Mar 4, 2016 · 4 minute read
Deciding to live a simpler life is exciting … for the people who decide to do it.
For those who are close to us, it can be difficult to understand why you’re changing and how it’ll affect them.
On the simplifying journey, support from those we love is something we need the most, but sometimes, it’s the hardest place to get it.
I was reminded of this recently by a snarky comment from a person I love whose support for and understanding of minimalism and the reasons for it are minimal themselves.
Perhaps I’m too sensitive, but it rubbed me the wrong way, probably because it’s not the first snarky comment I’ve gotten about minimalism and simplifying. It got me thinking about how we can bring the skeptics who are closest to us along on our journey, or at least just get them to respect our choices.
You’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do
One of the main reasons for the snarky comments from people is not that they’re trying to hurt us, but that they don’t understand. All they see is you getting rid of stuff and saying no to things and spending less money, and it generates a bunch of questions for them. What are you up to? Who are you becoming? Are you going to leave them behind?
The easiest way to assuage their fears is to have a conversation with them. Explain to them why you’re pursuing minimalism and how simplifying will benefit your life and, importantly, your relationships. Explain that you’ll have less stuff to stress out about and more time to spend with those you love.
And then keep having that conversation, in a very low-key way. Talk often about the positives you’re experiencing along your journey, but try not to get preachy. That’ll just keep them from hearing anything you say.
You might not stop the snark completely or right away, so have some responses prepared so you can answer calmly and rationally. For instance: Friend: Aren’t those cute shoes? They would look great on you. Oh wait, you’re a minimalist. You don’t buy anything. You: I buy only what I need now, and that helps me save money for the things I love to do, like go to lunch with you.
Boom. Snark stopped in its tracks.
Lead by example
You see and appreciate the benefits that living a slow, simple life can give you, and it’s tempting to shout it from the mountain top and to tell everyone why your way of life is far superior to theirs.
But you would never do that, right? Right.
Instead, the best way to help people understand is to show them how your life has improved on this journey. Do you have more time, space, money? Are you doing more fun things? Do you have less stress and debt? Better relationships? Show by example how simplifying your life has made it better.
You may just inspire them to start their own journey. But if not, at least they can see how your life has improved and leave you alone about it.
Concentrate on those who are supportive
Sometimes, you’re just not going to get what you need from some people. No matter how much you explain or demonstrate that your life is better, they’ll judge, and you won’t come out of that judgment a winner.
Maybe they feel judged, like your changes are a direct comment on how what they’re doing in life isn’t working as well as what you’re doing. Or maybe they have a different set of values and really buy into the typical consumerist ideology that you always have to have the newest, biggest, most expensive toy/house/car.
Maybe it’s time to get some new, supportive friends and let go of those whose values don’t align with yours or who don’t respect your choices after you’ve tried the steps above. You don’t have to let go; your relationship might be good for you as it stands, and perhaps you can continue on with it, but you will have to be OK with the snarky comments that might not ever stop.
I’m lucky in that my family members are minimalists to varying degrees, but my friends and boyfriend are not. My journey is a little perplexing to some of them, and while I believe they try to respect my choices, if the snark comes again, I’ll be ready to start a conversation.
How do you get your loved ones to respect your decision to simplify?