When Minimalism Scares Your Family
How to explain Minimalism to the people you love the most.
If you've embraced the idea of simple living and the concept of Minimalism, you will invariably run into a few bumps along the road. It's possible that the people closest to you may feel unsettled with the changes you make.
I have a very supportive family, and yet, none of them have embraced minimalism (yet). As I continue to streamline my schedule, our home, and our commitments, I drive the changes. They pretty much just put up with my shenanigans. I hope that one day they will live with less, but I know I can't make that decision for them or push it on them.
If your family jumps on board with your changes and participates in your journey towards a simpler life, that's awesome! For those of us going it alone, it can be helpful to be prepared for some push back from family and friends, and to know what to do when this happens.
The concern manifests itself in casual comments.
“Pretty soon we'll have nothing left but an empty house.”
“Do we still have that, or did you get rid of it?”
While these comments seem harmless on the surface, they offer clues about how scary change can be for the people around us. Here are some ways to navigate the concerns that come your way when you choose to simplify your life.
The ‘All About Me’ Mentality
When people we love react negatively to change, understand that it's really all about them. Everyone reacts to experiences from their own perception and their own reality, not yours. They may wonder how your changes will affect them, their relationship with you, and your future together. They may feel like there's no place for them in your new life. They can disagree with you or feel envious of you.
We feel safe with what is familiar. When that changes, people can feel uncertain.
Keep Calm and Explain Your Perspective
Our first reaction when a family member or friend contradicts us is to justify our actions. We want them to understand and agree with our perspective. We can see the positive impact minimalism is having on us, and we think they do too. But don't assume that people understand or agree with your reasons for simplifying. What is obvious to you may not be to others.
You are changing your spending habits in order to have more financial freedom. But your spouse may think you are trying to control his spending. You donate unneeded items from your home, and your spouse believes you don't value how hard he works to buy the things you have.
They may not get it. Stay calm and plainly state your reasons for embracing minimalism.
Love and Reassure
It's important to show your love for family and friends, and reassure them in the way they need to be reassured. Even though I thought my husband knew why I was incorporating minimalism into my life, he needed reassurance that the changes would benefit our relationship rather than detract from it. He needed to hear this out loud from me. We needed to have that conversation, and he needed me to tell him flat out.
“I'm not phasing you out of my life. I'm doing this so I can have more time for you and to be happier.”
Remember, fear from others is a signal you're growing. Embrace the growth, and do your part to help the people around you embrace it as well.