You can’t earn your worth by collecting things. Having stuff can do a lot for you, like helping you to express your personality, enabling you to do your job, making your life easier in some way. It might even make you more interesting to talk to. But it can’t give you worth.
Your worth comes from within – you have value just by being you, we’ve talked about that a lot – and from how you use your potential. You will still be you if your possessions are taken away. You may even be able to experience being you more clearly without them.
This idea might distress you somewhat. After all, things are useful for distracting us from the discomfort or even pain of having to live our lives. Numbing it can help you feel like you can cope with it better. But it can also stop you coping or dealing with things at all. And they can get in the way of you ever getting round to living the life you want to.
It’s hard to know how much stuff to keep. After the war, my grandparents’ generation lived with rationing, having already had to learn to make do and mend, repurposing items in new ways because it just wasn’t possible to get what they needed. Since then, stuff has become more disposable, built to fail and throw away. We’ve not needed to keep every jam jar so we can make our own preserves. But many of us have still lived through a time in our lives when we’ve not had the things we’ve needed, and so the idea of getting rid of a perfectly good (if heavily limescaled and possibly dangerously wired) kettle fills us with guilt or worry that we might need it someday.
I can’t tell you what you need to keep or get rid of in your life. But I do know that you don’t need to keep everything you’ve ever done or seen or loved. Times change, and sometimes an item’s purpose has been served, at least for you. Maybe someone else could get more use out of it. But those items are not you. And whatever you have ever felt for them is not necessarily meant to be forever.
Keeping everything can dilute the joy you get from the things that really mean something to you. It’s like watering down a good wine until you really can’t get any flavour from it at all. The more unnecessary things you have, the less time you have for the good things. You can easily lose your identity in it all, and instead of having a few things that make you happy and help you express who you are, you get a jumble of stuff that ends up making you miserable. So choose them wisely. A good rule I’ve used to help me is to only keep it if you love it or need it. This can’t cover every situation but it can help get you started.
Life is hard enough without amassing great piles of garbage to wade through, tidy up, move around, insure, fix and dispose of – especially when you realise that you actually don’t care about most of it. You’re not your possessions, and if they are not enhancing your life, then make it easier on yourself and get rid of some.