If permitted I could spend hours lost in thought. I continually find myself evaluating my progress, emotions, reactions, and internal temperature. Such is the nature of an introvert, perhaps. Yet self-reflection requires a certain degree of deliberation, of willingness to turn the magnifying glass on ourselves and be willing to accept whatever we find.
It’s a practice that can be incredibly rewarding, enjoyable even, when we feel content with ourselves, our values, and our actions. It’s like giving ourselves a gold star and relishing the good feelings it brings.
But when we struggle with what we encounter as we look deep within, or when a person or a situation fails to bring out the best in us, it can be difficult to be with ourselves in these moments, and to acknowledge our shortcomings with patience and compassion instead of redirecting our negative energy out into the world around us.
If we can’t accept ourselves at our worst, how can we expect those around us to? How can we expect ourselves to accept others? How can we celebrate our victories without also acknowledging the failures that paved the way for them?
We have to be willing to look inside even when it’s hard, even when we don’t like what we see. We have to accept that it’s our wholeness that makes us human, flaws and all.
Whether you’re just beginning your journey with minimalism or have been paring down your belongings in the pursuit of less for years, you’re likely to encounter bumps in the road. You’ll be faced with pieces of yourself that are hard to swallow. You’ll be forced to make decisions that make you question what you value. You’ll be confronted with your own biases and judgments, superiority and shame. You may at times find yourself asking, is it all worth it?
If joy is what you seek, yes. If simplicity sounds appealing, yes. If you want to get to know yourself more deeply, yes. Whatever path you’re on, self-reflection can help guide you. In fact, it may even be what encouraged you to change your lifestyle in the first place.
For many, minimalism emerges out of stress and overwhelm: too much stuff, too many bills to pay, not enough time, never enough space. For some it’s easy; for others, it’s one of the hardest things they’ve done. But for all, it’s worthwhile.
It’s not unusual to experience feelings that seem foreign or to discover new things about yourself when you initiate any type of change. Minimalism is often an invitation to get in touch with the parts of ourselves we’ve kept hidden or denied in favor of the accumulation of more.
Going back to basics opens the door to get back to ourselves: to what we value, to how we want to spend our time, to what we want to hold on to and what we want to let go of.
As you go forward in your journey, be patient. Remember that where you are now is not where you started. If you’re feeling stuck, keep going. Your current story only ends when you lose your curiosity for what comes next. Then it’s time to start a new one.
If you don’t like what you discover, dig deeper. For all of the difficult things you encounter about yourself, there are still more you can love. Your impatience, jealousy, anger, greed: they do not define you. But how you approach them does.
Be gentle with yourself.
Have you made mistakes? Yes. Will you again? Inevitably. You’ve also thrived, grown, and bravely kept going.
If you want the right answers, you have to ask the right questions. You can spend years wondering how to save more, how to improve your relationships, how to turn your passions into a living, how to retire early, and how to be happier. But wondering only keeps us stuck. What do you want to save for? What do you most value from your close connections? Where do you find meaning? What do you want to be your legacy?
Our journeys are greatly enhanced when we’re courageous enough to get to know ourselves more along the way. Wherever you may be on your path, use it as an opportunity to look inward, and let your outer space reflect what you find.