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You Are Not Your Stuff

Have you ever read The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams? It’s a powerful story of love and self-acceptance. As I reflected on it the other day, I realized that we (humans) have to remember that we are real and we are what truly matters. Our stuff is secondary. Here’s an excerpt from the book that illustrates how our true value is in who we are.

Weeks passed, and the little Rabbit grew very old and shabby, but the Boy loved him just as much. He loved him so hard that he loved all his whiskers off, and the pink lining to his ears turned grey, and his brown spots faded. He even began to lose his shape, and he scarcely looked like a rabbit any more, except to the Boy. To him he was always beautiful, and that was all that the little Rabbit cared about. He didn't mind how he looked to other people, because the nursery magic had made him Real, and when you are Real shabbiness doesn't matter.

― Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit

People Versus Possessions Material possessions often make our lives easier and our environment more aesthetically pleasing. They also allow us to represent ourselves to the world in whatever way we desire. Our choice of clothes, accessories, home goods, vehicles, technology, etc. all say something about who we are. Even if you align yourself with certain brands or products that represent your values, however, none of these things are you.

Simply put, things are just things. Whether it’s your most prized possession or a mountain of clutter, they are not you. We should remind ourselves of the difference from time to time. If your self-worth gets too entangled with what you own and how it’s arranged, you may find yourself on an emotional rollercoaster ride.

So, I want to encourage you (and myself) to disconnect your identity from your possessions…just a bit.

The Benefits of Disconnecting Your Identity From Your Stuff

  1. It Facilitates Reaching Your Organizing Goals Separating your identity from your stuff will help you achieve your organizing goals more quickly. It will help you make more objective and "clean" decisions about what to keep and what to edit. And when you find an item that feels like it's wrapped up with your identity, you can use the moment to practice consciously disconnecting. Here are some cautionary signposts to watch for as you work: "What will people think of me if I don't possess this item?" "But everyone has this item. Shouldn't I keep it?" (When it's an item you know deep down you do not need or want.) "What if the perfect opportunity comes up and I don't have this item?" (Have you been told you need this item? By whom? Do you believe you are creative and clever enough to navigate without it?)

  2. It Releases Shame When you disassociate from your stuff and you know you are real and valuable without it, you can release the shame you may feel. Many of my clients with chronic disorganization patterns will apologize for the state of their space and use language shaming themselves. "I don't know why I can't get it together." "I can't believe I let it get this bad." "I haven't had friends/family over because I'm too embarrassed." Whether you work with an Element of Fun Organizing team member or another organizing professional, you should never hear this kind of shaming from your organizer. Because, as organizing professionals, we see the real you. We know the stuff, no matter what state it’s in, is just stuff. It's the person who really matters. Remember that and release the shame you may be holding about the stuff that has accumulated.

  3. It Fosters More Conscious Consuming Remembering that you are what is real and what matters will keep you from chasing the next best thing that marketers are promoting. You’ll be better able to make decisions about what comes into your life and space, and less concerned with who it impresses. If you decide something does not align with your values, you don't have to acquire it. For every item we bring into our lives, we are saying, "Yes, I agree to take responsibility for this thing." That means every pen, book, cosmetic, piece of clothing, appliance, decorative doodad, vehicle, home, and everything in between that you possess, you've agreed to maintain and care for responsibly. Once you look at it that way, you may reconsider some of your purchases.


How do we disconnect from our things?

Here are a few quick suggestions to help you shift your mindset.

  • Start by looking at yourself. Change how you speak to yourself. Are you speaking kindly to yourself? Can you change the language of your inner voice?

  • Change how you care for yourself. Are you taking care of your body? You mind? Your surroundings?

  • Change how you see yourself. Do you view yourself as positively as you view others? If not, how could you change that to see the good in yourself?


We Do What We Do for You I didn't get into the organizing business because I love to sort things into categories and drop off donations. While I love to see a big transformation in a space, I started organizing to help real people live a better life. YOU are the reason my team and I organize. No matter how cluttered your space is, you are what is truly valuable to us.

So, when you need help or guidance organizing your space, know that we are here to help, not to judge. We hope that you will Contact Us to discuss your next project!

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