When is it just too much? Do you ever look around your environment and feel suffocated by all the stuff? When you’ve accumulated things year after year without releasing some, objects pile up. When you keep adding activities to your schedule without having downtime, you can burn out. Saying yes to everyone and everything is a form of people-pleasing. It can also be a sign of codependency. When you have too much noise in your life and not enough peace and quiet, you can feel inundated and overwhelmed, unable to think clearly.
Essentialism was a term coined by one of our favorite authors, Greg McKeown, who wrote a book by the same name. He took a courageous step in his own life to examine where he was saying “yes” to people, things and activities when his true self wanted to say “no.” When you give yourself away to the agendas around you, you lose your way and eventually begin to feel fragmented and off balance. You lose yourself. People report feeling a sense of malaise when they’ve been engaging in this pattern. Malaise can ease into depression.
Greg was able to begin clearing his schedule of many activities that seemed urgent but ended up being superfluous in reality. He upset people in his life. They didn’t like nor did they understand. This is bravery. In our work in leadership, we call it the “stand alone” competency. You must release yourself from needing validation in order to experience true and abiding freedom.
Friends and colleagues of ours have downsized homes and office to create essentialism. They’ve bought smaller homes with less stuff. They shop less frequently. Many hang nearly nothing on their walls to enjoy the spaciousness of that aesthetic. They say they feel more free and peaceful. While you may not want to emulate what they’re doing, you may want to consider what would work for you. How could a dose of essentialism serve you and your highest good?