Decluttering brings up lots of emotions – and none that are harder than feeling guilty about letting things go. There are 5 main types of decluttering guilt – let’s take a look at how to deal with them all now.
William Morris famously said “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” but how many of us actually adhere to this, very sensible rule?
We all have items in our house that we feel we should / we need / we ought to keep – for many different reasons.
But are they actually helping you enjoy your home?
If you walk around your home and see things that actually you may not like or that are taking up too much space, then you will automatically feel down about the space.
Its this that we want to avoid if at all possible. If we can really get into the mindset of William Morris, and only keep things we love or truly need, then we will naturally have less, have to clean less, and feel more free – and what could be better than that!
In this post I want to look at the most common ways that people feel guilty about when they want to get organised and start to declutter – and see if we can create a mindset shift for each one.
Do any fit you and your home?…
Decluttering guilt Reason 1 – Don’t want to throw it away
Wasting things seems like a waste – literally!, and some people just can’t face throwing things away for this very reason.
But getting rid of things doesn’t have to mean throwing them away, far from it (as long as they are still in good condition of course).
Here are a few ways to get rid of things while still making them useful to someone:-
- Donate to a charity shop
- Give to friends who need the items
- Sell on eBay (or similar site) and make some money back from the things you don’t want any longer
- Car boot sale
One persons trash is another persons treasure
Also – another way of thinking about the items that fall into this category are that they are actually as good as landfill in your home if you are not using them and they are dragging you down, if you think things are rubbish, then why keep rubbish in your home? – why would you want part of your home to be as good as the bin?!
This thought alone may be enough to start the ball rolling and give you a little motivation.
Decluttering guilt Reason 2 – Don’t want to waste my money
How many of us have bought things on a whim?
Clothes that we never wear, toys that are never played, jewellery and accessories never taken out of the box – I could go on and on.
The actual shopping trip may have been fun, but you are left with a sense of guilt about spending the money, and therefore think that keeping the items shows it wasn’t actually a waste really.
Basically – think about it another way – you have ALREADY SPENT THE MONEY. The money has gone. You have already done the waste part of this, so you need to move on and learn from this.
Usually it’s too late to get a refund, because it will take you a while to convince yourself that you really won’t use the item. You may think that you will use it in a few months, so it will sit in a cupboard and probably be forgotten about in the meantime. This is no good to anyone.
If you can tackle your unnecessary spending before it happens, then you won’t have to feel this guilt again.
So just get rid of the items that are causing you to feel this way, and move on – you will feel better for it.
Decluttering guilt Reason 3 – It was a present
This can be the hardest thing to deal with because it involves lots of emotions and other people.
But think about it this way – people don’t give presents to others expecting anything in return.
They are given to make the receiver feel good.
If you truly don’t like a gift, then accept it graciously (this is the part that really counts), and then think about a way that you could use the gift to give someone else happiness.
Think about creating a re-gifting box – any presents that you receive that you won’t use or don’t like can be put in here and given to someone who you think would really appreciate it at the appropriate time.
TIP – Please label all unwanted gifts in the box with who gave you it originally – it would be awful to give them it back at a later stage….
Whatever you think, your loved ones don’t come to your home and scan it to ensure that their presents are on show somewhere. People actually very rarely remember themselves what they bought for others as time passes. If you are truly concerned about it though, why not keep for a short while, and slowly take out of the house over time – everything changes, and no-one would expect you to keep things forever.
The other way of dealing with gifts such as this is to be honest with the giver. Now this really depends on who gave it to you, but close family or friends often would much prefer to know that you returned it and got something else with the money.
I have lost count of the times I have received a present with a gift receipt attached – people genuinely love to give presents that people really want – so they would prefer to see you with something you love at the end of the day (but giving a present is much more thoughtful than a simple voucher). See if honesty really is the best way to deal with something.
Also – think about next year, what happens if you get something you don’t want/like again and again – best to be honest!
Decluttering guilt Reason 4 – It has so many memories
If we kept every sentimental item we ever had, then we all wouldn’t be able to move around our homes. That first pair of shoes, those letters, that outfit you wore when you got engaged – etc……
Everything we own has an emotional attachment to it usually – so we’d never throw things out again.
Thats no way to live.
What I suggest is to have a memory box
A memory box can be as big or little as you like, but should ideally be of a size that you can lift easily, be secure and kept in a place that things won’t get damaged.
Add in anything that truly has memories for you that you want to keep but aren’t suitable to display. Then simply add in things as they come along.
Each year have a look through and take out anything that doesn’t have sentimental value any longer (that happens a lot!), and you should be able to keep on top of it, while having a fantastic record of your life in that box.
That way you really shouldn’t have to keep everything.
TIP – Take photos of larger items and add these in – this saves on the bulk that often comes with sentimental clutter, and you still have a memory of that item which is usually enough.
For anything else, display what you can (I am a firm believer that artwork and anything on shelves should reflect you and your families life as much as possible.
Things that seem important one year may actually stop being important another – so keep on top of your memories and make them count!
Decluttering guilt Reason 5 – I will regret getting rid of it
People often hold onto their stuff with a “Just in case” mentality. I know that’s why theres still an ice cream maker in the back of my kitchen cupboard somewhere……. but I digress!
But keeping things that you aren’t going to use is a waste of time, energy and money.
Give it away or sell it, and then free up space in your home for something you do truly need.
There’s no reason why, if you do need it in the future, you couldn’t borrow one from someone else, or purchase it again – but in the meantime you haven’t had to maintain it, clean it, store it etc….
Wouldn’t it be lovely to end up with a home in which the majority of items are things you truly love or that are useful in some way.
This would create a more simplified and calm place to be, and you will feel really great as a result.
Keeping things because of a sense of duty, or guilt, is no way to feel in your own home – so why not take back control and get the clutter free home you are dreaming of. Let go of all that decluttering guilt once and for all.
Now, while it’s still fresh in your mind, why not take a black bag around the house and see what you can find that would make you feel better if it was out of the house – bet you you can fill the bag!