Emotions might get in the way and prevent you from living a clutter-free existence. 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 obstruct your efforts to live clutter-free.
1. Excessive Sentimentalism
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 sentimental items, or that everything is so unique, the truth is that nothing is. Special items get lost in the crowd, and instead of evoking sentimental value, those items become annoyances.
2. Unwanted Gifts
Have you been a hostage of unwanted gifts? You might feel guilty about getting rid of something you received as a gift. What if you don’t like or need that item? What if you lack the proper space to home that thing? None of that matters — you feel guilty just thinking of letting that item go.
This guilt probably arises because you don’t want to hurt other people’s feelings. However, if you follow the same pattern in many instances, you end up in a home where you feel unhappy, given the clutter of many things you’d rather not have around.
Your home should be your sanctuary, not a storage place for unwanted stuff. Learning to separate a gift from the feelings you associate with the giver is essential. You can acknowledge the gift as an expression of their love for you, but that does not mean the item must remain a subconscious 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: What Do You Give When You Give A Gift?
3. 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 of aspirational clutter is crafting. The amount of new crafts supplies and unfinished projects we find in homes is enormous.
But 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. You have little room for the future when you hold on to past dreams. Let go and rest assured- if you are meant to live those other dreams sometime in the future, it will happen. In the meantime, live and be in the present.
4. Money Paid
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. 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 be 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.
5. Future Needs
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 for less than $30, let’s say, or a couple of hours of work, let it go. There’s a point and time when you must take a leap of faith and trust in yourself and your loved ones to help you with things instead of thinking you’re alone with no resources or skills.
6. Perfection Paralysis
When a task is too daunting, it is hard to start and much more challenging to see the end. This disturbing feeling is a familiar one when it comes to decluttering. It also encompasses the phenomenon of “perfection paralysis.” Some people will only start a project if 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 should engage a Professional Organizer to guide you through the process. Having 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 eliminate 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.
To further explore the topic of clutter and emotions, read: