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Why It’s So Hard To Give Stuff Away

  July 23

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Have you ever struggled with giving something away?

If so, you’re definitely not alone. In the United States alone, there are over 60,000 storage facilities that each can hold dozens to hundreds of units. We as an American culture are endlessly attached to our stuff, because our culture associates “things” with wealth or success. We are all guilty of it, but in a recession when people are struggling, it’s time to evaluate what’s really important: our livelihoods or our belongings?

Let’s look at something small, a case study if you will, about my own stuff and how I struggled giving certain things away this past weekend:

Back in the day, I used to work at a scrapbook store. That probably comes as a huge surprise, right? Me? Crafting? Who would have thunk it? 😉

Those scrapbooking supplies lasted through many purges, even my epic Give Away 2011 in 2011 mission. But, they didn’t last through my purge this past weekend. Yet, it was still so hard to sell them to a lovely lady who handed over $60.00 for them. “Why?” I wondered. “Why can’t I just let them go and not worry about it?”

The thing is, we all have trouble letting things go, but with the right frame of mind, we can overcome it.

Scrapbook Supplies

Here are some reasons why this is such a difficult thing to do for anyone and everyone:

1. We paid good money for our items!

When I was a college student working at that scrapbook store, I spent part of my paychecks on those supplies, and yesterday, I handed over about $200.00 worth of stickers, ribbons, brads, stamps, etc. for $60.00. So many of the items were unopened, unused, and untouched, as you can see in the picture above. I knew I wouldn’t get back my initial “investment.” I was lucky to get $60.00. But, I think it hurt because I hate wasting money, and just handing it over felt like I was getting the bad end of the deal.

2. We are only focused on the potential.

Expensive tools to build the shed you always wanted. Piles of scrap wood to make your son bookshelves. A pretty dress you found on sale but never got to wear. These are all items we bought because we could see the potential. I purchased scrapbooking supplies because I wanted to preserve our memories, but for whatever reason, I did not sit down to do it except for once or twice. The only reason I kept the items is because I hoped that one day I would have the chance. After 4 years of them sitting in their unopened state, I had to come to the realization that not only had my interests changed but so did my priorities.

3. If we give it away, it feels like failure.

Many of the scrapbooking supplies were for a book about travelling. Four years ago my then boyfriend (now husband) and I backpacked across Europe. I had stickers for every city we went to. Not making “the book” felt like a failure, like I had not completed some womanly duty I had planned to do. I had to realize that my husband didn’t value me based on pretty paper and glitter glue. He values me because of who I am. We’re much more interested in printing hardback photo books now, and if I ever get the inkling to make a scrapbook again, like a baby book perhaps, I can always go and purchase items just for that book.

This same principle applies to clothes that are too small. You might feel like a failure because you don’t fit into them anymore and hope that you will someday. Or, perhaps you don’t want to sell those expensive tools on Craigslist because you were going to build the shed, if only you ever got around to it.

What most people don’t realize though is that letting go can actually help with this mental struggle. We are all so weighed down with our belongings, and we don’t even realize it.

If you have a boat sitting in your yard, for example, you probably feel obligated to use it as much as possible during the summer. Many summers, however, it is not possible to get out to the lake, making you feel as though purchasing the boat was a waste of money. What you might not know is that instead of selling it, you can donate your boat. The charity to which you donate will then sell the boat at auction and hands the money over to its special programs. You will also receive a tax receipt once the boat sells, so it is not a total financial loss.

It might seem silly talking about all this over a few packs of scrapbook stickers, but it’s really just an example of a larger problem that we all experience every day: navigating life in a world that is constantly telling us to buy new things.

However, I really feel that it’s never too late to start to process of freeing yourself from these burdens. Because my hubs and I are learning and understanding these lessons early, we will have more of a savings and more net worth in the long run. And, not to mention, we’re going to have a really clean house too. 🙂

Have you ever struggled with giving something away? Anyone else giving away a ton of stuff lately or in the near future?

7 responses to “Why It’s So Hard To Give Stuff Away

  1. I totally know how this feels. I have so much STUFF in my room in my parent’s home in boxes. I keep wanting to go through it all to keep what I want and give away what I feel like giving away, but I never have. At this point, if it all went, I probably wouldn’t miss a thing since I don’t even remember what’s in the boxes anymore, but I know once I open them I’ll have a hard time giving the stuff away.

    I was just thinking the other day, while traveling with only a carry-on, that I felt so much lighter. I can survive with literally only the things I fit into that carry-on bag– essentially, a toothbrush, deodorant, swimsuit, dress, a pair of jeans, and three shirts. I felt so light. Like I could go anywhere and do anything.

  2. This is such an insightful post! I totally see myself in a lot of what you wrote. I have a hard time letting go of things when it feels like I’m admitting failure – that that specific purchase was not a good one. (This is something I had never realized until right this moment.) Great post!

  3. Your post is exactly what I needed to read right now. It’s okay not to get into knitting. It’s okay to outgrow scrapbooking. I really must will myself to let go of all these things that aren’t me (anymore) so as to stop feeling guilt and shame every time I see all the crafting materials I don’t use any more. Thanks for this post! It’s encouraging me to move a little bit closer to letting go.

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