Emotions might impede your efforts to live a clutter-free life. There is usually an emotion associated with people’s resistance to part with stuff that no longer has a specific role in their lives. Let’s look at some of these emotions that might be obstructing your efforts to live clutter-free.
When you must keep stuff for their sentimental value
Some items do have sentimental value. When you can keep them in a particular place of honor, that is not a problem. But having too many of these sentimental items, or that everything is so unique, the truth is that nothing is. You won’t pay enough attention to each particular item to honor that special status. Special items get lost in the crowd, and instead of evoking sentimental value, those items become annoyances.
When you can’t get rid of items you received as gifts
Have you been a hostage of unwanted gifts? You might feel guilty about getting rid of something you received as a gift, whether you want it or not, or regardless of not having a proper space to home the item. This guilt probably arises because you don’t want to hurt the gift-giver’s feelings. However, if you follow the same pattern in many instances, you end up with a home where you feel unhappy, given the clutter comprised of so many things you’d rather not have around.
Your home should be your sanctuary, not a storage place for unwanted items. It is essential to learn to separate objects from your feelings for the gift giver. You can acknowledge the gift as an expression of their love for you, but that does not mean the item must remain like a subconscious point of contention between you two. It is also beneficial to look at the matter from the perspective of the gift giver. For that, read our blog about the subject: What Do You Give When You Give A Gift
When stuff represents unfulfilled dreams
Some people don’t want to get rid of things that might symbolize the life or experiences they wished they had but never did. It is common to hold on to things representing what we wish we had done. Karen Kingston calls this “aspirational clutter”.
A clear example is crafting. The amount of new crafts supplies and unfinished projects we find in homes is enormous. However, people can’t let any of those crafts supplies go because in doing so, they would accept that they don’t have time, desire, or the talent to do those crafts. But your home should reflect who you are now, support your goals and be the launching pad to your future. When you hold on to past dreams, you have little to no room for the future. Let go and rest assured that if it is meant to be (that you live those dreams sometime in the future), it will be.
When you paid top dollar for the items
You spend money when you buy something, not when you get rid of it. Keeping something because it costs a lot will not bring back the money spent. Besides, there are many ways for something to fulfill its mission in our lives. When it is time to let that thing go, think about the value it brought to you, recognize it accomplished its mission, and let it free to enhance the lives of others.
Keeping objects that clutter our lives compounds the problem. These items take an emotional toll on you, rob you of time, and cost money. Such things require that you spend time caring for them and money paying for the space they take up in your home or even a storage unit. It all boils down to forgiving yourself for past money mistakes or accepting that not everything continues to have a high value over the years. Understanding this will allow you to get past the emotions and part with the object without guilt.
When you fear you might need the stuff in the future
The fear of needing something in the future and not having it comes from the primal fear of not having enough. It comes from not trusting yourself or others to provide for you in the future. If you could replace the item with a couple of hours of work, let it go. There’s a point and time where you’ve got to take a leap of faith and trust in yourself and your loved ones to help you with things instead of thinking you’re all on your own with no resources or skills.
When you feel the mess is never-ending
When a task is too daunting, it is hard even to start and much more challenging to see its end. This feeling is a widespread occurrence when it comes to decluttering. It also encompasses the phenomenon of “perfection paralysis.” Some people would not start a project unless they are confident the result will be perfect. Unfortunately, that is hardly ever the case; thus, they never start the project.
When a task seems impossibly hard or the desired result unachievable, it is helpful to divide the project into smaller parts and conquer it in chunks. If this still proves too hard to handle, you might want to engage a Professional Organizer to guide you through the process. Having some guidance in the form of a project manager, coach, or even body double can help you see a more straightforward path to completing your project.
If you can identify your source of discomfort with decluttering, you can make significant breakthroughs. You can deal with your emotions, move on, and get rid of the stuff cluttering your life. Understanding and addressing the source of discomfort in parting with things you no longer need can also remove a layer of guilt and emotional baggage you may not have even realized you were carrying around.