If asked to name a multi-billion industry today, what comes to mind? Probably Amazon, Starbucks, or McDonalds to name a few —  retail, coffee, or fast food. But would you have named one industry whose revenue in 2018 was over 38 billion dollars? Which one is that?  

It is the self-storage industry. In the beginning, units were for temporary use, but now we are told that 52% of the rentals are for a year or longer, and that 62% of those who rent storage space also have a garage, 32% have a basement, and who knows about attics? But the industry is still growing.

So, what motivates this love affair with “stuff”?  

Well, there are probably many rationales we use:

  • More makes me feel more successful.
  • Well, the Jones have it.
  • I might need it someday.
  • I can’t part with this treasure.
  • I’m saving it for the kids.

Any of the above sound familiar? You mean more is how we ‘measure “success”? When is “someday”? Emotional attachment? Take a picture. Have you asked your kids what they really want? 

Seriously, have you ever watched “Storage Wars,” a successful TV show which annually auctions off the contents of storage units, the contents of which were stored for all the above reasons, but were apparently forgotten, neglected, or abandoned?

Now the relevancy of the above thoughts transitions me to a more difficult topic, the non-material “stuff” we hold on to, that which we keep in our personal “storage units.”  Things like:

  • They hurt my feelings.
  • He let me down.
  • She did not meet my expectations.
  • I don’t forgive.
  • They are all alike. 

We could add worry and fear to the list, but the common denominator is the hostility, anger, and bias that we rationalize and justify holding on to. You say. “Well, at least I don’t pay rent on my personal “storage unit!” Really? Maybe not in dollars, but certainly in effort and peace of mind.  It takes work to “nurse and rehearse” these attitudes. Nelson Mandela reminded us of this with his “…drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” Yes, there is a cost… missing out on relationships and experiences, wasted energy, deaf and blind to the joys that would enrich us. More importantly, the cost makes us less capable of being who we were created to be. Our growth is negated physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Now any suggestions if we plead guilty? Well, avoid being on “Storage Wars,” and call a Habitat for Humanity store or give to a needy family. Probably tougher is to do an honest audit of what we are storing mentally whatever the reason, for none of them are good enough to maintain. They are all detrimental to our health and well-being. Get rid of them! Just let it go!

The result is truly liberating. So maybe, just maybe, it would be smart to empty both storage units!