The Emotional Side of Downsizing

Park Roller Coaster
The “how to” of downsizing gets a lot of attention. Preparing for the emotions that are created during this process is just as important. Here are many, mixed emotions you can expect to feel before, during and after you are done. If you look closely at any downsizing project involving both your possessions and your home, you will notice that the timeline can be divided into three phases: Before, During and After. The Before phase includes your early discussions and “what if” talks about the possibilities in your future. This is the time you have the “Why” and “When” talks. You might even toss around some “Where” ideas. As soon as you start doing anything to downsize, you enter the “During” phase. This is where most activity takes place and where most emotions enter the scene. You are now talking about “Where” in specifics as well as “How” and “Who“. Here are just a few of the positive and negative emotions you may experience during the phases.


Book and stuffed bearDepending on why you are moving, you may have positive or negative emotions. If you are downsizing by choice, you have the luxury of time on your side and you will probably be feeling excited about your next home and lifestyle, anticipating all the benefits that downsizing brings you. If you are moving by necessity, you probably have a tight timeline and are feeling anxious and possibly stressed as well. In both cases, working through this closely as a couple or with close friends will help.


Lots of emotions here, for sure!

StressOne of the most common emotions in the “during” stage is being “overwhelmed” because of the amount of stuff you need to deal with in a finite amount of time. Feeling conflicted about what to “keep or toss” is closely related, as is feeling mentally weary due to making choices about stuff and feeling physically “tired & cranky” because of the demanding work of organizing and packing. Feeling pressure is right up there too, usually because of the moving deadline.

You may be feeling happily nostalgic as you recall all the family events that took place in your home, especially if you have lived there for a long time. As you walk through the home, while you take mental pictures (or real pictures) of your home as it is, you will remember such meaningful events such as family gatherings, graduations, bridal showers, birthday parties and back-yard fun. Your home is really a “memory museum”, often generating positive emotions from memory associations with people. However, when you see the home empty, it does not have the same effect on you. It is the combination of stuff and space that brings back memories of people and events.

After you have dealt with your stuff and prepared your home for sale, you will enter another emotional phase. You are probably feeling quite satisfied with how good the home looks in its decluttered state. However, you may also be feeling some of these emotions: confused about the process; anxious about your home’s selling price and closing date and uncertain about how everything will fit in the next home.


Relaxing Herbal Tea

After your home has sold and you have moved to your new location, your emotions will probably be on the upswing again with lots of positive feelings such as these:
* Content with a simpler life in your new environment
* Delighted with the amount of free time you have gained
* Happy that you (possibly) don’t have to contend with stairs anymore
* Freedom from stuff and responsibilities
* Comforted that you have (hopefully) reduced expenses
* Relieved that the pressure of deadlines is gone


See what you have to look forward to?

Find out how to keep in touch with Downsizing Help by clicking on Subscription Choices in the top menu bar. A new post is released every Sunday at 2 p.m. EST.

Unless otherwise credited, all posts are happily authored in quill & pen by …
Paul Ferri, Broker
RE/MAX Unique Inc. Brokerage*
Toronto, Canada
*Each office independently owned and operated


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