The Dark Side of Minimalism, the Upside of Weakness, and the Value of Support

by Dian Reid-Jancic· Follow Dian on

There’s something I’ve been thinking about lately (and I’m not the only one). I’ve been decluttering and decluttering and decluttering some more. For the past year, I’d say. It’s not every day I toss something into the trash or give it away or simply don’t buy it. But now I’m thinking about my behavior when I do these things, as well as once it’s all said and done.

This post is inspired by Danielle LaPorte’s post on the dark side of minimalism, which was included bits of Lianne Raymond’s post on the dark side of minimalism. The part of Lianne’s post  that really sunk its teeth into my brain was:

… if you are purging from the same mindset that you had while procuring – well, that’s just the other side of the same coin, honey.

~ Lianne Raymond


Let me think about this for a minute.

For starters, I think about my email inbox. I think about my Google Reader. I think about my physical mailbox.

Email Inbox. It seems that every month I’m having to sift through and file emails or respond or take action on something that’s been sitting for days or weeks. It feels great purging. But not when I know that I’ll be right back here next month, having to purge again because I didn’t address the real issue. I’ve even created folders for “Take Action” “Follow Up” and “Read Later,” and then one of two things happens: 1. I put something in the folder and then never get back to the folder (out of sight, out of mind); or 2. I forget about the folder entirely and let it sit in my inbox, which creates anxiety every time I look at it, and think, “I don’t have time to get to that right now.”


Google Reader. Every week I feel anxiety at not being able to read every post from every blog in my ‘Wonderful Women’ folder. I hide the number of unread items and sort the list “by magic” so I don’t feel guilty about how many or in which order I read them. But then seeing “Oct 9, 2010” when it’s Oct 27, 2010 reels the guilt right back in. I mean, what’s wrong with me? Why can’t I read these blogs every day? They’re written by Wonderful Women! And ohgod, what about the 10’s of blogs keep meaning to subscribe to in this category?! Every once in a while I’ll just mark everything older than a week as read and start all over again—if I can’t read those, then I have no business subscribing to others! But this doesn’t get at the issue of not making time to read them, or finding a way to not feel guilty if I don’t. And is that even the real issue?


Physical mailbox. When the mail comes every day, I sift for the important stuff like bills and checks and the every-once-in-a-while-personal-greeting-card. And just about every week I end up with a pile of unread mail that I just can’t be bothered to deal with during the week. Most weekends I end up recycling 90% of that pile. And sometimes the weekends are so filled with things I’d rather be doing that it just has to wait until the following week(end). Every now and then I’m really good about it for a week or so, and then back to the same ol’, same ol’. So I have to ask myself, WTF?


Turns out, I’m a procrastinator. I think I’ve known this for a while, and I fear admitting it. I wasn’t always this way. At some point I began to worry about time. I worry about having enough time to finish things, having enough time to start things, having enough time to do things, having enough time to sit and relax, having enough time to think, having enough time to ponder, and then back to having enough time to do all that I’ve been thinking about.

Just do it is a great slogan. As long as I don’t use it against myself for not just doing it.

I’m finding myself in need of exploration into what my deep-seated procrastination is really about. I have a tendency to want to do something to fix it, but first I need to understand it. I need to understand what the real issue is, because the procrastination is just the effect, not the cause.


I fear I’ve shared too much information here, and feel especially vulnerable at sharing my weaknesses. Aren’t these blogs supposed to show strength so we can learn from those strengths? But I know we all struggle with things, so my hope is that by hitting the “Publish” button, I’ll also be hitting the “Support” button. I also know that we all have weaknesses, and believe that those weaknesses, when nurtured and cared for with love and support—rather than shame or guilt—manifest themselves into our greatest strengths. Even if it’s just for a moment.


Let me not purge from the same mindset I’ve procured from, letting it remain the other side of the same coin.

Minimalist image courtesy dnorman, via Creative Commons License.

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Mrswhich October.27.2010 at 6.28 pm


One thing I know – it’s nice to purge once in awhile, but making it a lifestyle might point to a fear that needs to dance. Turns out, I like a bit of clutter – it reminds me that I can be. When I think about the amount of time and energy I have, and the number of incredibly important and interesting places I can put it, I decide to just keep up as I can. I try to be broad and fair across the lesser tiers of importance to my life, and deep and strong on the top tier stuff. Every day. Every choice. It’s a life work. That’s me – I can’t wait to see how things play out for you. Thanks for hitting the publish button.

Dian Reid October.27.2010 at 11.16 pm

Totally nice to purge every once in a while, but the pattern, yes is the fear rearing its ugly head. I don’t mind the clutter every now and then, either. Makes my home feel lived in. Some of this may be about addressing that fear, and then some of it may be as simple as setting up structures to allow consistency in not letting things pile up. I like stuff. Guess it’s time to really figure out what’s behind what stays and what goes.

jess [aka] Pacificlotus October.27.2010 at 6.55 pm

You have my support friend! Awareness is the first step to greater things.Knowing that the purging is just putting a band aid on the problem means that you will grow and truly become free from this obstacle in your life. Just make mini shifts and be honest with yourself about where you are in the process and you will find your way. Just sit in it for a bit and see what you find. xo

Dian Reid October.27.2010 at 11.18 pm

Thanks for the support =). Oh, how I know the brilliance of awareness. And still, sometimes I’m amazed at my humanness. I feel like I’m at the beginning of a process I’ve gone through before, yet somehow this time it’s different. I’m different. But I guess we always are.

Kind of excited to sit in this and just see what’s there. Thanks again, my friend =)

Square-Peg Karen October.27.2010 at 7.52 pm

Dian, I LOVE what you’ve shared here — I love THAT you’ve shared here!! We all have weaknesses – we all have strengths, but sometimes it DOES feel like we’re just supposed to only talk about the strengths.

Yea for support! For me, the times I’ve felt the most support – and the times when I’ve offered the most support (judging from feedback) have been times of sharing weaknesses — seems like we connect most (and support each other most) when one or the other can say “ohmyword, me too!” When people only show up in their got-it-all-together-clothes, they seem unapproachable…

Also I love the respect you show here for the different parts of yourself, when you say that you want to explore your procrastination – not beat it up and try to force it into submission (as if, right?). This post is a beautiful nod to reflection!!

Dian Reid October.27.2010 at 11.21 pm

Funny, I didn’t even realize I was being respectful of myself by not beating up the procrastination (punching it in the neck, as I say) and forcing it into submission (as if! is right. kind of like a square peg into a roun…well, you know ‘o)).

I think I’m always amazed at the strength it takes to reveal the weakness. So easy to talk about sharing it, a different ballgame to do it. Humbling reflection is good for me.

And oh, how I appreciate your support =)

emma October.27.2010 at 10.01 pm

You’ve just described my life.
So happy you did.

Dian Reid October.27.2010 at 11.22 pm

Me too. The email, the reader, the mail … tip of the iceberg is what I’m imagining I’ll find.

xo to you, too =)

Anonymous October.28.2010 at 12.27 am

I love your addition to this thought-train and here is my love and support (and “oh yeah” and “amen”) as you gift us with your strength disguised as weakness. I am a procrastinator (and sometimes hoarder) and I’m learning to love and accept it all…tough path to walk some days.

Dian Reid October.28.2010 at 7.26 pm

SO loved that Abraham-Hicks quote you sent me. I think I’m learning how to draw the line between acceptance and avoidance. Once I learn how, then maybe I’ll learn where …

Whollyjeanne October.28.2010 at 5.41 am

in terms of physical environment and clothes and other tangibles, i broke the purge pattern years ago. it all got to be too much – too expensive, too time-consuming, required too much energy to shop, amass, then cull through and eliminate. now i enjoy having that money in the bank (well, actually, a lot of it’s invested in slackers in the family); less to dust; and more time to spend writing, walking, pondering.

as for my electronic environment, i’m still patting around, trying to find a level of involvement that keeps it interesting and enjoyable. (and yes, i’m still pondering that reunion!)

Dian Reid October.28.2010 at 7.24 pm

Hellz yeah! on that reunion, my friend. I’d really love to just get all us wonderful women in the same room and see what happens. I know it’s easier to get us all on the phone (maybe we start with that), but we’re not about easy, are we =). Plus if we’re all in the same room, there’s free hugs and stuff ‘o)

I think I’m finding that a system is absolutely necessary. I’ve been weaving myself out of structure’s way for going on 4 years now, and in this case, the rebel in me needs to get over herself. Because keeping on the way I’m keeping on, keeps me from embracing a crapload of awesomeness. I think the trick for me will be to create a “random” structure to write and walk and ponder my way through all the awesomeness.

angela October.28.2010 at 7.43 pm

Dian, Thank you for sharing your vulnerability. I’ll remember and really use two profound points from this post: from the beginning–you/I/we have to examine the reasons we acquire and the reasons we purge, and from the end–“publish” = “support.” Important stuff. xo

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