Possessions: the stories we tell


bedroomWe can attach great personal significance to our thoughts, feelings and things. Sometimes these attachments are conscious – sometimes unconscious. In revealing the stories we attach to our things, we may learn more about what’s truly valuable to us and what we may be hanging onto as a substitute “or stand-in” for something better.

Our stories may reveal ways to discern what to keep and may loosen our attachment to what we don’t want anymore simply by sharing our stories.

We can build mastery, through awareness of the stories we attach to our things, so that we are in possession of our thoughts, feelings and things; and so that our thoughts, feeling, and things do not possess us.


Here’s something you may want to try with a friend you trust, to explore your relationship to your possessions – Gather these items and journal, or invite a friend to ask you these questions:

1. An object you keep simply because it’s beautiful –

Ask: What’s my story about this object? What do I love about it? What’s the value of keeping a beautiful object? How does it connect to my needs or values? What does this object reflect back to me? Where do I keep it? Is it a symbol of something (a belief, feeling, representation of something else?) What have I learned about myself from telling the story of this object?
2. An object you use everyday and can’t imagine being without –
Ask: What’s my story about this object? What do I love about it? What’s useful to me about it? What does it give me?  How do I use it? What does it reveal about what’s important to me?

3. A broken object –
Ask: What’s my story about this object? What’s it got going for it that I keep it around? How many broken objects do I have? What does this object reflect back to me? How long have I kept it after it broke? What do I think I would lose by discarding it?

4. An object someone gave you that you don’t really like but you keep –
Ask: What’s my story about this object?  Do I love the person who gave it to me? What is my discomfort of letting it go? How many objects do I have that I don’t really like? How does it make me feel to have them around? What’s the payoff in keeping them around (this may be uncomfortable to be honest about – but try).

What’s it like hearing your story about these objects?

What do you know about yourself from these stories?
Does keeping these objects help validate some part of you? Do you need to keep them to keep that part of yourself? Can you let go of the object and keep those qualities/values?

What’s it like sharing stories about these objects?
What was the easiest object to find? The hardest?

This examination of your relationship to your things can be a very helpful first step in letting go of what you possess that does not:

1. honor your values or aesthetic

2. serve to give you pleasure from it’s beauty, or pleasure from it’s useful function

3. make you feel good about yourself

Your comments are most welcome!


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