When we think of downsizing or moving, one of the first images that usually come to mind is boxes, cardboard boxes, in many shapes and sizes. They are a huge part of any move. These boxes are great to put things in, but there is one box you need to break out of – your mind box.

What is a mind box? It is the boundaries and restrictions we apply in thinking about the things around us.  In this case, it refers to the patterns of how we relate to our possessions. We find ourselves thinking that certain things have to be stored in specific pieces of furniture, that a particular item was needed in the past so we will always need to have it, or that the lovely gift we received years ago is still our responsibility to keep. These are just a few of the walls that “box” in our thinking.

We need to think outside that box when downsizing or moving. We need to think about our possessions and the narratives that come with them from a different perspective.

  • Be creative:  Look at each piece of furniture or possession with new eyes. If you want to keep a favorite piece of furniture, consider other purposes it might serve. You can change up the way the antique dresser from the kids’ bedroom is used by placing it in the dining area as a buffet and using it to store linens or office supplies. What other pieces can you be creative with?
  • Reassess your needs:  Ask yourself if you really need the things you own. We own many tools and supplies that are for a singular purpose but that can be replaced by a multi-purpose tool. For example, you may have used a wok for many years but recently you only use it once a month. It is nice to have, but when space is at a premium, consider using your frying pan for stir-frying. Is there another way to accomplish the same tasks you are doing that would use fewer items or take up less space?
  • Let go of guilt:  Give yourself permission to say goodbye to things. Remember your items came into your life to be used and appreciated. The gift from your Aunt Sue was kindhearted and you appreciated her thoughtfulness, but now may be the time to let it go. The expensive tablecloth you bought for your larger table was used and served its purpose.  No matter how much you paid for it, it’s time to let it go.  Are you holding on to something because you feel obligated to yourself or someone else?

Before you start packing, step outside your mind box and take time to consider what should go in those good ole cardboard ones.

© Beth Giles