Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Attitude Adjustment

I read in an article somewhere, maybe by Martha Beck in O Magazine (but I'm not sure), that there are two types of mentalities--an Abundance Mentality and a Scarcity Mentality. People with an Abundance Mentality trust that they will have enough or be able to easily obtain the things that they need when they need them. Those with a mentality of Scarcity feel like there's never enough. They don't have enough. They've never had enough. And they probably won't have enough in the future. And not only do they feel lacking, they also feel that there is a limited supply of everything, and what one person has diminishes what another can hope to have, so of course they need to make sure to grasp for things and hoard their "fair share."

I guess you can see how these two mentalities would play out in regards to clutter. The Abundance person would stock reasonable amounts of food, have reasonable amounts of clothes, a reasonable number of things, and be less stressed overall. The Scarcity person would have more than they could ever eat, wear, or use; cabinets, closets, and storage units stuffed to overflowing; and constant stress.

OK. So I don't stockpile cool whip bowls or twist ties or bread wrappers, and I don't have 52 cans of green beans in my pantry. I don't rent a storage unit, and my closets and drawers do close. But in some areas, I do have a little more than I need. And although I can easily let go of some extra things, I have trouble with others. I think I have a Mixed Mentality--in some areas I trust that there'll be abundance; in others I feel like it's every woman for her self. Thinking about this makes me feel a little ashamed and confused. All my life I've been well taken care of; I've been blessed. I don't want to be a person who holds onto things I don't need when they could be of use to others. I want my hands to be open, not clenched or grasping.

One of the things I've been doing has helped me with this, I think. It's my one-thing-a-day decluttering. I have a box or bag in my closet, and one item a day goes in it until it's full. Then it goes to charity. Some items are easy to drop in. Others are much harder. There's this internal monologue: I just know I'll wear this one day. I may need it. I paid a lot of money for it. But it was a gift from _______. Yada yada yada.

The reason the one-thing-a-day plan is working for me is that it doesn't require me to get rid of half my wardrobe in one fell swoop. I only have to decide on one item a day. It can even be the pair of shoes that always rubs a blister. Or the purse I never carry. And, too, I'm not giving the item away today. I'm just dropping it into a box. Where it will remain. For several days. I can take it out if I decide I can't live without it. And guess what? I haven't yet taken anything out of the box, and putting things in is getting a lot easier.

And it feels really good.


Ash said...

You've inspired me to do the same...my closet is horrendous and full of stuff I don't wear, but can't seem to part with. I think I inherited some of that from my Grandma and Depression-era prepardness...very organized and clean, but never threw anything away.

Once she proudly gave me a jar of twist-ties, because "they come in so handy." And I still have them.

Stephanie said...

Yeah, I think, for the most part, the problem is not that I'm a hoarder but that I've been raised with that Waste Not, Want Not, Clean Your Plate mentality. Somehow it seems WRONG to get rid of things.