First of all, this is not an anti-minimalist blog post. I consider myself a "beginner-minimalist" and as a person who struggled with shopping addiction in the past, I genuinely believe minimalism has tremendously helped my mental health. However, in this post I would like to explore "the dark sides" of minimalism for me. What is it that I still struggle with when it comes down to being a minimalist? Is having less stuff so liberating and calming as many minimalists out there put it? Can minimalism actually be a bad thing? These are the questions that I am going to answer in this article, so if you are interested, follow me.
Minimalism triggers my fear of missing out
In our today world it's hard to completely isolate yourself from advertising and "ideal life" propaganda. Those messages are built a certain way, where psychology is involved, we pay attention to them and very often start thinking: "Oh, this is something I need", "This is so cool", etc. At least I do! Those voices are even louder in my head, if "special offers" come along with the message.
Scarcity complex is the idea that there are not enough resources for everyone. According to researchers, scarcity mindset occupies a huge part of our brain, to the point we can't focus on anything else. "What if it will be sold out?" - I hear in my head.
Ideally minimalism can help with the scarcity complex because it helps to realize that material things don't bring happiness, we can be happy with less, we have enough. However, as a "beginner - minimalist" (or should I say "not-quite-there") I still find it hard sometimes to get rid of the fear that I might need something in the future. Each time I have an urge to buy something, I have a strong conflict inside between what I want and what's best for me. As I said, I have come to conclusion that minimalism is better for me than consumerism, but it is a choice that I still have to make every day, and just like everything else in life it comes with sacrifice.
Minimalism triggers my fear of not being perfect
The reason why I don't like labels so much is because they put me in the box, and I feel like I have to check all those marks on the list in order to be able to apply a certain label to my lifestyle. Simply put, I must be perfect. I honestly hate this word as nobody ever knows what is perfect, yet it still exists. The idea of perfect minimalism, for instance, is just alienating, because who the hell decides how many things you can own to call yourself a minimalist? However, I completely understand that words and labels exist for a reason and play an important role in our society, that is why we give them so much power over our lives. If I call myself a minimalist I want to make sure I don't randomly buy stuff, I buy it only when I need it, that I buy things that have multiple purposes, and I don't own duplicates. If I don't live according to those standards, I start feeling guilty, which turns into major anxiety.
I start thinking: "Can I call myself a minimalist or am I a fraud?" I feel guilty for wanting to buy something, because then I sort of disappoint myself as I don't live up to standard, I set for myself. Sigh.
Minimalism triggers my tendency to overthink
I already overthink my life on so many different levels. When every purchase becomes painful, I realize it's problematic. Nobody said minimalism is easy, but does it have to be so hard? Is my desire to sometimes buy more than I need caused by my greed or inability to resist? Am I too weak for this? Am I not better than a materialist? All these questions can drive me insane if I let myself go further.
It's important to mention environmental and ethical aspects of minimalism. When you know how clothing is made, what it takes to make an eyeshadow palette, purchases are no longer just my business, my choice impacts other people’s lives. I don’t think that thinking about these things is a bad thing, it is important to be aware and make the right decisions. However, thoughts like “I wish I didn’t know” can really consume a lot of our mental energy. Ignorance is bliss, as they say.
So, is minimalism to blame for me being triggered and can it be bad for me? I am not a perfect being, and there are many things that trigger my anxiety on a regular basis, but in the long term I honestly believe that living minimally can help me to get rid of unnecessary stimulus, to be more grateful and appreciative of things I already have, to save money and to become a better person.
What in my opinion can help with these triggers that I have mentioned? Well, here are 3 hacks that I started to use in my life, that hopefully will help you as well (if you are struggling).
Minimize your exposure to advertising. Unsubscribe from newsletters, channels that constantly promote products, turn off ads on your computer. That way you will not need to be worried about missing out. Protect yourself from unnecessary information.
Even a small change makes a difference in the world and in your life. Try to work on accepting who you are, that you are doing your best, pat yourself on the back for having good intentions. Everyone’s journey is different, so try not to compare yourself to others and realize, that there is no such thing as perfect. Trying to be perfect you might end up doing nothing.
Try not to binge watch minimalist channels or read too much information on minimalism. That way you will help yourself not to get overwhelmed by the enormous amount of information that is out there aka extensive thinking. Give yourself a break, take it nice and slowly, and remember that it is a journey to be enjoyed, to learn something along the way, not to make your life a nightmare.
I hope that you enjoyed this little blog post. Let me know if you can relate or share with me what you are struggling with in your minimalist journey.