There is no doubt about it, decluttering is hard.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned expert or just getting started, the process of decluttering can be stressful and overwhelming.
What’s more, once you start the decluttering journey, it can be easy to feel guilty about getting rid of things.
After all, we live in a society that tells us that more is better.
But the truth is, decluttering your home can be incredibly freeing and empowering.
Do you have guilty feelings about decluttering? If you do, don’t worry. You’re not alone! Many of us feel guilty when we get rid of things, even if we know that we don’t need them.
But there’s no need to have decluttering guilt – decluttering can be a great way to stop holding onto things you no longer need, simplify your life and make room for the things you really care about.
In this post, I’ll show you how to declutter without feeling guilty and how to make the process as stress-free as possible.
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- Why Is Decluttering So Hard: 9 Reasons You Can’t Clear The Clutter
- Overwhelmed by Clutter? Getting to the Root of Your Clutter Problem
- 18 Important Decluttering Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Declutter
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- Why we feel guilty about decluttering
- How to declutter without feeling guilty
- Moving forward: The future
Why we feel guilty about decluttering
Before getting into how we can declutter without guilt, it’s important to understand why we feel guilty about decluttering in the first place.
There are a few reasons:
We live in a society that values stuff
In our culture, more is often seen as better. This is especially true when it comes to material possessions.
As a result, we’re taught to believe that the more stuff we have, the happier we’ll be.
But of course, this isn’t true! In reality, having too much stuff can be incredibly overwhelming and lead to feelings of anxiety and stress.
We associate our possessions with our identity
For many of us, our possessions are a big part of our identity. They can tell the world who we are and what we’re interested in.
So when we get rid of things, it can feel like we’re getting rid of a part of ourselves.
For example, you might feel like getting rid of your collection of vintage t-shirts means giving up a part of who you are.
Or, if you’re a parent, you might feel guilty about getting rid of your child’s baby clothes because it feels like you’re giving up on the idea of having more children.
We think that getting rid of things means that we’re wasteful
Another reason we might feel guilty about decluttering is because we think that getting rid of things means that we’re being wasteful.
After all, we’ve spent good money on these items, so shouldn’t we keep them?
We forget that the money we spend on these things is long gone. Whether we keep them hidden away in a closet or donate it to someone else, it won’t be a waste.
We think we might need it someday
One of the biggest reasons we hold on to things is because we think we might need them someday.
We have a fear that if we throw something away, we’ll end up needing it in the future and we’ll regret getting rid of it.
For example, you might keep a stack of old magazines even though you know you’ll never read them again because you’re afraid that one day you’ll need them for something.
Or, you might keep clothes that no longer fit you because you think you’ll lose weight and be able to wear them again.
It has sentimental value
Possibly the most common reason we feel guilty getting rid of things is because they have some sort of sentimental worth.
We hold on to things because they remind us of people, places, or times in our lives that are special to us.
A memory box that was passed down from generation to generation and ended up in your attic; a piece of jewellery from a loved one that you no longer wear; a gift someone gave you for a secret Santa years ago – these are all examples of things that might have sentimental value.
These things might not have any practical worth, but it’s instilled on us that we must keep them because they’re ‘sentimental items’. In fact, oftentimes we can find these things bring negative memories back into our lives instead of happy ones.
Read also: 9 Ways I’ve Developed a Decluttering Mindset
How to declutter without feeling guilty
Now that we’ve talked about some of the reasons why we experience decluttering guilt, let’s talk about how we can declutter without guilt so that our entire home becomes a place of positive memories, not a place of guilt and shame.
1. Define your goals
Before you start, it’s important to have a clear idea of your goals. What do you want to achieve by decluttering? Are you hoping to create more space in your home and live clutter free? Are you trying to reduce the amount of stuff you have to move when you move house?
If you know what your goals are, it will be easier for you to stay focused and resist the urge to keep things that don’t align with your goals.
2. Start with small & easy items
When you’re first starting out, it can be helpful to start with small items. This way, you can get a feel for the decluttering process.
All the things you already know you’re ready to part with will be easy to put in the ‘getting rid of’ box.
Getting rid of small items can give you a quick confidence boost that will motivate you to keep going.
3. Don’t make decluttering a huge project
One of the reasons we procrastinate when it comes to decluttering is because we think of it as a huge, daunting project.
Don’t get me wrong, if you look at the entire process, it can be daunting. Looking at your entire house and all the things in it, it can feel like an impossible task to get rid of everything you don’t need, especially the things that might leave you with a feeling of guilt.
To make the process easier, break it down into smaller tasks. For example, start by decluttering your wardrobe. Once you’ve tackled that, move on to another area of your house.
By breaking the process down into smaller tasks, it will seem more manageable and you’ll be less likely to get overwhelmed or have negative feelings.
4. The mindset shift
A lot of the time, the reason we feel guilty about letting go of things is because we have a scarcity mindset. We think that if we let go of something, we won’t be able to replace it or we’ll never find anything as good as it again.
It’s important to have a mindset shift from a scarcity mindset to an abundance mindset. My adopting an abundance mindset, you shift your mindset to the belief that there is enough for everyone. Just because you let go of something, doesn’t mean it’s gone forever.
This mindset shift will help you to feel more positive about what you’re doing and let go of any guilt you might be feeling.
Read also: 9 Ways I’ve Developed a Decluttering Mindset
5. Get rid of the ‘shoulds’
One important part of getting rid of clutter without guilt is to get rid of the ‘shoulds’.
You know, all those things you feel like you should keep because you think you might need them someday or because they have some sort of sentimental worth. If you’re holding on to something because you feel like you should, ask yourself why.
Do you really need it? Will you ever use it? Does it bring you joy or does it just take up space in your home?
Is it because you’re attached to it emotionally? Or is it because you’re afraid you might need it someday?
Remember, decluttering is about creating a space that makes you happy. If something doesn’t make you happy, get rid of it!
6. Get rid of things in a helpful manner
Just because you don’t want something anymore doesn’t mean that it’s trash.
There are plenty of ways to discard things so that they don’t end up in a landfill.
Donate things: If something is in good condition but you don’t want it, consider donating it to a local charity or thrift store. If you want to get a little more personal with your choice of donation centres, the Salvation Army or women’s shelters are always in need of donations.
Recycle or upcycle: If something is broken or you can’t donate it, see if it can be recycled or upcycled. Many items that can’t be donated can still be recycled. If you don’t fancy recycling or putting in the work to upcycle it yourself, put it up on your community Facebook group to see if someone wants it for free.
Have a garage sale: This is a great way to get rid of lots of things at once and also make a little extra cash. It’s also an incredible way to let go of the guilt of getting rid of something. When you see the happiness your things bring to others, right in front of you, it’ll be hard to keep that feeling of guilt.
7. Remember the benefits of decluttering
If you want to declutter without guilt, don’t forget to think about all the benefits you will experience after you decide to declutter your home.
A decluttered home will be easier to keep clean, it will be more relaxing and enjoyable to be in, and you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment every time you look around and see how much better your home looks.
You’ll also find that you have more time and energy to spend on the things you love, because you won’t be wasting time cleaning and organising things you don’t need.
You’ll find that experiences are more valuable to you than things, and you’ll be able to make incredible memories from these experiences (because ‘things’ don’t hold our memories).
8. Practice self-compassion
If you do find yourself feeling guilty about letting go of certain items, practice self-compassion.
Remember that you’re doing this for yourself and your own happiness. Beating yourself up about it isn’t going to help anyone. Instead, try to be understanding and forgiving with yourself.
Think about why you’re feeling guilty – is it because you think you shouldn’t clear out something? Is it because someone gave it to you and you feel like you need to keep it out of respect?
Try to work through these feelings so that you can move past them and continue decluttering without guilt.
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Moving forward: The future
How to declutter without feeling guilty…
If you want to declutter without feeling guilty, it’s important to remember that your own home is YOUR space.
You should only keep things in your home that make you happy, that serve a purpose, or that you truly love.
Everything else is just clutter, stuff that we don’t need.
You may have experienced decluttering guilt in the past, and these are perfectly normal feelings to have. But it’s important to remember that your possessions do not define you.
You are not your stuff.
And getting rid of things doesn’t mean giving up on who you are or what you want in life It’s simply a way to simplify your life and create more happiness. So don’t let the guilt hold you back- start simplifying your life today and declutter without guilt!