How To Minimise the Past And Maximise the Future

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If I told you minimalism and self-growth is straight-forward and easy, I would be lying. 

Minimalism requires lots of hard decision-making, consistency, and dealing with memories both good and bad. 

Self-growth requires confronting and accepting hard truths about ourselves and our situations and learning to move forwards while becoming better people in the process. 

Because that’s what it all is. A process. A journey. And a bumpy one at that with twists, turns and long stretches of smoothness.  

I used to be what I call a tidy hoarder (although I didn’t realise I was a hoarder at the time). Candles, mugs, trinkets and figurines lined shelves and window sills while cupboards and drawers were bursting at the seams and collapsing under the weight. Boxes hid under my bed collecting dust and the top of my wardrobe towered with boxes, storage containers, and soft toys. 

My hoarding habits were a source of frequent arguments and discussions about my ‘trash’ in the home.

I kept all sorts. Masses of keyrings collected over the years, old party invitations, old school work, old defunct cables, those little badges you can get with rebellious statements on, old jewellery, old stationary, little notebooks and relics I’d got from cereal boxes as a kid (including a Rugrats flip book). 

I’d even kept a ring from when I was seven years old, simply because I’d worn it at primary school.

As a person I was angry, unfulfilled, lost, and confused, with severe identity issues which caused massive problems in my relationships. Until I discovered minimalism, I didn’t realise that the state of my stuff reflected the state of my mind, and my past. 

Just like with my drawers and cupboards, I kept parts of myself hidden away in dark dusty corners of my psyche, and every so often, bits would burst out and everyone around me would be left picking up the mess, only for it to end up back in the box it all burst from. 

I’d grown up with such a turbulent school life among other things, that by the time I got to college and made the life-long friends I have now, I’d become a master of wearing a mask of silliness and extreme cheer. I was so skilled at this it became a genuine part of who I am today. 

The first time I got confronted with my hoard was a wakeup call for me. I was renting a house with the man who is now my husband, when mum brought over all my old stuff from their attic. Bags and bags of stuff. Bin liners stretching with the weight of the memories inside them I’d carelessly stowed away. 

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At first, I just saw it as a monumental physical task I needed to work through. I couldn’t escape it because there was nowhere else for it to go. The attic was already rammed with game consoles, Christmas decorations, old memories, and other paraphernalia I’d just shoved up there when we moved in. 

But as I emptied the bags and started to work my way through them, I felt all kinds of emotions, even over innocent things like soft toys.

Sadness, grief, nostalgia, warmth… such a mixed bag of feelings all attached to these objects, many of which I’d owned since I was a child. There were several piles of old school work, even my old school planner, complete with sad, angry scribbles. 

To the people around me, that was all junk. Why hadn’t I put it in the bin ages ago? Why was I storing all that garbage? But to me, they were feelings and parts of me.

That school planner represented the part of me that expressed my feelings when nobody else would listen; proof that I experienced those feelings.

My school work was a trove of teacher praise, writing, and essays which I’d poured my soul into. I’d even kept hilarious pieces where it was clear I hadn’t understood the task or concept. 

I found gifts from people who’d long since left my life, and a tower of children’s books I used to treasure.

By the end of the day, I charity-shopped about 90% of the bag’s contents, and I felt so light that I could have floated a metre above the ground. It was as if those bags had never been stowed in the attic but been tied to me the whole time. 

I also felt emotionally drained. 

That was my first step into self-growth and into what would later reveal itself to be the path to minimalism, but it took a long time for the universe to make me and the concept cross paths. 

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Since discovering minimalism, I’ve not only unearthed many parts of myself that I didn’t realise existed, I’ve discovered and reignited my dreams, and have worked persistently to accept the past and make way for who I’m becoming.

Clearing the clutter in my life was the same as clearing out the drawers of my heart and the closets of my mind. It took a lot of soul searching, confronting parts of myself and re-discovering where I wanted to go.

I had spent a lifetime living in the past, believing that I was worthless, and that the feelings I had were nothing but a lie if I got rid of the stuff I associated with them.

Without going into too much detail, this is because I grew up unable to express my feelings. It was taboo. It was wrong. It was weird. So I ended up attaching them to tangible objects. 

When my heart got too heavy and full, it got emptied into cupboards and boxes, instead. 

Of course, minimalism isn’t a cure-all and I’ve had to do a great deal of self-growth. Self-growth is something which never stops and should never plateau because people are forever experiencing life and taking on new beliefs and values. 

For me, minimalism is the foundation to grow a new successful self. One not weighed down by stuff, the past, and outdated subconscious beliefs. 

It’s my hope to help you on your journey, too, whatever your values or your past may be. It’s deep, hard work, but you can get there.  

Remember, just as you don’t grow from toddler to adult in a day, you won’t change and grow your core values and beliefs overnight, either. 

Since we’re entering the festive season, let’s consider Scrooge from ‘A Christmas Carol’. He changes from a lifetime of being cruel, miserable, greedy and selfish, to jolly, charitable, fun, and caring. All in one night. 

While the story is great and has a powerful message, in reality, Scrooge would have taken years to change because his persona would result from various factors throughout his life; beliefs instilled into him by his parents, the people around him, his circumstances, and his environment. 

Every single person has their own story, background, and beliefs. You can’t change a lifetime of beliefs and behaviours overnight, no matter how much you want to. And while throwing them out with the trash is freeing, you still need to do the emotional work to prevent returning to old habits and circumstances. 

With consistent action, you can and will get to where you want to be!

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Off the Beaten Path

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This week, I’m talking about daring to be different and letting go of the fear that stops so many of us from reaching our potential. I will refer to video games again because they’ve taught me some valuable lessons, so if you’re not a gamer, bear with me – what I’ve learned could help you, too. 

I’ve been playing Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild; a massive game about exploration. It’s been in my backlog for years, mainly because I couldn’t stand that you can go wherever you want in any order, and there’s no real structure on how you do things. Just as there are so many ways to progress, there’s so many ways to fail. 

I feared playing it. What if I go wrong? What if I fail? What if I get stuck? How will I know what to do next? Will I have wasted my time? 

It’s a hugely limiting mindset that’s not just stopped me from experiencing  award-winning video games, but living life to the fullest.

Anyway, I decided to give the game another try, and overcome this way of thinking. 

Surprisingly, I’ve found myself addicted (not unhealthily) and actively exploring the environment, even when the main quest is blinking on the humongous map. There’s always something to see, and always a reward or two for exploring an area.

There were times I’ve felt overwhelmed, but I kept playing anyway, determined to see all it has to offer. And I made tonnes of progress. That gave me the confidence to try another exploration type game called Hollow Knight. It’s popular with gamers, but I’ve shied away from it in the past because of the game not holding your hand and telling you where to go next. 

“Let go of that mindset and just explore,” my husband said when I started. And I did. I went against everything inside me that was screaming with the anxiety of not being guided down a specific path, and before I knew it, I was immersed and finding something new with every direction I went. 

Yes, I got my ass handed to me several times, but it was such an enjoyable experience that I found myself trying again and again until I beat certain enemies. 

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I stopped worrying about whether I was going in the right direction and started wondering what I would find in the next area. I was enjoying myself without being directed. 

What’s your enemy in life? Fear? Procrastination? Being a master of weaving excuse stories rather than the story you want to tell? Go ahead and beat it! There’s joy and excitement on the other side. 

In real life, I’ve always struggled and become very anxious when there’s no clear path or no guidance saying “do this/go here next.” Playing video games that took me out of that comfort zone has been a big stepping stone for me. 

Overcoming that anxiety and learning to guide myself is vital because I’m on the path to becoming a counsellor and want to own my own practice in the future. I want to feel more relaxed and confident in situations where nothing is certain. 

Because life isn’t certain. 

I’m not saying that you should play video games if you want to change your mindset, I’m saying that taking action and facing your fears has more power than you could imagine. 

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Since playing those games and fighting through that mindset,  I’ve also had a revelation about my writing. A lot of the writers block I get is down to feeling creatively blocked because with writing there are no rules per se. 

Just like with Hollow Knight, and Breath of the Wild, it’s about exploring and finding what works. It’s about letting go of fear of the unknown and turning it into excitement and curiosity. It’s about exploring off the beaten path. Trying something different. 

As Albert Einstein once said “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” 

It’s like boarding a plane to America, even though you’re trying to get to Japan.

Straying from the beaten path is crucial if you want to escape mediocrity and discover your true potential, yet so many of us stay stuck in jobs we hate, in toxic relationships, and with habits that no longer serve us. 

Most of society would have you believe that life is all about survival. Keeping your head down and not taking any risks. After all, staying on the well-worn path is ‘safe’. It’s far less scary than going off to explore that sparkling river of opportunity in the distance. 

It’s also the path to forgotten and lost dreams. Staying on that path can lead to you forgetting who you are, what you have to offer to the world, and what you truly find fulfillment in. By staying on the linear, worn path, you don’t get to see the sparkling river, the lush forest, or find the hidden treasure. 

So, don’t hesitate. Let go of your fear. Be adventurous. Leave the beaten path and follow the river instead. Who knows where it could take you? 

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I Changed My Mindset and Started Living – So Can You!

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This week, I finally completed a videogame I’ve had for years called Alien Isolation. For years I would make a certain amount of progress, only to get stuck, scared out of my wits, and quit.

It’s only in the past few months I plucked up the courage to restart it after a friend said, “don’t let your fears rule you”. I realise how cheesy that sounds, but that’s exactly what I was doing. I was acting the same way I used to in real life.

In the end, I pushed through that fear, and my failures when the alien killed me again and again. And in doing so, I finally reached the end credits. I was successful.

But most people don’t keep on pushing through when they fail. Like I once did with Alien Isolation, they give up at the first few hurdles. So many people stay stagnant.

They won’t go for that career opportunity, or start a new business, or ask that guy/girl out, or attempt to learn a new skill, or travel somewhere new, or stand up for their beliefs.

Life is tedious but safe. Unfulfilling yet secure.

At work I stayed in the same old position for ten years, despite many opportunities for growth. Why? Because I was too terrified of failure to try anything else. My life was on autopilot. Go to work, get paid, buy new shiny stuff to feel more alive, dream of winning the lottery, dream of writing, rinse and repeat.

Because of turbulence in my life as a young adult, I felt that I should be grateful for even having a job. My mother often drilled the last part into me.

The message was clear: Stay where you are. Don’t try anything else. Don’t push your luck. Don’t even think about it.

And I didn’t. I fought the symptoms of undiagnosed chronic illness, and when I finally got diagnosed, I thought, This is it. My cards have been dealt. Now I need to fight to keep going, to keep my job. It was the first job which I genuinely loved (and still do).

Supporting students was highly rewarding, and I grew over the years. I became a better TA, better able to build relationships, gained more empathy than ever before, and a wider view of the world.

But there came a point where I started longing for more. Dreaming about creating content that would help and inspire adults. Fantasising about becoming an author. About helping people with their life problems. And I stayed like that for many more years.

Just dreaming and wishing.

Whenever I saw somebody else become successful, it was like looking through a telescope from across a vast, raging ocean. Success was something that only happened to gifted people. Whenever students left the school with their grades and a blank slate, I longed to go back to the past.

If only I had chosen the right courses (journalism or creative writing). If only I hadn’t been so scared to pursue what I really wanted. If only I didn’t have a chronic illness.

All of that was faulty thinking based on limiting beliefs I had at the time: That I was now too old to chase my dream. That I was a crap writer and had nothing worthwhile to say. That I was dumb and didn’t deserve better.

The truth is, if I had made different choices, and if I was free of illness, I wouldn’t have learned the things I have. I wouldn’t have met my husband, and most likely, would be a completely different person. I wouldn’t be writing my first book which is all about coping with chronic illness, and I probably wouldn’t have discovered minimalism and grown as a person, so I wouldn’t be writing this blog.

It doesn’t matter what stage you’re at in life, or how old you are, you choose how you play the cards you have been dealt in life. You choose if to keep playing or surrender your hand.

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It’s only over the past year I’ve wrestled back control of the steering wheel and have a clear aim. Minimalism helped clear my vision. And once I had a clear view of what I wanted and how I was going to get there, I just went for it.

I made this blog and carried on writing even when the writing gremlin told me I was crap. I applied for a BACP counselling course, even though the sneering voice of self-doubt piped up, Pfft. You? You’ve spent years on the wrong path. What makes you think you can help others to find theirs?

I could have listened to that voice and not applied for the course. But I remembered that it was because I had gone down the ‘wrong’ path that I came to the revelation I did.

It’s the people I met along the way. The lessons I’ve learned by teaching others, and by overcoming challenges in my relationships. Relentless studying and reading every book on success and communication I could get my hands on.

Slowly but surely, as I kept reading, applying what I learned, and clearing more clutter from my home, my old limiting beliefs fell away.

I had proved that I could become minimalist, even though I was a hoarder for most of my life. Why couldn’t I work for myself when there are people who have overcome massive adversity and still achieved their dream?

Reading about some of these people, I realised there was always a common thread. They all had a clear vision of what they wanted. And they all worked their asses off to get there. They all kept pulling themselves out of the quicksand. They stopped drowning and kept kicking their legs until they started swimming.

It turns out that some of the world’s most successful people had also been told they would get nowhere in life. Often by teachers, other authority figures, and by the attitudes of the people they were surrounded by at the time.

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s parents noticed his affinity to physical labour and suggested that he could become a furniture maker, or a mechanic. But what he wanted was to become a famous body-builder. His friends at school thought he was weird for his strong desire to go to America, because he talked about it all the time.

Do you think any of that stopped him?

Can you imagine if Arnold had played it safe, instead? If he had only done what others expected him to do?

One of my favourite authors, Bryan Hutchinson, struggled throughout his education, and was told he would never be a writer. He was even humiliated in front of a whole class once by a tutor who didn’t believe in his abilities. Eventually, he pushed through his limiting self-beliefs and the remarks from his past. Now he owns a successful blog and has published several books.

Once you start believing, and you put in the hard work, the life you envisioned materialises bit by bit, like the sun after a heavy storm.

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I decided I was never again going to let myself be told that my dreams were ‘unrealistic’, or that I was being ‘ungrateful’. Of course, I’m grateful. Gratitude is important. The problem was, I took being grateful as meaning to always stick with what you have.

I never took risks because ‘realistically’ I could fail and look like a fool. I could see people saying “told you so,” with a satisfied smirk. I could see readers making fun of my writing. But being realistic and safe was making me miserable and unfulfilled.

Not too long ago, I put all talented people, or people in a higher position than me, on a pedestal. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I was so fascinated by these people that I saw them like a celebrity. In my eyes, I saw a mystical human before me and felt privileged just to be around them.

You can imagine how I saw myself.

I didn’t see the seeds they had planted in the past. All the years of grafting and climbing the ladder, while feeling just as insecure as most other people.

After chatting with these people for a while, I started to notice how different their attitude was. They didn’t complain or hang around in cliques. But they avoided negative people and meaningless tasks as sure as a cat avoids showers.

I was one of those negative people, and I didn’t even realise it. So it was no wonder these more successful people didn’t talk to me for too long.

You attract who you are.

You’ll notice that gossipers tend to hang around and attract other gossips, that toxic people are never far apart. But the successful ones are well out of the way, hanging with positive people and doing whatever it takes to live the life they want.

These people still treat everyone with respect, even if they’d rather be elsewhere in that moment. They understand the importance of positive relationships, and that what they say reflects who they are or who they are becoming.

I’m not talking about people who are in a successful position, but who then abuse that power to make others feel small. You could argue that they’re not successful because their power plays come from a place of deep insecurity and fear. They haven’t mastered their fears and perceived shortcomings, so project them onto others.

Truly successful people are living the life that they want to live, never stop growing, are humble, and treat everyone with respect. They aren’t perfect, because nobody is perfect. But they know that the best way to live a sub-par life is to bring others down, brag about their life, and stop learning once they’ve reached a certain point.

Notice how I never said that successful people are all walking around with high-paying jobs and a briefcase? That’s because it’s nothing but a stereotype. An idea sold to you via the media, through marketing, and by the rest of society.

Success isn’t about having a certain job and wearing a custom-fit suit. It isn’t the amount of stuff you own, or the amount of money you have in the bank. It isn’t the amount of friends you have or the sexual conquests you’ve had.

In fact, there are some obscenely rich and popular people out there who are drowning in misery and can’t quite figure out why.

Success is living the lifestyle you want to live, with the job you want, with quality friends, and continuing to grow as a person.

If happiness, to you, is working a 9-5 while voluntarily working at homeless shelters, and that’s what you do with your life, you’ve been successful.

If it’s about having a happy marriage, and you have many joyful married years behind you, you’ve been successful.

If you’re a stay-at-home parent who values raising children, and you have happy kids, you’ve been successful.

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Be careful not to mix happiness up with mediocrity- that is staying safe and settling for less than your potential.

It’s important to know that there are many areas of success which add up to a whole: job, marital, friendship, financial, parental, spiritual…

And you can be successful in as many areas as you want. Not perfect. Successful.

Owning a big house just because you can is meaningless. Owning the latest gadgets wears off fast. Wearing a suit to work every day and earning hundreds of thousands a year is meaningless if you’ve got no plan but to chase more.

People who tie happiness to possessions, or success to a suit and briefcase are destined to become mere shells of themselves.

Some people get caught in the trap of waiting to become a certain way before they go after what they want. But they forget one important thing: It’s our experiences that help shape who we are and how we think.

Without failing, you can’t grow. You can’t know what you need to do to improve, to move further along.

Yes, hone a positive growth mindset. But don’t wait for perfect. Because perfect never comes, and success never comes to those who sit and wait.

Always remember your values. Don’t stray from them. And value yourself highly.

You are worth it!

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How To Simplify And Boost Your Day Before 6AM

Brace yourself for this post because I am about to talk about something which sounds scary, but which could dramatically improve and simplify your life.

Waking up at 5AM (or earlier depending on your job/career status).

If you’re anything like me, and just the thought of removing your blankets makes you want to run a mile, I implore you to stay with me here, because what I’m about to tell you could further enhance your minimalist lifestyle and transform your mindset.

This time last year, I started waking up at 5AM after reading Hal Elrod’s book, The Miracle Morning.  

I was fascinated, although slightly sceptical of what waking up at 5AM could possibly do for someone with chronic illness, but I gave it a go. The trouble was, despite the massive improvements to my life, I only managed to keep it up for a couple of months before the winter months dampened my resolve. 

But the benefits of rising with the sun were so great, that I’m going to reintroduce 5AM back into my life. And I’m going to share with you, exactly why early mornings can be your greatest ally to a better you. 

The reason I tried it in the first place was because I was fed up with the stress of rushing around in the mornings trying to get myself ready for work and my son ready for school.

I loved to write but by the time the evening rolled around, I was too burnt out to hammer a single sentence out on the keyboard and would inevitably get drawn into mindless activities instead. 

Perhaps you can relate?

Things like scrolling down my Facebook newsfeed (which you know turns into an endless time sap), playing videogames, or watching Youtube took over my free time in the evenings. Anything but doing what I really wanted to be doing. 

I’d feel guilty, then the cycle repeated itself. And after rolling out of bed on the weekends, I would go on entertainment binges which was detrimental to my productivity as a writer. 

It was time to make a change.

Photo by Ian Stauffer on Unsplash

Now, waking up at 5AM, (or earlier) isn’t easy if you’re used to hibernating, and you’ll probably have to ease yourself into it by gradually reducing the time you spend in bed. 

I was mad enough to roll out of bed the instant my alarm went off so that I didn’t have time to register how bleary-eyed and zombified I was. I even did what Hal suggested in The Miracle Morning, and found myself an accountability partner. 

As soon as I woke up, I would message my accountability partner, and sometimes she would message back with a picture of a beautiful sunrise from her abode. Living in the UK, I saw more overcast skies than pastel sunrises, but just the feeling of that part of the morning being mine for the taking was enough to motivate me. 

Here’s the benefits I experienced from becoming an early riser:

  • My mornings were quiet and peaceful. I found that I was able to think calmly, and had a burst of ideas for my writing.
  • I could do what I wanted; read a book, write, meditate, or a combination of all. The extra time was all mine. 
  • Because my mind was starting off uncluttered and without the noise of a busy work day, I had far more ideas for my writing than in the evening. This meant I got far more writing done. In fact, I churned out most of the first draft for the book I’m working on.
  • I had the time to journal or write a stream of conscious(getting all of my thoughts down on paper) which made me understand myself on a much deeper level. It also ensured I was starting the day with a positive mindset. 
  • Before it was fully winter, I got to see a couple of glorious sunrises (as many as I was going to see living in the UK).
  • It changed my mindset on what was possible because I achieved so much while everyone else was still in dreamland.
  • I was more organised because I had so much more time on my hands.
  • By the time my husband went to work and took my son with him to school, I was often already dressed, so I formed a new habit of leaving home early and going to my local cafe to write once a week. Not only did that cement a writing habit, but I got to see my town in a tranquil state of awakening, which was surreal. 
  • I was happier throughout the day knowing that I had already got my most important things done.  Therefore, my days ran smoother and were much simpler. 
Photo by J. Kelly Brito on Unsplash

By this point, you’re probably thinking ‘but what about the downsides?’  And I’m not going to lie to you, here. There were downsides to rising so early.

I couldn’t stay up as late which meant that when my toddler son was in bed, I had little downtime before I felt ready to crawl into bed myself. You can’t be a morning person on too little sleep; at least not without risking physical and mental health

That’s it. That was the only downside I discovered.

Admittedly, living in the UK makes 5AM wake-ups much more challenging in the winter months because mornings are cold and dark, the days are short and the days are often overcast. 

That’s enough to make anyone want to hibernate in the beckoning warmth and comfort of bed, and unsurprisingly, people’s vitamin D levels drop to an all time low. 

But as soon as I let the winter beat me and stopped doing the Miracle Mornings,  I noticed that I was back to old habits of procrastination, achieved far less (my book is still in first draft) and am less fulfilled. 

To give you the best chance of success at becoming an early riser, here are a few tips:

Get plenty of sleep. At least 8 hours. It’s more important than you think.

Use a clock which has a gradually increasing light

Use an app like Alarmy which doesn’t let you turn off the alarm until you solve a problem

Have a shower

Have a soothing ritual you look forward to. Mine was a hot cup of tea and free writing.

Life’s too short to be unfulfilled and stressed. 5AM rises will make you feel like you have far more hours in your day, either to de-stress or to start working towards the life you envision. 

Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash

Why not give your days a boost and start tomorrow? Let me know how it goes in the comments, and watch out for next week’s post on detoxing from social media.



The Shattered Perception of Stuff

For a finite length of time, the road to simplicity can feel exhausting because it involves so much soul searching and decision making. Not only that, but like with doing anything that’s outside the ‘norm’, you will probably encounter ridicule from others before they understand the benefits of what you’re doing. The best way to make somebody else understand minimalism and simplicity is by living the lifestyle and sticking to your values. Don’t be afraid to stand out and keep growing! When people see how much happier and more relaxed you are, they might even become a little curious themselves – just remember you can’t force them.


Photo owned by the author of Minimalistmojo

In the meantime, I’ve endured jokes that I’ll have sold off my whole house if I carry on, and even confusion from worried family members who can’t understand why I’m taking bags of my things to the charity shop every week. The truth is, going from hoarder to minimalist is a long, drawn out process which takes a lot of energy and mental strength, but the outcome is incredible and well worth it.

There are many times I thought I was done, but in fact, ended up finding more stuff I could live without. That’s a common side-effect of minimising: once you start removing things from your home, you find more and more as you slowly discover what it is that’s important to you. I like to think of it as uncovering a fossil: the more you chip away, the more reveals itself until you have a clear observation.

Last year, I had a wake up call when my four year old son smashed an expensive vase I had bought to beautify my living room. Of course, I was upset and screamed at him, and he became extremely upset. But when I took the time to look up from the shattered pieces, at his face, wet with tears, I realised something important: I could replace my vase but not my beautiful son who was growing up so fast. In that moment, I had placed far too much value on a store-bought object and caused needless anxiety in both of us. You could say the event shattered my perception on the stuff I was placing so much value on. That point was made even clearer recently, when just before Mother’s Day, he brought home this lovely plant pot he had decorated for me at school, complete with vibrant pink pansies. He was so proud and it was so much more special to me than any object from a store, no matter how expensive. The flowerpot was made and presented to me with such pure feelings that even if it got broken, I know that love is still there, and in the end, that’s more important than anything I own.


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Minimalism: The Path to Self Discovery, and How It Helped Me To Find My Worth

I know that I said my next post was going to be about bedrooms (it is), but this morning I’ve been thinking about the other ways minimalism has helped me, which doesn’t just involve the physical stuff in my life. It is of utmost importance to share this because so many people think of minimalism as just being an extreme form of decluttering, when it is about so much more than that. What follows is a deeply personal post which I feel could help those of you who have struggled all your lives with your possessions, with the people in your lives, and/or with yourselves.

I was bullied all through school from the day I started to the day I left, had terribly destructive relationships with some of the most important people in my life, and grew up with horrendous self-esteem. This manifested itself in a myriad of ways, including: over-the-top anger, being quick to defend myself in innocent conversations, allowing others to verbally abuse me (and feeling I deserved it), not having a true sense of identity or purpose (which caused a lot of issues in intimate adult relationships), inadvertently hurting others, and clinging onto people much like I did the stuff I continued to surround myself with.

By the time I went to college, a few years after leaving school, I had made a handful of real friends, entered a relationship, and perfected a mask of being happy-go-lucky, which eventually became a genuine part of myself. I’ve always loved helping others and it didn’t matter how others treated me, so long as they were there in my life. Just like I thought that owning more cool stuff would make me happy, I thought that the more people I had in my life, the more worthy a person I was.

As I went through life, I struggled to hold down jobs due to long-term health issues, fought with my identity, and exhibited inappropriate and negative behaviours which caused friction with the people I loved. Eventually, I got diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum ,which gave me answers as to why I struggled so much at school, as well as having chronic illnesses Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Fibromyalgia. Many years later, I learnt to manage all of those things, but I still had major issues with accumulating and hoarding possessions, with the people in my life, and with who I was as a person. Even after landing a stable job and having a beautiful son with my lovely fiance, I was a mess. I wanted to be the best parent I could possibly be, as well as being a reliable partner, friend, and co-worker. I wanted to inspire my son, and others. I didn’t like who I was, but I couldn’t see the light illuminating my path , for all my possessions were hiding it.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash.com

There were several factors which propelled me towards discovering minimalism; the fateful day where my mum brought all the anchors from my past down from her attic and over to my house, and the deaths of some people I knew. I haven’t spoken about those deaths but I started to think about how people were remembering them and I wondered if they had any regrets in the ways they lived their lives. If they could go back in time, would they do things any differently? Would they have followed their true passions in life? My passion has always been writing, my ultimate dream to be an author of several books, yet everything I had written was hidden away in the attic and on Google Docs. I was too under confident to share my writing, even though I so desperately wanted to help and entertain others.

Thinking deeply about my own life, and about how I wanted zero regrets, I started on a journey of rapid self-growth, reading every self-help book I could get my hands on and completing all the exercises, consistently applying the concepts to my life the best I could. I read books about how to be confident,how to talk to other people, how to heal from the past, how to achieve my goals, how to recover from toxic relationships, how to heal my inner child, how to discover my purpose in life, and how to handle my emotions in a more positive manner. While all of the books I read certainly helped me to a degree, nothing helped me grow as a person half as much as when I discovered and started practicing minimalism. I devoured every book and website I could on the subject, as well as discovering for myself, the amazing long-term benefits of the lifestyle.

As I dramatically reduced my possessions and started to think deeply about what was important to me and why, my true self started to emerge. My true values, my true beliefs, the false beliefs that had been keeping me chained. Once I was satisfied with my new environment, I began true self-growth which was far more rapid than before. I looked at everything from my job, to my writing passion, to my beliefs, to the people in my life, and I started to intensely evaluate those things just like with my physical stuff. Instead of trying to change the people around me, or hoping they would change, I started to change myself. Because, ultimately, the person I was least happy with was myself. I was giving off a negative self-image, and I certainly wasn’t inspiring to others. By being so ashamed of myself, I was allowing others to treat me how I was feeling, so the solution was to start treating myself with and believing myself to be worthy of love and respect, just like everyone else on this planet.

As my confidence and self-esteem grew, I worked on some of my closer relationships, and cut off some which were bringing me down. Cutting off the toxic ones was even more freeing than decluttering my belongings, because suddenly there was more room, and far more time and energy for the relationships that mattered. I was also able to look at the toxic relationships for what they were, and why I was clinging onto them in the first place. The most amazing thing? I felt no guilt for doing so. Because cultivating my self-respect and self-worth, and putting more energy into the positive relationships is far more rewarding. I’ve since, also taken my writing far more seriously and began working towards achieving my dream of being an author and inspiring others.

Without minimalism, I never would have been able to do that.

A good while ago, I took a photo of this sunny path in a park. Now it is perfectly apt for how much clearer and lighter my journey has become.

I still have a ways to go, for true self-growth is continuous, never stopping, even for a moment. Just like the image above, life continues to be blotched with the shadows of challenging times, but I am far more equipped to take those challenges head on, and learn from them. As I continue on the minimalist path, I hope to continue growing and helping others to do the same.