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… women’s reflections on the meaning of their cherished possessions: martin, 2017.

This study reported and considered nine reflective conversations with women about their relationship with their possessions. The first time I read it, it confirmed to me that asking someone to tell you about one of their possessions is a great way to have a meaningful conversation. Try it next time you’re at a bus stop!

As the women speak about particular treasures, we learn what’s important to them, what gives their lives meaning, stories of their achievements, heartaches, relationships. It’s beautiful.

The women talk how their possessions nurture them, connect them with others, affirm their personal experiences, support them through change and help them cultivate a sense of self.

Reading it helps us understand why this process of decluttering, going through our possessions; deciding what to keep and how can be such an emotive experience.

Why did they only speak to women?

Interestingly, existing research indicates gender differences in the way we relate and respond to possessions – men tend to value them for their usefulness or status indicating qualities whereas women tend towards are more emotional connection. It’s that nurturing, emotion connection this study explores.

Martin, S. L. (2017). Nurturing self: Psychotherapeutic implications of women’s reflections on the meaning of their cherished possessions. Qualitative Report, 22(6), 1565–1579

Sadly, the research is not open access. If your library or institution allow, it’s well worth a read.

Here’s the abstract:

Experiencing the importance of one’s personal treasures is ubiquitous to the human experience, but what is the depth and meaning of this lived phenomenon?

An interpretive phenomenological method was used to explore the meaning and significance of women’s experience of their cherished personal possessions. Nine women participated in three individual semi-structured phenomenological interviews each.

Interpretive analysis revealed that women’s experience of their cherished personal possessions is one of nurturing self. Through their cherished personal possessions, women nurture their sense of self by connecting with others, affirming personal experience, supporting self through change, and cultivating a sense of self.

Implications for responsive psychotherapeutic practice with women clients are identified.

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