Have you ever found decluttering emotionally overwhelming? Decluttering can be a bit like the five stages of grief. You can find yourself in denial, then your angry, and then you find yourself bargaining your way out of getting rid of anything. You become a genius about making decluttering excuses that keep you from making the progress you really want to make. Trust me, I know. But it doesn’t have to be so hard. For all of your decluttering excuses, there are decluttering answers. Let me help you conquer your excuses for keeping clutter with the reasoning that helped finally let go. I promise you, with a few simple mindset shifts you will find yourself cleaning clutter like never before!
Everyone Makes Decluttering Excuses
You want to declutter your home but you find yourself deciding to keep stuff because you need it, you paid good money for it, or it’s in perfectly good shape. How do I know the decluttering excuses you are making to keep your stuff?
We all find it hard to get rid of stuff. I used to make tons of excuses for why I couldn’t declutter ANYTHING. In fact, I would even say I liked clutter. I kept every gift and every trinket. I collected frills and I adored dust collectors!
One day, when I was about fourteen years old I had a new friend over. I was so excited to show her my room and the first thing she said when she saw it was: “You have WAY TOO MUCH STUFF!”
This honest comment left me devasted. I started telling her why I couldn’t get rid of this and why I had to keep that. It hit me very personally. I even cried.
Needless to say, it wasn’t long after that I started taking a hard look at my excuses and my stuff. I still fall back into those emotionally charged excuses for clutter sometimes but now I know how to answer them! Let me help you do the same.
1: One of my top decluttering excuses: It was a gift!
It was a gift. That was one of my favorite excuses on that fateful day!
I felt that if I got rid of a gift that would mean I didn’t value the person that gave it to me. I felt that it was disrespectful or hurtful.
I started to look around and my room was FULL of gifts. Almost everything was a gift! I felt very lucky but also a little stuck. How was I ever going to declutter if I couldn’t get rid of gifts?
I remembered something my parents had taught me…
“There is more happiness in giving than in receiving.”
The true joy of a gift is in the giving. When I received that gift I was happy that my friend thought of me. As they gave me that gift they were happy to express their love. When I looked at or used that gift I felt fondness towards them.
But getting rid of a gift doesn’t mean that any of that joy goes away. It doesn’t mean that your relationship with the gifter is gone and it certainly doesn’t erase the special place they have in your heart.
So when it comes time to declutter your home you can declutter gifts because their purpose of imparting joy has been fully realized. You can let go because you still have your memories and your friends and that is what you really want to keep!
2: The frugal decluttering excuse: I Can Fix It!
I can fix it! Just a little glue here, a stitch there, and it will be as good as new!
This is the best decluttering excuse…if you are trying to drown in junk! Some of us are very handy and can fix anything! I am a seamstress so I am able to fix most clothing! Since I can fix it wouldn’t it be wasteful to throw it away? “I bought it with my hard-earned money and I can fix it!”
Will I? That is the answer. Sure I can fix it but WILL I? When I get a piece of clothing that I want to put in “mending” I ask myself if I like the item enough to put the work into fixing it.
Will the supplies you need to fix it and the time it takes to fix it be a fair trade for keeping the item? Will you do it right away or let it sit in the fix-it pile?
If you are not passionate enough about the object to fix it promptly then you are better off letting it go. You don’t need to create a black hole of projects to feel guilt and overwhelmed about.
3: It Was Expensive!
This item cost me a lot of money and I didn’t use it as much as I thought I would. It is still worth something. I will try to use it now that I remember it exists!
The cost of an item is one of the most common decluttering excuses I hear from my parents. To be honest, it comes into my mind too. Especially when it’s time to clear clutter that used to be something I saved up money to buy in the first place.
Here’s the answer to that excuse though. While a thing may still be of monetary value its actual worth in your life is directly proportionate to its usefulness in your life. That means that if you have forgotten about it and shoved it in a garage or closet it is absolutely useless and of no value to YOU.
But it could be of value to someone else! If the worth of the item is enough for you to go through the effort of selling it check out this post about how to sell it on Facebook! The cash you get from it will definitely be more useful than the item sitting in the closet!
If, however, you do not find it worth the effort to sell you need to just let it go to donations. Its value to you was served by the times you used it. Be appreciative of the use you got out of it and let it go.
This is also a good way to learn to be very careful and discerning about what you purchase in the future!
4:What if I need it later?
I have not used this item in a long time but what if I need it in the future? Maybe in the future, I will have time to use it or it will come in handy. Maybe I should keep it in case one of my friends need it in the future.
Decluttering excuses are usually born out of fear. We fear what the future holds or we fear scarcity we experienced in the past. That’s why people don’t let go of clutter “just in case” they need it later.
But the reality is our lives and daily habits generally don’t change as drastically as we think they will. That means that what you have been using you will probably continue using and what you haven’t been using will probably continue to be stored away. To help you overcome these “what-if” feelings ask ourselves three questions about the item.
- How long has it been since I needed or even thought of this item?
- Is it helping anyone sitting in the closet or the garage?
- If it can help someone else do I know that person and can I take it to them soon?
I guarantee the answer to the first two questions will tell you that you won’t need this item later. (Seasonal items aside! Of course, you aren’t wearing your ski gear on a regular basis)
If in the future you actually do need that item at least it didn’t weigh you down until you did need it. More often than not what we actually need is the flexibility to move to a new phase of life and not a lot of stuff to haul with us.
As for the third question. Will this help someone I know? If you can think of someone that your item would genuinely help and not burden call them up and make a plan to drop it off to them! You will receive the joy of giving. If you cannot think of anyone but the item may still be useful to someone list it on Facebook or take it to a charity or thrift shop. You will be happy that someone who will actually use it has access to it now!
4: It’s Sentimental
This was my grandmother’s. This was my favorite jacket in high school. This is from my ex-boyfriend. Remember when I bought this for my first apartment? Remember that awesome vacation?! I can’t let it go because of the memories that are tied to it!
Memories are beautiful because they are independent from anything physical. That doesn’t mean that we don’t tie our memories to physical items. We definitely do. And you would be surprised to hear that I am one of the most sentimental people I know. Must be the Italian in me.
The thing is your memories will always be with you.
I realized that the day I cried as we sold my childhood home. I had a beautiful childhood and I grew up in a sweet little house on a street lined with large trees and quaint Victorian homes. When we sold it and I cried for my childhood home I realized that my home would not cry for me or remember me but no matter what, I would always have the memories.
You do not have to get rid of all your sentimental items. You could take pictures of sentimental items before you let them go. That way you can retain the memory aid without keeping a bunch of stuff.
You might also want to consider whether you could choose to keep just one or two items that mean the most to you. Then you can use that item or showcase it in a place where you will see and enjoy it.
If a sentimental item is kept but hidden away it defeats the purpose. One truly special item that you can see is worth so much more than a hundred hidden in a closet.
5: I am just too busy and too overwhelmed to declutter!
I am too busy to tackle such an overwhelming job! I can’t declutter my house because it is just too big of a project and I don’t know where to start or what to do with the stuff! It fits in my house so why worry about it?
Let me tell you I have been there! When we combined homes with my parents there was a lot of clearing clutter to do and not everyone in the house was minimalist. Well, really, only I am. So what did we do? We took it slow and consistently sold items off on Facebook Marketplace or donated them.
The key to decluttering your home is to stay calm and take it slow.
Choose one room and try to get rid of 10 items of clutter in that room. The first time through just let go of things that are obvious like trash and broken items. Then move on till you have done that throughout the house.
The second time you declutter your home, work on letting go of things you don’t use, and eventually when you are ready, let go of things that are sentimental.
Each time you declutter 10 items in the different rooms of your house you will feel lighter! You will see your house looking better and better! You will feel more and more accomplished and every time you feel that way you will be built up stronger to let go of more!
Overcome All Your Decluttering Excuses and Finally Break Free!
Now that you have all the answers to help you overcome your decluttering excuses you can finally break free!
So much of why we hold back from clearing clutter is related to some kind of fear. We may fear what others will think of us without all these things. Keeping things may be caused by a fear that we will have a need in the future. We even fear the past. We may have had very little growing up and we don’t want to repeat that. Or maybe we fear letting go of the past. Sometimes we buy and keep things to cover our fear of sadness or loneliness.
That is why decluttering can be an emotional process. You have permission to take a break when you feel overwhelmed with emotion. Work through those feelings. But please don’t give up! When you finally let go of fear and answer your decluttering excuses you will finally get the freedom and the life you really want!
Let Me Help You Declutter FEARLESSLY!
Wouldn’t it be nice if I could come to your house and help you overcome all the challenges you face when you declutter? I can’t do that but I created a unique 3 step process to help you declutter your home without fear and without overwhelm! I know you can do it! Grab the FEARLESS DECLUTTERING E-book and Printable Pack and get started today!
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Also, two great books to help you declutter your home are The Minimalist Home by Joshua Becker and The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo!