Often we get excited about decluttering our things and living with less, but then we end up stuck. We come across things that are difficult to get rid of for a variety of reasons. These 5 tips will help you deal with decluttering guilt!
5 TIPS TO DEAL WITH DECLUTTERING GUILT
Whether you’re brand new to decluttering, or you’ve been decluttering your home for months. There’s a good chance you’ve found yourself in a decluttering rut at some point.
It’s very common to feel guilt while decluttering, so here are some tips to help work through that!
DECLUTTER THINGS YOU SPENT MONEY ON
One reason we feel decluttering guilt is when we want to declutter things we spent money on.
I am very careful with how I spend my hard-earned money. So when I purchase something and then later realize I don’t want/need it, I feel guilt for “wasting” money.
But here’s the thing. By holding onto those items, you won’t get the money back. That money is already spent.
Keeping the item in your house only brings up more guilt every time you see it!
When you finally remove the item from your home you can FORGIVE yourself for that purchase, and move on!
LEARN FROM THE EXPERIENCE
Decluttering has taught me so much about what I think I like and what I actually like.
Those hard decluttering moments actually become incredible learning experiences!
Ruthlessly decluttering the items I own has really taught me to think long and hard before making any purchase!
DECLUTTER ITEMS YOU NO LONGER USE
Sometimes we feel guilt for no longer using an item. Maybe it’s because we spent money on that item or maybe it’s because we wish we still used that item.
It might be clothing that no longer fits, hobby items we hoped we would use, or furniture we have no use for.
It’s ok to grow and change. It’s ok if you no longer want or need something that you once enjoyed.
Decluttering those items allows us to move on past that stage of our life, and experience growth!
Decluttering items that were gifted to us is likely one of the most common situations where we deal with guilt while decluttering.
PROACTIVELY DEAL WITH GIFT GIVING
The best way to deal with this is proactively. Before your next birthday or the next holiday, talk to your friends and family and explain to them that you are trying to have less things in your home.
Give them a list of things that you actually need or want, or just request that they spend time with you!
I wrote an entire blog post about dealing with gift giving as someone who is pursuing a more minimal life!
But of course, if you’re dealing with decluttering gifts that have ALREADY been purchased, that’s not going to help.
DECLUTTERING GIFTS YOU’VE RECEIVED
To be honest, what I usually do with gifts that I don’t love is place them somewhere in my home where the gift giver will see it when they visit. They’ll be happy to see that you’re using and enjoying it!
Then after a few months, I’ll declutter the item without guilt.
I look at it like trying a new food at someone’s house even though you know you won’t like it.
If the item was gifted to me more than a year ago, I’ll just declutter it without feeling guilty. The reality is that most people don’t keep a mental checklist of every gift they’ve ever given you and ensure that you’re using it.
In fact, most people probably don’t even remember what gifts they have given you over the years!
I think we overthink this aspect of decluttering and make it a much bigger deal than it needs to be!
DECLUTTER SENTIMENTAL ITEMS
Sentimental items are another area we deal with decluttering guilt. Sentimental items can include things like childhood trophies, toys, items from your wedding, travel souvenirs, airplane tickets.
Some of us are more sentimental than others. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being sentimental or wanting to hold onto some items!
But maybe you don’t have space to store several boxes of sentimental items, or you just don’t want to.
There are ways you can declutter your sentimental items without guilt!
Ask yourself some questions:
- Does the item actually bring back good memories?
- Would you forget those memories without the item?
- Can the items be organized or displayed better?
- Could I use the item instead of storing it in a box?
- When was the last time you thought about that item?
- Does the item itself bring you joy?
- Would someone else enjoy the item more?
Maybe limit your childhood items to one small box. Keep the things that are the most important to you, and get rid of items that feel like clutter.
Use sentimental items as decor! Instead of having your wedding guestbook sit in a box in your basement, maybe you can display it somewhere!
If airplane tickets and postcards are really important to you, maybe organize them in a scrapbook that you can actually enjoy!
DON’T FORCE IT
There have been times in my decluttering journey when I’ve felt pressured by the “minimalism community” to declutter everything that isn’t an absolute necessity.
But I disagree with that!
Don’t force yourself to get rid of things that you want to keep.
Yes, challenge yourself and ask yourself hard questions. But also trust yourself.
If you’re not ready, or just don’t want to get rid of an item. Don’t! It’s not a competition and there aren’t any rules!
Sometimes the guilt we deal with while decluttering is actually guilt that we feel like we need to get rid of more.
Declutter at your own speed and don’t feel like you have to do anything you don’t want to do!
I hope you feel encouraged to continue decluttering your home and empowered deal with guilt while decluttering.
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