stick to your promise.

Give them control over their own space, like their bedrooms, which they can declutter to their own comfort level. You get to tackle the common areas like living room and kitchen.

Show them the rewards

Demonstrate the rewards of decluttering. Rather than a dozen mediocre birthday presents, they can enjoy an amazing experience like a day trip.

Spending less on things will enable you to go on vacation or pay off debt faster. Tangible rewards incentivize your family by showing them decluttering is in their best interest.

2. Culture

Another of the major challenges of minimalism is the culture we live in. It’s become more popular in recent years, but minimalism still goes against the cultural grain.

It's become more popular in recent years, but minimalism still goes against the cultural grain. Click To Tweet

Our culture has moved away from the good stewardship it once valued. Now, we’re taught to covet material things, seek out brand names, and buy fast fashion.

Here are tips for dealing with the cultural challenges of minimalism.

Shift your mindset

When you struggle with feelings of inadequacy as you pare down your wardrobe, think about French women. Their closets consist of a few quality items they mix and match and wear again and again.

Who’s more fashionable than the French? Your streamlined wardrobe is simply more carefully edited. You’ve chosen quality over quantity.

Take pride in good stewardship

Rather than shame over your old iPhone, feel proud that you refuse to upgrade when the current model works just fine.

Even if you’re not a green warrior, consuming less is fantastic for the environment. This is true on a global scale, but also within your own home.

For instance, making your own cleaning products with simple ingredients rather than buying commercial brands, has a huge impact on your health. It clears the air and helps you breathe better, literally.

3. Yourself

Of all the challenges of minimalism, this one might be the hardest. You’re up against a lifetime of faulty programming.

Your fear of change. Your fear of disappointing people. Fear of standing up for your own needs.

Downsizing and decluttering is more than physical. The deeper you go in the process, the more boundaries you’ll have to set.

It might seem easier to stay the same. You may feel very alone at times.

Here are tips for dealing with your own tendency to stay stuck and resist the good change downsizing promotes in your life.

Have the hard conversations

If you have family members or friends who balk at your new commitment to a clutter-free lifestyle, talk to them about it.

Well before Christmas have a serious discussion about your expectations around gift-giving. Be clear about what you will and will not accept.

Tell them they can give one gift per family member (or whatever number you decide). If they ignore your wishes, let them know the children will pick one and give the rest away to a worthwhile cause.

Write down your top 5 values

Deciding what to keep and let go of helps you get clear on what you value. As a result you might find there are things in your life that don’t align with those values.

It’s possible you’ve lived your whole life misaligned with your values and this has caused you a great deal of pain. The disconnect has made you seek escape through unhelpful habits or even addictions.

When you get clear on your values and live by them, your sense of peace and fulfillment increases exponentially. You don’t have to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms like shopping or excess wine to make you feel better.

When you get clear on your values and live by them, your sense of peace and fulfillment increases. Click To Tweet

If you crave connection, for instance, spending most of your time with superficial people is going to harm you. Spend less time with them and cultivate relationships with people who share your desire to go deep.

In the same way, if you value solitude, a full house and constant contact with others will only leave you feeling depleted. Insist on alone time, plan for it, protect it and leave the house to get it when you need to.

Enlist support

Join groups that encourage your new minimalist lifestyle. Spend more time with people who embrace living with less.

Read blogs written by folks who have gone through the downsizing process and are now enjoying the results.

Try the Project 333 wardrobe challenge and wear the same 33 items of clothing for 3 months. Find others online who are doing the same.

Listen to podcasts that celebrate the myriad ways downsizing leads to a better life in all areas.

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