Minimalism is removing everything unproductive and toxic from a person’s life, which allows more focus on core values. The unwanted bits and bobs can be possessions, habits, thought patterns, time wasters, and relationships. Especially relationships.
I’m not saying a person must remove everyone “bad” from her life. Rather, it is being aware of which people make a person feel her best, and devoting more time towards those people. It’s making room for more loving and fulfilling interactions. It is also being free of being pressured to spend time with others when a person doesn’t want to. A minimalist view on relationships is to feed the ones that matter, and to not invest too much time and energy to unfulfilling relationships.
An example of this is a couple college friends I had. We had very little in common, and I didn’t enjoy spending time with them. I was always counting down until I could leave. Somehow, they never noticed that we actually weren’t that compatible. Despite how I felt, I was pressured to spend as much time with them as they asked because I was worried about hurting their feelings. Then I learned about minimalism. No, I wasn’t an b*tch about how I felt when I started breaking away from them. Actually, all I did was limit the total amount of time with them. Instead of all day together, it would be an hour or two. With more of my day free, I had more time to do what matters to me, which is doing artsy things and writing.
A bigger example is limiting the amount of time I spent with an abusive relative. When I was younger I did not have as much power in the dynamics of our interactions. But now as an adult I have the option to create some distance. It is much harder to do than these simple words describe, but minimalism helped me start going No Contact with that person. Minimalism woke me up to the fact that as a twenty year old, I have some control over it. My life is much less stressful and much happier when I only have a weekly phone call and a monthly visit with the relative, rather than everyday contact.
The relationships I do have now, I nurture. I try to message my friends everyday, and spend time with them as often as I can. My grandmother and I have become closer as I began to put effort into regular interactions. (My grandmother is one of the only relative I am in contact with) My boyfriend and I value our time together more.
I struggled with loneliness, and it was no wonder why. I ran around giving my time and hope to relationships that would never truly make me happy. When I narrowed down my social circle to people who bring out the best in me, I started to shine. Surrounding myself with people who I love and who inspire me pushes me towards recovery as well, to be the best version of myself.
Minimalism gave me enough insight to let go of unfulfilling relationships to make more room for the ones I have. I’m much happier being surrounded by a smaller group of loved ones than a mob of people who leave me feeling lonely, drained, and unfulfilled. Also, I find I have more enrichment in the relationships I do have, as now I increase my investment in them.
Overall, minimalism is a lifestyle of prioritizing and removing the “clutter” I mentioned.