Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Stuff, the Magic Dragon...Part II...

I'm hastily skimming a book, "Making Peace with the Things in your Life," (by Cindy Glovinsky) before returning it to the library. In some ways, this book is "not my cup of tea". However, I do think the author asks some interesting questions to help us think about our relationship to "stuff".

Our answers to these questions aren't necessarily "right" or "wrong"; they do, however, reveal our emotional feelings about things. We may not realize how those feelings affect our decisions about how we attain, use, or dispose of things. Once we understand the feelings we project onto objects, we can make more informed decisions about things.

Here are some of the questions:

1) Make a list of ten Things that you own and consider how you decided that you needed each of them. What role did friends, relatives, or advertisers play? Were you imitating someone when you brought it? What did you hope it would do for you? Did you see it as helping you to create a new identity? as empowering you in some way? as enabling you to belong? as making you or your life perfect? How did owning the object affect you once you made the purchase? Pay special attention to fashionable Things that have only recently come on the market.

2) Do you fear that if you put papers in closed containers, you'll forget where they are? Do you spread your papers on horizontal surfaces such as desktops? Do you believe this is the only way that you will be able to find them? How much time do you spend looking for lost papers?

3) Do you usually put Things away as soon as you've used them? In what situations do you do this, and what situations do you not?

4) Do you have certain times, either daily, weekly, monthly, or annually, when you routinely clean, and/or put Things away?

5) What proportion of your Things have homes? Do you know where all of these homes are? Do you use any tools, such as labels, indexes, or color coding to remind yourself where each object goes?

6) When you lose something, how do you react? Are you able to search calmly and do what you can to replace it, or do you have problems dealing with frustration? Are you constantly trying to get someone else to rescue you by finding things you have lost?

7) Once you've accepted a gift, do you feel obligated to keep it forever? What would happen if you gave it away yourself? How would you deal with this?

8) Are you keeping a lot of family heirlooms to pass on to your descendants? How do you and your potential heirs feel about these Things?

9) Would you feel guilty if you got rid of something left to you by a deceased person? How could you manage your guilt feelings? What are you afraid might happen if you give the gift(s) away?

10) Once you've decided to give or throw away a Thing, do you keep it moving to its final destination? Or, does it sit for months in your closet, back porch, front porch, lawn, or in your basement, garage, attic, car, or truck?

11) Choose a room in your home. List every Thing you can see that is not essential for your survival. On a scale from 1 to 10, how much pleasure does each of these Things currently give you? The items with a score of at least 6 are among your "Happiness Things". Now focus on the Things that received a score of less than six. Consider why you are keeping those things.

12) What do your "Happiness Things" have in common? What does that tell you about yourself?

13) Do you ever take your anger at people out on Things? Have you ever destroyed something valuable in a fit of anger?

14) In dealing with Things, are you afraid of not being perfect, of making a mistake, of forgetting something, of having to face reality, of being bored, of ruining a relationship, of feeling helpless, of having your weakness exposed, of going with out, of feeling empty? How can you deal with these feelings?

15) Walk through your home and ask yourself what you feel as you encounter different Things. Make a list of ten "sadness things". Consider why each object makes you feel sad. Why have you chosen to keep to keep a certain Thing, even though you feel sad to look at it? Is there a "should" involved, or do you feel it will help you to heal yourself? If you feel that you "should" keep it, what is the reason why you "should"?

16) Does anyone use you as a dumping ground for their excess, useless things? Do you truly want these things? If you don't, why do you accept them if you know that you neither desire them or have a use for them yourself?

17) Have you ever gone ahead and started working even when you were so behind you never thought you could ever clean up a cluttered area? Did you keep working until you were finished or did you give up before finishing? How did this make you feel?

18) When do you usually receive mail into your hands? Do you put it down to sort later, or do you open it right away? If you allow mail to accumulate before dealing with it, where do you keep it in the meantime? When and how often do you look at e-mail? Do you feel a compulsion to check for messages frequently? Do you print out a lot of your e-mails? If you do, where do you keep the printed copies? (And, a question for myself -- How often do you clean out your in-box?)

19) What patterns can you identify in how you arrange Things? Do you leave your clutter out for all the world to see or do you hide it away in closets and drawers? Do you favor vertical or horizontal arrangements? If you stack vertically, do you pull out a bottom container, so that the rest of the stack topples?

20) How familiar with you with service centers in your area? How would you go about getting a broken thing fixed? What broken Things do you currently have in your space? Where are they stored? What do they have in common? What was your original plan for getting them fixed? At what point did they become stalled? What happened? Do you know where the warranties for your things are?


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