Off The Wagon — Lesson Learned

After some reading and reflection, I adopted the minimalist lifestyle. I did well for about three weeks. Then, I had a small relapse. I bought books at a going-out-of-business sale at a bookstore. But I got back on track.

This past week, I had a major relapse. As a minimalist, I failed completely. I bought clothes and shoes. To be exact, I purchased four tank-tops, two sundresses, two pairs of sandals and one sunhat. I have a trip coming up soon, and all of these purchases will prove useful. AND I got some great deals. But was it worth it?

Is it worth the anxiety I feel over whether or not I should have spent the money? Is it worth the great effort to find a place to store my new items? Is it worth the physical space that these items will occupy? Is it worth the aesthetic effects of still more clutter in my life? Most importantly, is it worth the shame that I feel as a failed minimalist that fell off the wagon and purchased something?  Or somethings, in my case.

I realize that after thirty four years of consumerism, I can’t just jump into minimalism and expect to never relapse. It just hurts when it happens.

So now that the purchases have been made, I’ve learned a valuable lesson as a beginning minimalist. If you are a beginner, take heart. You may be able to learn from my relapse, and perhaps avoid a relapse of your own.

  • Consider carefully before purchasing. It is so easy to get caught up in great deals and bargain hunting that we fail to consider the true ramifications of making that purchase. Sometimes the best place for that box set of classical music is right there in the store.
  • Keep in mind that it’s not “just another thing.” There are many emotions that will be tied to that thing. Anxiety is tied to the purchases I made today. If I do not use these items to the fullest, then guilt will be associated as well. We purchase things. Things evoke emotions.
  • There is forgiveness. Falling off the wagon isn’t the end of the world. We can always try again tomorrow. The key is not to get into a cycle of self-loathing, which can lead to yet more purchases. Forgiveness is hard. Self-forgiveness is harder. But is must be done to give ourselves the freedom to try again.
  • Remember the victories. Don’t let the shame of one failure overshadow the many victories. There have been times when I resisted temptation. I resisted the urge to splurge, and I felt so good. I cannot allow this one failure to negate the victories that I have experienced.

The messages of more experienced minimalists ring true. I see the wisdom in their words. Things really do affect you mentally, spiritually, financially, and emotionally. There is freedom in having less. I gave up a little bit of that freedom today, but I learned a valuable lesson.

Tomorrow is another day. I will embark upon it as a minimalist. Only I will be a little wiser.


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