30 Day Challenge – Ignoring the “What if” Bully

Originally Posted on September 21, 2012 by BJ Howell.

Last week I started a personal 30 day challenge to give away 30 items in 30 days while keeping my emotions regulated.  It’s sort of a challenge to help me live a more minimalist existence, as well as, a self exploration task.  I know most people are familiar with the reality series, “Hoarding” on A&E.  Thanks to the show, we have seen how devastating hoarding can be.  It can ruin relationships, collapse financial stability, destroy living environments, etc. But while hoarding is outwardly destructive, it can be argued that the most damage is within the individual.  It can provide a way to hide feelings, delay mourning, keep people at a distance, cover up other emotional issues and ultimately prevent someone from living life to the fullest.

While I am by no means a hoarder, I do like to joke that I am 5 steps away or that I have an inner hoarder waiting to come out.  Simply stated…I like things.  And I like to be surrounded by my things.  I can remember as a teenager sleeping with a radio and books in my bed.  It was always comforting.  While, I have retired the radio, I do still find myself surrounded with stuff and I am never in bed without at least two books (whether I’m reading them or not) and my trusty Smartphone.  I no longer watch the news (I was, in the past, an addict of CNN and MSNBC and NBC Local News), but if I turn over in the night, I have a bad habit of grabbing my phone to see if the little red light is flashing, or checking the news to see if anything interesting happened since I went to sleep.  So, sadly, I must group my cell phone with other things I refer to as “stuff” because (at times) it does not serve me well.  Another example is my closet.  Over this past year I gave away several bags (garbage size bags) of clothes and my closet is still full.  I almost hate to say that about a quarter of what I gave away still had tags on it. To me that is just wasteful living.

The older I get the more I feel like I am suffering from information overload and as much as I like my stuff, I’m starting to feel crowded.  It may be a result of old(er) age, or the fact that I live a very busy life, but I have a feeling that it is simply that I have accumulated too much stuff.  Things that I have purchased, things that have been given to me, things that I have inherited… It all equates to too much. I know it’s time to change because I have such an attachment to my stuff.  In giving anything away I am pulled in several directions because all of it has (or had) a space in my life and the “what ifs” starts ganging up on me.  When it comes to my belongings that one what if , “what if I need it in the future?”, seems to always stop me dead in my tracks…

I am starting to discover that “what ifs” are bullies in disguise.  They cause doubt, fear and unnecessary confusion.  So, for this challenge, I am ignoring the “what if” bully.  Hopefully I can learn something about myself in the process, but if not, then I will at least be a blessing to someone else and I’ll be one step closer to my ultimate goal of minimalist living.

So, if by chance our paths should cross during this challenge and I ask you if you would like a souvenir shot glass from when I visited Canada’s Capilano Suspension Bridge (where I willed myself, against fear, to walk across it) please let your answer be a simple, yes…or no.  Please do not tell me where it will look nice in my home, or what a great feat and how I should keep it as a memento.  Just a simple yes…or no.

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