What if the question isn’t about the worth of your stuff?
“What’s the one thing you hate the most about yourself?”
I was asked this question recently. Not directly, but as part of an audio course on healing the inner wound and finding the lost self – according to the instructor, the inner wound is typically where you hate yourself the most.
“I can only pick one?” I thought to myself.
The key word in the question is ‘most’, so I thought about it and wrote my answer in my journal. Looking at my most hated thing I realized how all the other things I similarly disliked branched off this one most hated thing.
One isolated and cut off piece of myself deep inside infected so many others parts of me. This was the most exposed I’d ever been, even if only to myself and my personal journal.
The question felt cold and sharp against my inner wound, but I’m learning that’s the way toward healing. So I started asking more cold and sharp-edged questions in my life, like this one:
“What if the question isn’t what your stuff is worth, but what YOU are worth?”
I think most of us would say that if we lost everything we owned in a fire, but ourselves and our families and pets came out alive then nothing else matters. Of course we would, and I’ve heard it from families over the years during the terrible wildfires Southern California is prone to.
But, what about today, right now in your daily life where you’re not sifting through the physical ashes of your possessions, but through the ashes of unmet expectations, tiresome routines, relentless clutter, and busyness? Are YOU worth more?
Do you believe YOU are worth more than the ashy shuffling from one thing to the next?
We worry about getting the best deal, appreciation of land or collectibles, designer brands (and prices), making a good impression, opportunity cost, and time vs. value. We make decisions based on the market numbers and real estate projections, we drive to four grocery stores to save a few bucks, and we cut our holiday for gratitude short to get a new TV.
There is value in all of that, but what about your value? Where are YOU in those things?
Are those valuable things and ideas adding to YOUR worth? Not your bank account, but your inner self-worth and identity?
I’m asking a lot of questions because I haven’t always asked the right questions in my own life. I’m not asking to judge, I’m asking simply to ask. To spark more questions and inspire more answers.
Because here is the truth: YOU are worth more. I am too (it’s taken a lot of asking and answering to believe it).
We are worth more than our stuff and minimalism gives us the space to live like it. When we let go of our stuff and exchange it to embrace our value apart from it, we connect our soul and self worth with our lifestyle. The power we used to give to our stuff to provide our worth is now the energy supply for the essentials.
What’s the one thing most of your energy is spent on? Is it debt? Is it upkeep for a cluttered and oversized home? Is it an overbooked schedule or obsessive comparison and perfectionism?
You are worth more and your energy is worth more. Minimalism restores your true value.
I don’t want to throw out more questions, so I’ll leave you with these three ways to value yourself more than your stuff:
Learn to say no
To yourself and to others.
Say no to impulse purchases that satisfy temporary desires. Say no to invitations that aren’t essential to your priorities, relationships, or career. Give yourself permission to say no to expectations, perfectionism, negative self-talk, body shaming, distraction, and intimidation.
No is simply a boundary line. It’s not selfish or rude (if communicated thoughtfully). It allows others to know where your boundaries are, and they will respect you more because of it.
Drop the labels
Literally and figuratively.
If you’ve been paying attention when you leave your house it seems label promotion is all the rage. Designer bags with their logo as the pattern. A green straw in a clear (or white) cup is a status symbol of sorts (full disclosure: I have said straw and cup next to me as I write this). White headphones and trendy clubs and the latest ‘it’ baby carriers… effective branding is now in the consumer’s hands.
I’m also using said white headphones plugged in to my brand-obvious white smart phone, so I’m not exempt from this phenomenon. In fact, I struggle to not seek validation from labels and brands I use, which brings me to my next point:
Take a week off from the branding culture. Wear non-brand descript clothing. Go to an independent coffee shop. Wear and use non-branded or brand-obvious items for one week and take notice of your brand to self-worth relationship. Take some time to notice if your self-worth is caught up with your net-worth.
Maybe you don’t care about brands. In that case, drop the figurative labels.
Remove the labels you’ve been branded with, either your own or someone else’s. Perfectionist? Share with a friend a mistake you made recently. Quiet? Speak up in a group conversation. Loud? Listen with intention. Messy? Clean up. Strict? Let loose. Fearful? Do something that scares you.
Bless others instead of being quick to label them. Be grateful instead, and celebrate their inherent value despite their flaws and struggles.
Make time for others
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” –Ghandi
Make time to spend with family, friends, or helping someone in need. Mow the neighbor’s lawn, read to a child, start a conversation with a co-worker who always sits alone in the break room. Be available.
This will serve to be infinitely more valuable than watching your favorite show, scrolling through your feed, or organizing another junk drawer.
Minimalism doesn’t question the value of our stuff. It questions the value we place on ourselves. And when we answer hard questions like that we find our way to the answers that heal our souls.