Steve Harper

It’s normal to feel attached to your possessions. Try as you might to think that your stuff is just stuff, it’s not — there’s a psychological reason why everything you collect in life means so much.


As a result, it can be difficult and even overwhelming to pack up for a move.

We’re sharing some helpful psychology to help you understand your attachment to the things you own and perhaps help improve the mood of your move.

Stuff: it’s how you identify with home
There’s a rather complex psychological reason why we go through life collecting possessions and then arranging them carefully in our homes. As Julie Beck describes in The Atlantic, the objects we collect and display are powerful symbols of who we are and where we’ve been in our lives.

That collection of seashells you cherish? They’re not just decor; they’re memories from the wonderful family vacation you took to the Oregon Coast. The miniature Empire State Building that’s sitting on your mantle? It’s a reminder of the early years of your professional life that you spent trying to “make it” in New York City.

According to Beck, Western culture values moving around a lot. We perceive from a young age that we’re always supposed to be striving to move to a newer, better and bigger home. And as a result, we may not form a deep attachment to our actual homes, but we do become attached to the objects we carry with us as we “trade up.”

What do we do when all of this baggage makes moving seem daunting? Understanding our personal attachments with possessions may well be the key.

More on packing smart:

Move with respect for your memories
Given that the objects we possess mean so much to us, it’s not hard to see why the process of packing up and moving can be psychologically difficult for so many people.

Only you can determine the time you’ll need to prepare yourself for the transition. These tips, however, might help you break down the moving process into segments so it doesn’t seem quite so hard. Every journey — even moving — begins with a first step.

  1. Start now. The minute you know you’re moving, do something to kick off your move — anything as long as you take that one first step. Whether it’s calling around to get moving quotes or decluttering your apartment, you’ve got to make yourself start the process sooner, rather than later, so you don’t leave everything for the last minute. This will also aid the emotional process of moving.
  2. Gently “edit” yourself. A move gives you the chance to determine which of your things are truly most meaningful. Don’t move the stuff you don’t need! Give yourself plenty of time to toss broken and old items, and donate usable items to charity before you move. You’ll feel good that you’ve cleared the clutter and helped others in the process.
  3. Get the right moving supplies. You’ll feel prepared if you’ve got all the tools you need to pack your valuables for safe passage. Before you start, make sure you have everything you need: boxes, tape, labels, bubble wrap and any special protective materials for electronics, antiques and breakables.

When you choose to live in a place, you both alter that place with your presence and are altered, as well. The special things you bring with you when you move help keep your past home living experiences alive.

Photo credit: Shutterstock / wavebreakmedia




About The Author

Steve Harper enjoys seeking out and writing about topics that matter to renters for the Apartment Guide Blog. He hails from Atlanta, Georgia. Find Steve on Google.