As you become more serious about downsizing, you will begin to face certain uncomfortable questions and emotions. You may be intimidated to start because of the fear, frustration or flat out uncertainty of how to begin. But, downsizing is not meant to cause fear or worry. Instead, it is a good opportunity for you to take stock of how your items match your new lifestyle and cull the worthless ones. To help you on the emotional side, let’s address some of the questions that you should have clear answers to, before we begin the serious downsizing.

the emotional side of downsizing

What is your passion or reason for downsizing? Is there a way you can remind yourself of it?

Keep in mind that you are going through this process for a reason. You have a lifestyle change on the horizon, and you are ready to step in to that new season of life, wherever that leads you. When Chris and I were in need of renewal during the process, we would sit and look at photos of all the places we wanted to see for ourselves. We stopped researching and reading about what others did or suggested and making to-do lists; and we just sat and viewed photos of the national parks, the American West, the Oregon Trail, the Rocky Mountains, the Sonoran Desert,  and the High Plains. That was our passion, and that is what kept us moving forward.

If you find yourself at the very beginning stages of considering RVing, then the process of downsizing and the overall commitment needed to make this kind of change may seem overwhelming. But, I truly believe that the reason for the overwhelm is because people are putting undue pressure on themselves. Either you or your spouse may not be sure that they will enjoy fulltime RVing, and the thought of selling their home and committing to five or ten years on the road is not very reassuring. Of course not! RVing is usually just a season of life, trying to figure out whether it will work for you for ten years is most likely impossible. You won’t really know how you do as a fulltime RVer until you try it! Stop excusing yourself from trying it because you are setting the bar way too high (or long in this case), and please do not put that kind of pressure on your spouse either.  Instead, take a much smaller approach. Consider fulltime RVing for a few months. Don’t sell the house. Just try it out. That will give you a good taste of whether or not you like it. Also, do consider renting your home while you RV. That will take selling your house off of your plate and also make downsizing an easier process. Yes, Chris and I sold our home, but that was before we had any idea that we would be RVing, and it was for reasons that had nothing to do with RVing. When we did decide to RV, we set out to make it 3 months on the road. We had no RV experience (not even one night), and we were really using RVing as a method to reach our real goal of traveling the U.S. After 3 months, we realized that we enjoyed it even better than we thought, so the journey continued; but we have met people at campgrounds who were trying it out and finding that RVing did not meet their expectations. Trust me, if RVing does not work out for you, you will NOT be the first person with that experience. What is the worst that could happen? You don’t like it, and you go back to the life you have now. Not a big deal. But you already know what your current life is like, this is your chance to embark on a new season of life. You will never know what fulltime RVing is like unless you try it. So, don’t build the process or your expectations in to an insurmountable mountain. And consider reading our article on “Why You Should RV” to help give you some perspective for yourself.

What do you really need?

To help you with this question, consider the space you are moving in to. To help you, take photos of the new space, count cabinets/shelves and consider the storage areas. Do whatever it takes for you to have a good visual of the space, whether that be an RV, a smaller home, an apartment or whatever you are moving in to. If you are truly downsizing or moving in to an RV, each item you classify as needed will come at a cost. The cost will be the space it takes from another needed item. Be honest with yourself about the space you have to work with and what you truly need.

What is your emotional investment in your items?

Don’t let the emotional side of downsizing get you down. You don’t have to give away that one item from your great-grandmother. Keep it. I did. But, ask yourself if you need to keep ten things from your great-grandmother. Wouldn’t it be a nice blessing to give the other nine things to other family members?

It is not just heirlooms that will prove to have an emotional attachment, but also the fact that you worked hard for the items you have and at one point, you thought that each item was worth the investment of work, time, energy and finances to purchase. That can be hard to face. I have three suggestions for you if you are struggling with this. 1. Remember that you are downsizing for a reason. Think about the new opportunities that lie ahead. If you are downsizing to RV, reflect on the amazing travels you are going to have. Find your passion again, and use that to help motivate you.  2. Think about how the items in question could be a blessing to others. Although an item is losing its value to you in your new lifestyle, it may be valuable to others. Make a gift of it.  3. Consider getting a second opinion from someone who is not as emotionally invested as you are. Ask a friend for some perspective on items that you are struggling with.  4. Remember that anything you are planning to keep must have a home. For us, we ended up with a few boxes of items in my parents’ garage. If you don’t have a free storage option, then truly consider what it will cost to store your items. Are they really worth keeping?

What is the real value of your items?

What you think an item is worth, and what others think an item is worth may be two completely different numbers. This can make downsizing emotional, because you may not want to get rid of items for less than what you think they are worth. I want to challenge you to not fall in to this rut, because you are setting yourself up for keeping unnecessary items that you will probably have to pay to store, which will make your investment in them greater and most likely make their value sink lower. Instead, there is a lesson to be learned here. Sell or donate the items and move on, but remember this feeling the next time you feel the need to buy an item. Ask yourself, “What will it be worth to resell?” You may find yourself approaching buying much differently.

We hope that these questions have helped to clear some of the fog of anticipating downsizing from your mind. Be encouraged that downsizing is nothing new, thousands of people have done it before you and thousands will after you. You are not alone in the process, and there will be an end to it and a new season ahead.


Downsizing getting you down? Let us know about your experience in the comments.




About Jen

I love travel, which led me to become a fulltime RVer. I love wellness, which I can talk about 'til the cows come home. I love being self-employed, which means I get to dabble in what interests me from essential oils to RV planners. But most importantly, I love my husband and our life together on the road!

4 comments on “THE EMOTIONAL SIDE OF DOWNSIZING (Downsizing 101)

  1. We will be living in our rv for 6 summer months this year and 6 summer months the year after, in the winter of that second year we will take 2 months down south to see if we like the traveling parts. Thanks for your blogs.

  2. Your articles are really helpful! The emotional part is the hardest and can make our “stuff” feel like a heavy weight. I hope to feel lighter as we make progress.

    • Thank you, Ginny! You are right, and I know that I felt lighter and the process got easier the further along we were. Best wishes to you!

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