How to unplug from and minimize your possessions

For a family of four, we don’t own much. We like to keep it that way so we can spend more money and time on moments and memories rather than up-keeping possessions.

BUT, it’s amazing how quickly the stuff piles up when you remain motionless for some time. Do you agree? I swear the stuff grows out of the walls.

hole in a brick wall

Packing up our small two bedroom apartment to move back on the road after living in Burleigh for 18 months was excruciatingly painful – and we didn’t even own any of the furniture.

I discovered some interesting thought processes and feelings I went through to manage this gigantic cleansing and change. It’s not easy to move from a place of stability, security and ownership to a free-floating life where your possessions are minimal.

There will be so much going through your head as you declutter and detangle yourself from the stories of who you thought you were.

Be gentle with yourself and allow yourself to move through the cleansing process of unplugging. There’s a new and better life waiting for you on the other side as you gain clarity into who you are and what is important to you.

Here’s the process I found myself moving through with tips to help you unplug from and minimize your posessions.

Be aware of your feelings.

Don’t shake them away, they’ll fester. Breathe into them. Pretend you are a curious scientist silently observing and notice what you’re feeling and where you are feeling it as well.

The common emotions you’ll feel when unplugging are guilt, shame, fear, lack, greed.

It was fascinating to notice how controlling these emotions. They keep us trapped, most of the time without us knowing it. If you approach with awareness you’ll see how this works and so be better able to unplug from it.

You can even visualize the energetic tie between each of your possessions and your body.

Does it feel like it’s choking you, pulling you, got you wrapped up in a bind?

This will better help you understand the connection you have with your stuff and whether it’s holding you back or not.

Tune into your feelings and then

Ask the right questions

  • What am I feeling now?
  • I wonder why I feel like this?
  • What am I struggling with about this?
  • What emotion is lying underneath this?

Acknowledge how you feel

I feel ….

Never say I am overwhelmed, frustrated etc. Because that defines you as being that thing. You attach yourself to it and makes it harder for you to change.

“I feel” gives it a transitory energy. You feel overwhelmed right now but in ten minutes you might feel calm.

Going into the feeling will lead you to peace, help you gain clarity to what’s important and release you from your doubts and fears.

Look to the lesson

Now that you have inspected the emotions, look to the lessons hidden within the emotions and the process of releasing yourself from your stuff!

  • What’s good about this?
  • What have I learned?
  • What stories are attached to this stuff? How has it defined me? Who can I be without it?
  • How can this empower me?
  • What’s really important to me?

Be grateful, let go, embrace the new

This is a cleansing process. You can’t get through it if you don’t let go of the old and embrace the new. We’re evolving beings so the new is always a positive step forward.

I find gratitude is the bridge to help you get from one side of the other.

The process in action

close up of butterflies

The emotions I went through when it came to reducing my stuff.

Shame/guilt/greed: I feel ashamed that I’ve got so much stuff here. Most of this I don’t even care about. How greedy? How wasteful? You’re not respecting money or the environment for having so many things you don’t care about.

Overwhelm/annoyed: I don’t want to look at anything anymore because it makes me feel so awful? I’m so annoyed at myself for slipping back into gathering crap. There’s too much here to deal with I just want it to go?

Fear/lack: But, what if I need it in the future? I’ll have to buy it again and that’s not being respectful? What if I can’t afford any of this again? What if everything falls apart and I end up on the street with nothing? Hang on, I own nothing. How is that giving a good life to my children? Oh God I’m such an awful parent. I’m not giving them any security. If something happens to me they’ll have nothing. Look at their life. They hardly have any toys as it is. They’re really missing out.

The lessons and returning to your values

Breathe. Reality check. You’re releasing yourself from the binds that hold you back which you believed were valuable, but only caused you time, energy and money to manage.

Okay so your children don’t own a lot. That’s great. You’re teaching them about priorities, values and sacrifices. You’re teaching them to live a life governed by values and dreams not by stuff.

None of the stuff matters. It doesn’t really tell me who I am in this moment, but who I was in the past. Allow it to pass.

I’m holding onto this plannner, even though it weighs kilos, because it makes me feel important. Would you rather feel important or lightweight and free? Reduce the load and use a small notebook instead.

I’ve unplugged and decluttered so I can live my dream but because I believe I can give my children so much more and a better side of me in doing so. I believe in memories and moments more than possessions. I believing in having a story to tell. I believe in sharing and living a full life.

I’m doing this not just for me but the greater purpose I feel to share and help. I believe in your dreams. I support you. I know it’s my purpose and my strength. I am the person you can come to and whisper your dreams and I will say back  “you can do it.” (sometimes with poms poms waving)

I am a seeker. A seeker doesn’t need much else than exploration and discovery. I’m always seeking new insights, pushing my limits, trying new things so I can gather all of this and share it with you.

Moving to the celebration and gratitude

All this time you’ve been berating myself for being careless, whimsical and a fool. Really?

You are courageous to have so much faith to cut off everything, to reinvent yourself just because you feel so called to do it. It’s brave. Be the light, be proud of yourself.

Gratitude for all my teachers, my position and privilege, the good lessons I’m teaching my girls

  • Life is more important than stuff
  • Experiences and moments give enrichment
  • Follow joy, wonder, awe, gratitude
  • Believe in the power of you and your dreams
  • Give back and make life about something greater than you

For you

Can you see this back and forth process you go through? It’s chaotic. Because change is chaotic. You can’t move through it without there being a severe shake up.

I have a bonus audio and PDF about this in my Money Cleanse and so many participants have said how much this has helped them move through the chaos of change. They had no idea that was what was happening to them they just thought all hell was breaking loose but the guide put it into perspective for them.

There’s no doubt that when you unplug from and minimise your possessions you will go through this roller coaster ride of emotions. You are letting go of who you thought you were – that’s a lot of baggage isn’t it?

But, it will help. And you’ll get better at it the more you do it.

I rarely hold onto anything anymore. I’ve tossed out old journals and photographs – stuff I once deemed was so important because they defined me and were helping me leave my mark.

Now that I’m an avid believer in simplicity and unplugging, I understand there is no value at all in holding on to this stuff. It’s holding on to a stranger’s life. I’m not that person anymore, I don’t care to be that person, and I don’t want that energy hanging around.

Sometimes we hold onto stuff because the memories are the only good things we have in the present moment. It’s good to hold onto those memories, but it’s not good to allow them to turn you from making happier memories now.

It may be different for you. You decide based upon your priorities and values, but I urge you to take the giant leap for cutting something out of your life that you thought was crucial to your identity. Just to see how you feel after it. Check in with the liberation and celebrate the new you.

Tips for minimizing and unplugging from your possessions

people walking down a beachPut your favourite music playlist on

Everything is better when music accompanies it. Put on music that has many happy memories for you. It will help you tune into what is important while you clean and cleanse.

No complaining

Complaining takes you away from the present and is pointless.

This doesn’t mean we turn our attention away from what we are feeling and what we can uncover underneath it – complaining will take you away from that task.

It means intending to be present and dealing with what comes up and perhaps enjoying the experience of cutting ties, making a fresh start and having a chance to listen to your favourite songs. When else do we get an entire day to do that?

Prepare your meals in advance

You won’t feel like making food in the middle of your pack up and cleaning. Have meals and snacks prepared so you can easily have some nourishing food to get you through the trauma!

Drink plenty of water

You know the score. Water keeps you vibrant and replenished and is super cleansing.

Have your mantras

Keep repeating your mantras to help you move through the change. Focus on positive thoughts, beliefs, the greater purpose and the change you are embracing.

Stock-take your food and toiletries

In the weeks before you start this process, stock-take all your food, cleaning products and toiletries – all those disposable items. Make it your intention to use the majority of it up before you leave to avoid dumping.

If you have a lot of a certain type of ingredient left then create recipes from them for the days before you depart to use it all. Google recipes with that ingredient and you’ll find a wide variety of options. Donate what’s left over if you can. At least to your neighbor or friends.

Start with the easiest

Start with whatever is easy for you to let go of first. Move onto the harder stuff and got through the emotion process outlined above.

Once you’ve worked through the guilt and the shame etc. accepted them you’ll find it so much easier to cull more of your stuff.

I had things packed up in boxes to keep. After going through the cleansing process I didn’t feel like keeping it anymore. I knew I was only holding onto it because of guilt, fear and lack, not because it was something couldn’t live without.

Go through this process multiple times. We ended up taking a few boxes down to my mothers and when I arrived and looked in them I couldn’t believe some of the stuff I brought down.

I’m going through a it again and minimizing even more. We have even more stuff at my mother in laws from when we left three years ago and now I look at it, I’m confused as to why we kept some stuff. Totally irrelevant.

Although, I was super excited to see two bottles of sparkling wine I held onto!!! I’ll be getting rid of those soon!!

Trash, donate, keep, sell

I explained more about this in a post I wrote before we left on our Australian road trip, which you can read here. Basically, have four piles that you categorise your things into. Go through your keep pile several times as you move through the unplugging process and gain greater clarity on what’s important.

Assess the time and cost involved in selling your items as well. It might just be better if you donate rather than sell. It depends on what position you are in.

We tend to donate more than what we sell. I like to take advantage of this experience to pay it forward rather than keep every last cent for myself. Not only is it a chance for giving, but also an opportunity to practice my faith that I am always supported and abundance will always flow to me. I don’t need to hoard.

If it costs more to maintain then to replace it IF necessary later, it’s much better to release your energetic tie to it and pay it forward to someone who can use it now.

Tap into the abundance flow – there is plenty for all, what you give returns to you and you’re always supported.

Hire a cleaner

Hindsight is a magical thing. We chose not to hire a cleaner as we were quoted $300 – $400 and thought we’d save money by doing it ourselves. Wrong choice. It took two days and was back breaking and hideous. It wiped me out for days after.

Cleanse the air

When its all done, burn some sage or spray some clearing mist so you can eliminate the rancid air and all that old energy you no longer want hanging around.

Don’t forget to breathe deep, repeat your mantras, feel good about the positive leap forward you are making in your life, and unwind with a song a dance a quick yoga session and a glass of wine with friends at the end of it all.

Want more help with conquering the clutter?

This Conquer the Clutter Ultimate Bundle will help. 38 tools to help you restore sanity to your home, family, work and life. Click here now to access your copy.

How you’ll feel at the end of your unplugging session

Clean. Free. Determined not to own so much stuff again. More connected to your values and priorities. More connected to moments and memories and those you love rather than possessions that collect dust, break, rust and lose their shine.

You’ve chosen life experiences. Celebrate that!

Pin to Pinterest to help to others:

people walking on a beach

More packing posts to help you:

How do you move through the unplugging process?

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27 thoughts on “How to unplug from and minimize your possessions”

  1. A writing readable, honest sometimes we are tired with the situation we are both in search for treasure and maintain the property that we already have. So is it true that with a little forgotten all about it with a walk refresing can make us happy ?

    1. Such a great post Jeff. Thanks for sharing. Totally agree about the wealthy ones talking about climate change. I’m glad they are bringing awareness to people but not that they fly from lecture to lecture in private jets!!

  2. I love this post. One of the biggest steps to take is minimising and moving away from our possessions and belongings in order to take on the “Travel Journey”.
    I have had to do this process twice. I love the details and the explanations of what one goes through in order to achieve this step.

    I will certainly be sharing this post today. Thank you 🙂

    1. Thanks so much Leezett. There is a lot involved in taking the journey. I think a lot of people possibly put it off because they don’t want to face the horror of the minimilization process.

  3. I agree with you a ton! We just moved our family from the USA to New Zealand a month ago and minimizing helped us a ton. Finally getting settled in in the last week is helping a ton as well. Gathering our breath, getting some stability in the changing that has been our life. And we need it given the earthquakes, flooding, record rains and strong winds we’ve been experiencing.

  4. A very similar thing helps me declutter – put things in a box, suitcase (anything you can’t see into) and then when you go to check it in a month, the meaning has 99% of the time been detached and I can donate/sell/throw it. For long and boring reasons I have a hard time getting rid of stuff but out of sight works really well for me.

  5. For most people, this is the hardest step of moving to full-time travel! Not saving money, not making travel plans, buying the gear, or saying goodbye to old friends.

    When we made the leap a few years ago, after seven years in our house in LA, we had gathered a ridiculous amount of stuff! So we invited all of our friends, work mates, and acquaintances over and had a huge “give it all away” party. We had shelf loads and boxes of stuff all around the house that people could take. We also tagged any furniture and anything in the garden we were giving away.

    It was so amazing to see friends walk out the door taking our beloved possessions with them – a much happier feeling than seeing it all go to a random charity shop. Now, when we visit our old home, we find our stuff snuggled happily in our friend’s homes… we love it!


  6. I love how you are blending consciousness, practicality and spirituality in your process. Being human is an interesting prospect. On the one hand we love to grow roots, on the other we love our freedom.

    Thank you for sharing your journey.

  7. This post came to my inbox at the perfect moment. I’ve been contemplating a move interstate for some time and last night had a realistic think about it and a chat to a friend and what do you know… hello email 🙂 🙂 Change 🙂 Thankyou!!

  8. We too had a ‘clearing out party’ to which we invited our friends and family. It was wonderful to see people excited about owning our stuff – much of it things that we hadn’t used in years!

    We sold our house to live in a caravan and travel Europe for a year and the process of removing ourselves from the life that we had been living was very hard, especially for our two children. We kept telling them that this was just a process we had to get through and that what we were feeling was resistance to that change. We reassured them that once it was over, we would feel calm again and ready to start a new life. It felt like we were a tree and that we had to rip ourselves from out of the ground, pulling our roots up and making a whole big mess in the process. It was completely overwhelming and, despite clearing out and getting rid of lots of possessions, we still have a storage container back home FULL of stuff. And even as we were locking the door on it to start our adventures, I knew that there were things in there that I didn’t want anymore and wished we hadn’t held onto. I know that when we return, one of our first jobs will be to get rid of more of it.

    BUT, having said all of that, our first night in our caravan after it was all done was so calm and peaceful. It was as though we had passed through a door into another world – one where we were free and not tied down by possessions – and that was an AMAZING feeling! All of a sudden, all of the emotions and trauma of the previous few months disappeared, especially for the children. It was like a switch. They had struggled, struggled, struggled and been hyper-emotional and upset and then in an instant they let go of all those emotions and were excited about our new life and the trip. it felt like we had finally cut the final strings (ropes? chains?) that held us in that same life and were free to follow our dreams!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings as well as your tips and info about destinations. It makes me realise that the emotions I have gone through and the problems or challenges we have had are perfectly normal and that really helps, especially when you are in the middle of it and can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Xx

    1. Thank you for sharing Sarah. I loved reading this and can resonate so well with it. What an amazing lesson for your children! They gain so much from it without even realising. They’ll be less and less afraid of change the older they get which is such a blessing for their lives.

  9. I miss the time when you didn’t have Internet while travelling. You could walk into a hostel and meet people more easily. Postcards were still an important thing back then. The comfort of internet took a bit of the magic of travelling.

    1. Yep. It definitely felt more organic and social. I agree the magic was taken off a bit. There are other new things it offers which are exciting and transformative but I sure do miss those travel days!

  10. I once left my cell phone at home when I traveled for 2 weeks. It was frantic at first. Then it became amazing.
    I couldn’t believe how much I had grown dependent on that thing until I gave it up. Once I did, I loved it and really didn’t want it back in my life when I returned home.

  11. “There will be so much going through your head as you declutter and detangle yourself from the stories of who you thought you were.”

    This. This is absolutely one of the hardest hurdles for me when cleaning out my spaces. I recently finished reading The Hoarder In You and it had a great point about all the mementos we keep in order to “remind” ourselves who we are and how far we’ve come. I had been holding onto a ton of photographs where every time I looked at them, I felt a touch of shame, but figured that was a good thing as to make sure I didn’t end up there. She goes on to say how painful reminders aren’t worth keeping and neither are mementos you feel obligated to hold onto just because it happened. Great post, really loved your approach!

    1. I held onto things for the same reason. Then a few years ago I realised that was not a great approach as it was continuing to allow myself to feel shame instead of release and forgiveness. Once I let them go, life changed for me in so many ways. Now I understand how powerful that is, I’m very good at releasing anything that holds a negative charge for me. If it doesn’t help me evolve and move forward it goes.

  12. Loved your tips for decluttering! We’re moving in December an hour away but actually to a bigger space. In the meantime I’m trying to declutter and prep the old house to sell. I’m losing my will to cook in the process! Thanks for the reminder to prep and keep stock of what I have, because even though I can move it, I don’t want to!! Also, the donating is key. I had a box of things I thought I would sell but in the meantime I’m realizing the time to list them and such- it may be just easier to donate. Thanks again.

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