Emergency. Critical. Crisis.
Life is an adventure but we all have to hear words like those whether we like it or not.
Because sometimes life isn't pretty. It can get pretty ugly, in fact.
And when that happens, it feels like we're drowning. Easy things like getting out of bed become hard.
Minimalism's the last thing on our minds during a time like that.
It was definitely the last thing on my mind when I went through a tough time a few months back.
I don't want to be a Debbie Downer dumping all the details on you, but it's been crazy, friends. I cried buckets of tears, did a lot of thinking, and walked around overwhelmed with everything for a while.
Simple Not Stressful wasn't the only thing that went on the back burner as I struggled with how to deal.
For a while, my home started to mirror my messy mind as I let minimalism slide too.
Giving myself grace for that little while was totally OK. But when I started getting myself back together?
Minimalism was a huge help to me.
And if you're going through a tough time of your own, I want to share what I learned so it can be a huge help to you too.
It made everything simpler.
I know that sounds like a no-brainer --- it's what minimalism is supposed to do, yes? --- but it was something I really experienced during crisis time.
Being a minimalist meant I had already focused my time on doing things that mattered to me.
So when disaster hit, figuring out how to adjust my time to things was easier.
I didn't have pesky commitments I didn't care about to get out of. Sure, I had to let some things slide but not as many as they would have been before I got into minimalism.
I also didn't have a lot of people adding stress during this situation. Since I'd surrounded myself with people I could be real with, I found a lot of love and support when I needed it.
I pared down my day and my world to its essentials before life got screwed up. And that meant there was less unimportant stuff to deal with when things got tough.
It decluttered my mind.
As often happens during crunch time, my mind was overwhelmed with all sorts of thoughts and feelings. I didn't know what to do now, how my problems changed things, or what would happen next.
Things were uncertain, and that was stressing me out.
Minimalism helped me deal. It showed me I could let go of thoughts and feelings that didn't make a difference in the long run.
When a thought started to make me anxious, I'd ask myself: Can I let go of this thought and the feelings that go with it?
A lot of thoughts I was overwhelming myself with were just noise.
Minimalism showed me which ones were worth letting go of, and that helped me declutter my mind.
It forced me to face my problems.
What was left after I was no longer focusing on unnecessary worries and commitments?
The pink elephant in the room: what was actually bothering me.
Before I became a minimalist, I'd distract myself during crises with stuff that didn't matter.
Like the time I binge watched all the Star Wars episodes so I didn't have to hear the worries in my head. Then when I ran out of episodes --- there were only three at that time, heh --- I'd reread my favorite books.
I'd fill my time with mindless activities so I wouldn't have to accept I had problems.
And maybe that worked. For a while.
As we all know, denial doesn't make a problem go away. If anything, it gets worse the longer we don't deal.
Since minimalism meant doing things mindfully, I couldn't consciously choose to keep avoiding my problem.
First, cause dealing with it was clearly needed to keep my head on straight.
And, well, not dealing with it made me feel like a wuss.
And no one wants to feel that way, amIright?
That gave me the push to just start handling it.
It helped me find myself.
As cliché as that sounds, all the decisions I made about which thoughts and activities were important to me during crazy times meant I learned more about myself.
I learned what I was willing to let go of (and hold onto!) during a crisis.
I figured out what my priorities are, and remembered them when life started to get better again.
Money's always been a tricky thing for me, for example. Before minimalism, I spent my funds on stuff that didn't really matter to me: trawling Amazon before bedtime, eating out way too many times a week, buying clothes on sale I didn't actually want...
After becoming a minimalist, I did get a handle on my spending but some buying habits were still a struggle to let go of. I knew I didn't need one more book (or that slice of cake or that pair of shoes...) but they were too good to pass up!
When my problems entered the picture, minimalism helped me see how little joy I was getting for my money's worth. I knew this before but a crisis put things into perspective.
Will this book (or cake or shoes) be something I'll really really enjoy or am I just trying to escape a stressful situation?
Most of the time, it was the latter and that allowed me to learn what purchases truly made me happy.
To recap, minimalism didn't make my problems go away but it helped. A lot.
Because of it, I simplified my commitments, cleared my overwhelmed mind, geared up to face my problems, and ultimately learned about myself.
To paraphrase a Bible verse I love, I was "knocked down but not destroyed".* I'm now looking forward to where life takes me next.
I hope sharing this experience helps you when life gets tough. Because it will; it's inevitable.
But minimalism helps see you through.
* 2 Corinthians 4:9
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