Confession: I am a longtime lover of things. Cute things, shiny things, sparkly things. Things that smell good, things that look pretty on an end table, things that make entertaining more fun, things that remind me of happy memories. I love stickers, washi tape, cute pens, and coordinated wrapping paper. I have a serious thing habit. Or perhaps, I should say, I used to have a thing habit. Maybe it’s more accurate to say that my habit of loving things is in partial remission.
For years, I was major lover and collector of things. I had a purchasing problem. Not a spending problem, just an “oh my gosh, I love this and have to have it, even though I probably don’t need it” problem. But then I learned about minimalism. And I wanted to look away, but I couldn’t. I got honest with myself about my love of things, and I started down a path of more conscious consumption. (You read all about why and how I became a beginner minimalist here.)
I wish I could say that when I started practicing minimalism, I stopped wanting things. That I could stop buying stuff I didn’t need. I wish I could say that I stopped wanting another sparkly bracelet, the cute stationary in the Target dollar spot, or another pair of cowboy boots. (I am a Texan after all.) I’d love to say that I didn’t feel a magnetic pull toward Homegoods and Nordstrom Rack. But I do feel that pull. It’s less than when I started contemplating minimalism, but it’s still there.
What’s changed however is my ability to resist the pull to things. I notice the pull faster, checking in with myself about what I’m feeling. (Sidenote: this is where mindfulness comes in handy.) I’m better at talking myself through moments where I feel compelled to collect things, no matter how shiny and sparkly they are.
Recently, I’ve found a super simple phrase to help me in moments like this. To help me stop buying stuff I don’t need. You ready for this?
“You have enough.”
Yep, it’s as simple as that. “You have enough.” This simple phrase is a powerful reminder in moments where I feel compelled to consume, to buy stuff I don’t really need. Because the reality is, in ninety percent of the cases where I feel compelled to buy, I genuinely have enough of whatever it is I’m jonesing to buy.
For example, I have an entire jar of colorful washi tape on my desk. And I use it. (My day planner probably looks like it belongs to a fourth grader, decked out with stickers and washi tape.) I literally have plenty. But there I stand in Michaels, convinced I need another roll. I take a mindful breath and quietly whisper, “You have enough.”
While looking for a desk organizer for Matt’s new office, I couldn’t resist visiting the candle aisle. Without even thinking, I started to pick out a few new, post-holiday candles before I caught myself. Wait, I have a shelf full of candles in our linen closet. Why on Earth do I need more? Simple answer: I don’t. I backed away slowly, reciting, “Allison, you have enough.”
I could go on and on with stories like this. Things catch my attention. My twitch to buy just sneaks up; all the things are so shiny and lovely! But you know what? I honestly have what I need. I am satisfied. I have enough.
Using this phrase, over and over the last several months, has been a powerful exercise to think twice before I buy. I’ve put back more things than I can count, realizing that I don’t need them. I’ve been able to stop buying stuff I don’t need, because yes, you’re catching on…I have enough.
So you can see why I say my love of things habit is in partial remission. I still feel a frequent pull to buy things I don’t need. But I have a choice in how I respond to this pull, and this simple phrase helps me challenge my longtime love of things, remembering why I started this journey into conscious consumption in the first place.
Talking to yourself is an essential life skill. It’s how you make intentional, healthy choices for your life, even when a tiny part is sure you want all the shiny things.
If you struggle to stop buying stuff you don’t need, no matter how inexpensive or trivial it might seem, try this statement. “You have enough”. You’ll have to repeat it frequently and maybe even whisper it to yourself in times of strong temptation, but I think you’ll find it freeing.
Things are lovely. But having enough and actually recognizing that? Well that’s even better.