Knowing Thyself Through Minimalism

When I became a minimalist, I had to discard the majority of my posessions and retain a very carefully curated selection of items – items that were truly essential for living and items that spark joy (reference to Konmarie method of minimalism). In the process of deciding which objects to discard and which to keep, I developed a better understanding of my personal preferences (i.e. Likes and dislikes).

I am a very accommodating person. I am accommodating to an extent that I am self-deprecating. I do not have a very healthy self esteem but somehow my strong Catholic beliefs offered me respite. For the longest time, I considered my lack of healthy self esteem a sign of holiness – a poverty of spirit.

Somehow, in my process of minimalism adoption, something deep was stirred within me. I got to know myself better. There were so many objects in my life that I kept because of self doubt. I trusted others more than I trusted myself. Most of those objects were gifts from my loved ones. I often thought to myself :“If ___ thought that I needed it, he/she must be right. I had better keep this in case I need it later.” There were other thoughts like: “If ____ thought this bag was suitable for me, he/she must be right. After all I do not have much fashion sense.” Hence, I clung on all to those objects although I did not need or like them much.

When my husband and I commenced the process of decluttering, he was surprised that I could part with so many of my possessions so quickly. I told him: “I was always worried that you would scold me for being wasteful if I discarded my things. Your adoption of minimalism was the final ‘stamp of approval’ to part with my belongings.” Alas, my poor self esteem caused me to be so ‘subjugated’ to my husband that I did not feel that I had much control of my belongings.

After parting with so many of my belongings, items that I have kept for years, I begun to notice the items that remained. Most of those items were items that I chose for myself, items that I have used time and time again without complain.

I am a different person now – simply because I realised that I am a human being who deserves to have likes and dislikes.

Every human being has preferences. One can not expect to walk into an international buffet and like all the foods there equally. Similarly, one should not be expected to like all things equally. Take it another step further – one should not be expected to like all people equally. There are definitely going to be people in our lives whom we will like more than others. We, as human beings, tend to gravitate towards like-minded people who share our interests.

On the flip side, there will always be people who will rub us off the wrong way. I used to struggle a lot with negative feelings towards people. When I had a negative thought towards someone (e.g. This woman is so rude and inconsiderate.), I would pray unceasingly for God to purify my soul and remove these negative feelings so that I could love the person fully.

I now understand that this was the wrong way to pray. The correct prayer would have been to pray for the persistence to love the other in spite of my current lack of affection and natural inclination to that person. It is alright to dislike people. We simply have to accept these emotions and love the people (i.e. treat them with kindness and respect) anyway.

I know that minimalism is not a ‘movement’ that is tied to any religion specifically. Discussing both minimalism and Catholicism in a single blog entry can be confounding and unsettling for some readers. However, I truly feel that adopting minimalism has opened new doors of spiritual growth for me. I am now better able to acknowledge and reconcile the negative feelings within me. Correspondingly, I am better able to say ‘No’ to abusive relationships that I have endured and condoned for years.

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