Living with a non-minimalist – what to do?

Wouldn’t it be nice if our friends and family would join us on our minimalist journey? Life would be so much easier!

But as we all know, we’re all different and what is important to you may not be important to someone else – so the big question is how can we deal with the frustration of living with non-minimalists and second, if there are some ways we can encourage them to grow without putting pressure on them or making them feel like they’re not enough.

When I started simplifying, I was lucky enough that my husband followed my footsteps, and so did my sister and her boyfriend.

That is why I asked them about their point of view and I included their insight into everything that I’ve written so that this article can be as helpful as possible.

Now let’s dive in…

LET’S START WITH YOU

Keep in mind that we don’t have the power to change other people, but we can always change ourselves – so that is where we should start.

So as much as we want to get angry or frustrated with people around us, we have to check ourselves first to make sure that we’ve done all that we can before we go on and focus on them.

1. REVISIT YOUR GOALS

No matter how long you’ve been on your minimalist journey – it’s time to sit down again and revisit the reasons you started simplifying your life in the first place.

Take as long as you need, and once you’re happy with everything that you’ve written down, it’s time to ask yourself the next question:

“Can I have/be all of those things even if my partner/family member doesn’t join me on my minimalist journey?”

This is a powerful question so make sure you’re honest with yourself. Sit with your response and gently think about it.

2. IF THE ANSWER IS YES

Great! This means you’re free to focus on yourself because you know that it’s up to you to create changes in your life so that you can become light and happy.

But you still have to figure out what these changes are so that you can apply them to your daily life.

To help you with this here is a food for thought:

“Very often, when we’re frustrated with other people about a certain thing, this thing is usually a trait or a habit that we have. So actually, we’re upset and frustrated with ourselves.”

So how can this information help you?

You can use it as a mirror, so you know which areas to work on:

  • If someone doesn’t want to let go of something – ask yourself it there are some things you can’t let go of? And then let go of them.
  • If someone doesn’t want to clean after themselves – ask yourself if you do the same? And then find a solution so you start cleaning after yourself.
  • If someone doesn’t want to make a change in their lives – ask yourself if you’re hesitant as well? And then make a move despite your fears.

I use this idea very often because it helps me to shift perspective from other people to myself – and as I said before, this is where the power lies.

“The only person that can make you happy is you.”

3. IF THE ANSWER IS NO

Now let’s cover the other possible answer.

What can you do if you think “I’ve done all I possibly could and the other person just doesn’t want to budge and it frustrates the hell out of me?”.

PUT YOURSELF IN THEIR SHOES

If you know this person has trouble following you, they have difficulty decluttering or following through with their plans, then do your best to understand what is truly holding them back because only this way, you can find the right way to approach them.

And if you’re lost with this question – talk to them. Ask them why they don’t want to try simplifying and if they have any fears or concerns?

Maybe even they don’t know answers to these questions and this way you can find them together.

ENCOURAGE THEM AND TAKE IT SLOW

Maybe the other person feels overwhelmed and doesn’t know where to start – so reassure them that you’ll be with them along the way and they can turn to you whenever they need to.

Also, let them know that any progress they make is great! Whatever they do, even just clean out one drawer is a step forward.

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” – Martin Luther King

ARE YOU DANGLING THE RIGHT CARROT?

Another thing to consider is that the benefits that you experienced on your minimalist journey are not exciting to them – or in other words, think about ‘the carrot’.

People start simplifying for many different reasons – and if someone said to me that I should try minimalism to save money or so I can travel more, I wouldn’t care.

But when I heard you could improve your style, buy fewer pieces of better quality and live in an organised, beautiful home – now that’s when I responded. That is when I wanted to try it.

So maybe you need to show them there are some other benefits to minimalism that perhaps you don’t care about, but they will respond to.

REWARD

But what if they don’t care about anything that minimalism has to offer? In this case, you can think of another reward.

As humans, we want to avoid unpleasant experiences and pursue pleasant ones – use this knowledge to your advantage.

What does the other person want? Maybe a trip somewhere? Or an experience? Maybe they can sell their old stuff and use that money to buy something they wanted for a long time?

This is a simple but helpful idea, so try it!

LEAD BY EXAMPLE

Sometimes, the best thing we can do is to simply do our best on our journey and hope that the other person recognises how much lighter, happier and joyful we’re becoming.

And then with time, maybe they’ll want to try it for themselves.

This may sound pretty simple but honestly, this is the biggest reason my husband and people around me joined – they saw how much freer I was so they started experimenting with minimalism too.

LET GO

With everything being said, as much as I believe we can inspire and encourage others, it should not be our job to try to make them change. 

We can support and help them, but that’s it – they have to do the rest.

“You can lead the horse to water but you can’t make him drink.”

All of the above will only work if the other person wants to cooperate – and if they don’t, that’s their decision to make. So as much as we want others to join us, we have to let go of the expectations that they will.

And quite frankly, if your only ‘problem’ in the relationship is minimalism, then you shouldn’t really worry. But if minimalism is just a surface issue masking a bigger one, that means you have to dig deeper.

4. WHEN IN DOUBT, FOCUS ON YOURSELF

This is a complex topic to cover, so if you don’t know where to start or you feel overwhelmed, then the best thing you can do is to focus on yourself.

Work on your feelings and issues, try to understand which buttons you have and why some things irritate you so much?

The more awareness you have, the freer you become.

I hope this article helps you and let me know your thoughts on this subject and what are some of your experiences with inspiring others to join you 🙂

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