Editor’s Note: This is a post in the new series, Simplicity in Action. If you’d like to submit your story of how simplicity has worked in your life, please read more here. You can write about anything from decluttering a junk drawer to simplifying your diet. Let your small and big changes inspire others.
Voluntary simplicity has helped me overcome many of my deepest fears. As a teen, I suffered social phobia to such an extent that I refused to leave my bedroom for 3 years. Now, looking back I see how many of my fears were based around materialism. I was not social phobic because I feared people would physically hurt me. I was social phobic because I feared how people would judge me.
I feared not wearing the right clothes or not having the money to buy the latest must have item. I feared my house was not good enough, or that I would end up in a lower paying job than others. At school I had been bullied for never wearing the right clothes. I felt like I did not belong as I did not like the same things as them. I ended up liking music, watching TV and going to movies just to fit in.
After I left school (well dropped out), I gained an interest in alternative therapies, as a way of trying to beat my social phobia. I do believe alternative therapy does work, and it did get me to point where I should have been able to recover, but it also became an addiction. I felt I could face my problem if I bought this crystal, or this aromatherapy oil, or go to this therapy or that. It was as though I was buying one thing and then seeing another advert for a ‘cure’ and that always delayed my recovery.
Since simplifying my life and de-cluttering the things that didn’t fit with who I am, I have found that my confidence has grown. Because I am no longer buying things or doing things simply to try and fit in with others, I feel more confident in myself. As I feel more confident in myself I feel less anxious around others.
De-cluttering has also helped me realise which specific people in my life have had a negative effect on my confidence. As I looked at what I owned and what I could get rid of I thought about what each item represented. I found there were items that had been given to me by specific people, who I did love, but who had brought me down a lot, or not believed in me. I realised these items constantly reminded me how they constantly made me feel that I was a failure or not good enough.
De-cluttering these items helped me to mentally release the power they had over me. I know I cannot change the way people act towards me, but I can change the way I respond.
Read more from Samantha at her blog, Minimalist Dreams.