Reno Gazette-Journal Sunday, April 3rd, 2022
The house is too big. The yard has become unmanageable. Closets are filled to the brim. You haven’t been in the attic for decades.
Despite all the signs that it’s time to simplify, many people struggle with letting go.
Whether it’s saying “goodbye” to a home of many years or parting with the treasures inside, certain challenges are commonplace when it comes to downsizing, rightsizing, or relocating.
“In our April 14 seminar, we will take a deep dive into the human psyche and discuss what makes it so difficult to let go,” said Brett Junell, co-moderator of the Retired Living Truth Series. “On May 19, Part II of the downsizing series will cover the necessary tasks, resources, and timelines associated with making a successful retirement move.”
But first, why is it so difficult to let go of your “stuff”?
The most commonly used word to describe the downsizing process is “overwhelming.” In fact, many people find themselves paralyzed by even the idea of moving to a smaller or more manageable space. Often the stuff is harder to part with than the house itself.
Everyone tends to accumulate a lot of personal treasures over time. It’s just part of living a long and memorable life. Downsizing often requires letting go of some of these treasures. It also means coming to terms with what are really treasures and what is just “stuff.”
This can often feel like the most overwhelming part of an otherwise positive decision to move.
Psychologists understand that it’s hard because it means that you need to free yourself from some aspects of your past. Things that have become a part of yourself – of what makes you who you are today.
But, does that have to be the case? Are there ways to approach the prospect of downsizing and letting go of belongings or the family home that can ease this sense of loss?
Here are some questions which the seminar will pose to help attendees understand the psychology of downsizing:
- What do material possessions mean to me?
- What do they represent in my life?
- Why are some things so hard to give up?
- Why do some people have more trouble letting go than others?
The psychology of things may be put into these five broad categories:
– Emotional/Sentimental: I love my furniture even though it’s too big for my house, and I have a strong attachment to the bookcase full of books I’ve never read.
– Utilitarian/Practical: I might need that someday so I need to keep it. It’s like that bucket of bolts in the garage.
– Financial/Investment: I think it’s valuable though I’ve never had it appraised, like the china my mother got from her mother.
– Identity/Image: My style is Hawaiian and all my furnishings reflect that image. Doesn’t everyone love Hawaiian décor?
– Estate/Legacy: I have a shed full of expensive tools I’m sure my grandson would love to have when he grows up, but I’ve never asked him.
Psychologists point out that for many aging adults letting go is connected to the loss of control many feel as they age. Not letting go is a way to seek control.
Author David Solie, an expert in geriatric psychology, points out that planning is a key to maintaining control. He highlights these “Phase of Life Tasks” as critical to seniors working through issues like downsizing:
– Maintaining control in a world where all control is being lost.
– Leaving a legacy in a world where time is running short.
With each downsizing into a smaller space, we’re saying goodbye to a part of the life we created. We’re reducing the number of decisions which must be made. We’re limiting the amount of effort required for nonessential tasks due to our physical/cognitive abilities. We’re simplifying our lives. We’re facing our mortality.
But like they say, “You can’t take it with you.”
We’re all going to downsize, whether we move or not. Downsizing over time is the answer. Start sooner, not later. Avoid the grief and hassle of dealing with all of this when you don’t have another choice.
If you lost your house and everything in a fire, would you survive? Of course, you would. You would grieve, but it would not be the end of your existence. Don’t wait for a “fire.” Come to the seminar and learn some tools for getting your mind ready to let go.
Attend the April 14 seminar to learn more about the psychology of letting go.
You may also wish to plan to attend the May 19 seminar, the second part in the downsizing series.
The “Truth about The Downsizing Easy Method” seminar will be held on Thursday, April 14 from 10-11:30 a.m. at the RSAR Building at 5650 Riggins Court, Reno (near Meadowood Mall).
The seminar is free for seniors and their guests. Pre-registration is required because seating is limited.
Seat reservations can be made online
at www.RetiredLivingTruthSeries.com or by calling (775) 432-6398.