After watching a video with my mom recently, we started talking about anthropomorphizing. My observation of the video was that the animals were being credited with some human characteristics. She agreed and commented sometimes we go out of our way to avoid recognizing “human” characteristics in animals and shared an experience she’d had. She observed some elk sliding down a hill, front legs splayed in front of them while their haunches was on the ground. Now, even that is cute, but after they got to the bottom of the hill, they jumped up and ran back to the top and did it again. They were sledding, it was play – this served no other purpose.
Yeah, so what does this have to do with organizing?
Anthropomorphizing isn’t limited to animals. We can view our belongings with a certain amount of personality. We might be reluctant to throw things away or even give them away. This always makes me think of The Velveteen Rabbit, where a toy can become real once it’s owner really and truly loves it.
What we tell ourselves about our stuff affects how we deal with it. Some people throw things out easily once they’ve lost their usefulness while others have a hard time parting with them at all. And this is just talking about when the things might need to leave – what about how we treat our belongings while they are in our possession?
There’s another argument that a certain amount of anthropomorphizing could be helpful. If you loved your keys and cell phone, you be less likely to misplace them. You’d be conscious of them and where you laid them down – mindful of how you treated them, maximizing their chance to be useful.
If you valued your things as if they personality, or maybe more that they had a job to do – to help you – you might want to help them accomplish this.
- Your papers – accessible and logical so you can find what you need when you need it.
- Your clothes – arranged and easy to access whenever you want
- Your dishes – clean and ready to be used whenever you need
- Your photos and memorabilia – available when you want to share it with someone or even to take a trip down memory lane for yourself
- Your jewelry – if you know where all of it is, you can wear it when you want
- Your décor – pleasing and rewarding for you so that you would smile as you walk through your home
- Your random lost items – peace at being able to find exactly what you need when you need it
- Your “whatever” – to make your life simpler and more enjoyable
Show your things your compassion and care so they can help you – the give and take that relationships require. And even if we think of it differently, we do have relationships with things, so let’s nurture that.
Once your things have stopped helping you, it’s time to let them move on. If appropriate, moving them onto someone else who can appreciate what they have to offer. What better blessing that gifting that usefulness to someone else? If they’ve outlived their ability to serve, then simply letting them go.
If our things had feelings, I imagine they’d be sad to become clutter since they served us so well, that’s not what they would want. If you want a more magical approach, in The Velveteen Rabbit, although it looks like a dire end to a well-loved toy who sheds a real tear as he’s about to be burned (the boy had Scarlet Fever), the Nursery Magic Fairy comes, kisses him, and makes him a real rabbit – who the boy sees romping in the wild and thinks of his old toy. Even with things, it is still a relationship – what would you do to treat that relationship with care and respect?