When you look around your home, you may see a lot of items and material things, and maybe you want to make a change. But learning how to let go of attachment to material things can be a challenge.
The reality is most of us are tied to our material possessions in some way. Whether we are overly attached to the items around our house or some of our bigger purchases, letting go of that attachment is often easier said than done.
Let’s explore how to let go of material things.
Why should you learn to let go of material things?
Before we dive into the mechanics of how you might break your attachment to material things, it’s important to consider why you should go down this path in the first place. For most of us, it’s easier to pursue a goal when there is a reason behind the choice.
Although there are many personal reasons to let go of an attachment to material things, here’s a closer look at two of the universal reasons that stand out.
It can be stressful
When you think of your material possessions, your mind might not immediately jump to stress. After all, you might think of the enjoyable feeling you had when walking out of the store with your purchase. But after that initial high point, hanging onto a surplus of items can end up adding stress to your life.
Items take up space
The items you hold onto will most likely take up space. In some cases, this can mean needing to upgrade to a larger home or rent a storage unit.
With either option, the simple act of hanging onto extra stuff may require you to shell out more money. Finding the funds you need for this choice in your budget can add unnecessary financial stress to your life.
They need maintenance
Beyond the storage requirements of extra stuff, the items you hang onto may need ongoing maintenance.
For example, if you have a recreational vehicle, like an RV or boat, either will likely require significant ongoing maintenance that may drain your time and your wallet.
Other things, like a larger home, will also require extra maintenance, which can add stress to your life.
More items mean more clutter
Plus, having extra things in your home can make it a challenge to find what you actually need. If you live in a state of clutter, finding a tool or pair of shoes can suddenly become an issue.
It can be expensive
Buying and keeping things can create a dent in your bank account. Whatever your reasons for an attachment to material items, it’s easy to fall into a pattern of always wanting more. That's why it's essential to learn how to let go of attachment to material things.
There's always something better or newer to buy
And the reality is that there is always a better version of your possessions out there. For example, you might buy a dream designer purse in one season. But by the time the next fashion cycle rolls around, it’s possible your current purse is outdated.
If you try to keep up with the trends, you’ll have to fork over the money for another purse.
But this reality goes beyond purses. You can always find a bigger house, a faster car, and more trinkets for your hobby. When you get caught in a cycle of attachment to material possessions, the costs can add up quickly.
Steps for how to let go of attachment to material things
If you are ready to make a significant change, that’s a great place to start. Learn how to let go of material things using these ideas.
Journal about your material attachments
If you have a deeply rooted attachment to material items, understanding your connection to these things can make all the difference.
Without a clear picture of where your attachment stems from, it can be difficult to find out how to let go of attachment to material things.
With that in mind, consider journaling about your material possessions. You might be surprised, but journaling is associated with many positive impacts on your mental health. One of these benefits is the ability to sort out what you really think about a situation.
When it comes to your material attachments, consider journaling about the difference between things you need versus things you want. Additionally, try to discern why you are attached to items that you don’t necessarily need.
Start by letting go of easy things
Some things are easier to let go of than others. Instead of jumping off the deep end, start by getting rid of some easy things first.
A few of the items that might be easier to get rid of include unnecessary papers, magazines, and clothes that don’t fit. While going through these items, getting rid of some should be relatively painless.
When it comes to getting rid of things, practice makes perfect. After clearing out your house of things you know you don’t need, it’s time to start looking at what’s left.
Comparison is the thief of joy, claimed an unidentified source in our history. Although the origins of this quote were around well before social media, the ability to constantly compare yourself to the best version of your family and friends has made the threat of comparison even more true.
If possible, try to avoid comparing your material possessions to those of others. The reality is that someone will likely have a better version of your possessions. Instead of harping on the difference, focus on what makes you happy.
When constantly comparing yourself to others, it’s easy to want more things. Avoid the temptation by cutting back on your social media consumption.
Be careful with sentimental items
Sentimental items are one of the biggest traps for material attachments. After all, you associate the item with a good memory of some kind. But leaving all of your sentimental items in a pile of boxes isn’t necessarily the right move.
Start the process of letting go slowly. You might decide to display items that really matter to you.
Or choose to keep one item of many to represent your emotional tie. If you have other loved ones who may enjoy the items, consider sharing your wealth of sentimental items.
That way you can learn how to let go of attachment to material things without losing every sentimental item.
Count your blessings
It’s easy to think about what you don’t have. But counting your blessings is an exercise in remembering to be grateful for what you do have.
Consider setting aside a few minutes to think about the blessings that you do have. Although you can just count up what you have in the house, it’s also helpful to think about how far you’ve come.
For those that have made significant progress towards their lifestyle goals, counting your blessings can help you determine when you have enough to enjoy.
Nurture a positive state of mind
A negative state of mind is more prone to pulling your thoughts toward what you don’t have. In contrast, a positive state of mind will help you remember what you do have, and help you with how to let go of material things.
It’s not always easy to be positive, especially in our negative world. But a positive state of mind can make all the difference.
A few ways to nurture your positive mindset include celebrating yourself, eating well, and finding a way to bring more fun into your life.
Donate items to a cause you care about
For many, the idea of throwing away a perfectly good item goes against everything they believe in. Luckily, there are many ways to give your unused items a second life, and it can be helpful when starting to learn how to let go of attachment to material things.
Instead of hanging onto items you don’t need, donate them to a cause you care about. Many thrift stores take donations to sell in support of a good cause.
If you don’t have a particular charity or cause in mind, consider finding friends that might appreciate the item. Personally, I remember that a bag of hand-me-down clothes was always a fun treat growing up.
Knowing how to let go of attachment to material things can improve your life!
An attachment to material possessions can hold you back from achieving your goals. It can be difficult to move in the right direction if you have a burden of items holding you back.
But when you apply what you've learned here, you'll find it easier to move forward with whittling down your possessions.
If you are unsure of the challenge, try starting small. Even very small steps in the right direction will eventually get you to the finish line. And this can help you experience more contentment and a more intentional life.