Do you own your stuff or does your stuff own you?


Melissa Martin, Ph.D.



Humans love stuff — all kinds of stuff. Small, medium, large. We love different sizes of stuff. We just love our stuff.

But, do you own your possessions or do your possessions own you? Think about it.

Our houses, garages, attics, basements, and sheds are full of stuff. Then, we rent storage space for the rest of our stuff. And we visit it, to make sure its safe. We don’t want our items stolen, so we buy special locks.

Boxes, baskets, bins. We need containers for our stuff. Knick-knacks, bric-a-brac, ornaments. We like shelves, cabinets, and lockers for our stuff. We desire walk-in closets for our stuff and lots of storage places and spaces.

We install security systems and put up surveillance cameras to protect our stuff. Fences surround our property and we add a dog to guard our stuff.

On holidays, birthdays, graduations, and special events, we buy more stuff for people or we receive more stuff from people. Gifts, gadgets, gismos.

Glass, granite, ceramic, marble, metal, plastic, wooden, fabric — we love stuff made out of all kinds of elements. Gold, silver, platinum — we adore our jewelry. Diamonds, rubies, sapphires. We purchase insurance to replace our stuff in case it’s stolen or lost.

Some individuals make room for bigger trophy cases to display more memorabilia, collector items, and awards. More things.

We put televisions, computers, and gaming systems in every room. We don’t like to take turns with our stuff. Each family member gets their own cell phone, laptop, and tablet.

We remodel our kitchens for more cabinet space, so we can add more stuff. We like cupboards and cubbies for our things. Hodgepodge, mismatch, miscellaneous.

And when we leave our homes, we carry our stuff in handbags, wallets, backpacks, suitcases, and duffle bags. We are fond of pants with pockets because we can carry our stuff around. Chewing gum, coins, tissues. A pocket knife, lipstick, mints.

And when we have babies, our diaper bags are packed full of stuff — every item we would ever need if stranded on a desert island. A parent’s purse is packed with products for toddlers. And toys galore lay on the floor. We turn our children into mass consumers who love stuff, too.

When we go on vacation, we disguise our homes with lamp timers to fool burglars. Don’t you dare steal our stuff! Police officers patrol neighborhoods to protect our stuff.

Companies deplete the planet’s natural resources to make more stuff for consumers. Malls stock all the newest stuff. Amazon.com offers discounts, incentives, and free shipping, so consumers will purchase more stuff. Thingamajigs, doohickeys, and doodads.

Then we donate our old stuff to thrift stores, so we can buy new stuff. Junk, clutter, cast-offs. Or we sell our stuff at yard sales to make room for new stuff.

Some things we need and some things we want. But, do you have stuff or does stuff have you?

I have a fondness for books, globes, and maps. Enjoyment comes from visiting bookstores, antique shops, and specialty boutiques. Picking up nostalgic items from Flea markets spark surreal memories. Heirlooms passed down through generations keep history alive in our living rooms. Lifetime collectors garner satisfaction from rare findings. Humans form emotional connections to possessions; especially, items given to us by our loved ones who have passed away.

And growing up, my daughter had too many toys; too many clothes; and too many shoes. Television commercials bombard our children with must-have messages about stuff.

As a therapist, I’ve conversed with aging individuals about detaching from earthly wares. Stuff won’t fit into caskets. Beloved belongings are bequeathed to family members, friends, and charities. And sometimes, auctioned off to strangers.

Hold on — it’s okay to own stuff; things you need as well as things you don’t need. But, do you own your possessions or do your possessions own you?

If things own you, it’s time to pry your fingers off. And step away from your stuff.

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Melissa Martin, Ph.D.

Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, self-syndicated columnist, educator and therapist. She resides in Scioto County, Ohio. www.melissamartinchildrensauthor.com.

Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, self-syndicated columnist, educator and therapist. She resides in Scioto County, Ohio. www.melissamartinchildrensauthor.com.