The identity + ego wrapped up in our possessions
I've already posted about the epic purging I'm doing to get ready for my long-term travels around the world. I'm only stashing a desk, two chairs, maybe 50% of my books, and a couple boxes of kitchen gear in my parent's garage. Everything else either fits in my 46L Osprey backpack or it's going going gone. When this process first began, I thought I'd be keeping and storing a lot more than I actually am at this point. Turns out the purging process is completely addicting. The idea of wiping the slate (nearly) clean has actually been a very healing process. I've learned a couple things about identify, ego, and energy as I've moved through all of this purging.
Our ego assigns identity to stuff.
The house that's bigger than The Jones's. The car that's sexier than the other guy's. The office wall plastered with diplomas and awards (um, hi...). Having pride in your achievements and what you've been able to provide for yourself is not categorically negative. However, when your possessions possess you, it's time to regroup.
"You are not your degrees," I said as I took my diplomas off my wall. "You are not your 11 bookcases + all the books on them," I said as I ransacked my living room. "You are not your four over-stuffed closets, you're not that dress, you're not those boots, " I said as I took a solid month to get rid of all my clothing. We can so easily wake up one day at the point that we believe our stuff defines us, that it says something about who we are as people, that it demonstrates how smart or creative we are. Our stuff is only an external manifestations of who we are. If you're smart and well-read, your brain is already full and gorgeous. It's okay to donate your books. Believe me, this one in particular took a while for me. When I finally let it all go, the liberation was profound.
Physical stuff holds energy.
How amazing did you feel after that really successful yard sale? You packed the few remaining bits in your car, drove through a Goodwill donation drop, and took a deep breath. It's because you cleared out a pocket of energy that you could use for other pursuits. The energy of physical stuff is the reason we're sentimental when it comes to donating our favorite painting or finally getting rid of our ex-boyfriend's sweatshirt. It's not only memories, it's actual energy. Picture that pile of papers stacked in your home. They need to be filed, organized, shredded, paid, whatever it is. Every time you think about that pile, walk past that pile, add to that pile, it consumes energy. Your stuff needs to be dusted, organized, maintained, accounted for...and it's energy expended that you can't then devote to living your best life.
I'm not monastic about all this. I will eventually shop again, I'm sure of it. I don't think stuff is evil (I do believe that mindless or fear-based consumerism is evil, but that's another post). The point is that I've never felt lighter or more free than I do right now...and I'm not even done purging and packing up the condo yet. This past weekend I shared a flea market booth with my friend Allie. When the event was done, I boxed everything that wasn't sold and dropped it into the on-site charitable donation bins. Done. Didn't think twice about it and didn't look back. Thousands of dollars of clothes and shoes and purses and art. Done.
When your possessions possess you, it's time to regroup. It's time to let go of the ego that needs to be defined by external displays of identity. That story is just fear, darling. Your ego is afraid that when you don't have 11 bookcases stuffed with tomes, no one will know how smart you are (for example...ahem). Let yourself trust that you are who you are at your core. Let yourself come from the centered place of love that allows you to de-clutter your life. Your energy will thank you for it, I promise you.
Pick three things that you can donate or recycle this week.
Three things, that's all. Start there. You probably already know what's draining your energy and what you no longer need in your life. The vast majority of my clothing went to a nonprofit that helps low-income women transition into the workforce. That gorgeous energy is 100% more beneficial to me than the energy of four over-stuffed closets I fought with every day. Let it go. Pick three things that you can donate or recycle, then bounce into the comments and let us know what you're committing to donate!
Love + new channels of energy,