I’ve heard so many people say, “I have a hard time letting go of things. I know I want to. I know I need to. I just don’t know how to give myself that permission to let go.”
Here’s the thing: When you feel anxious, angry, guilty, or any other negative emotion, you don’t want someone to simply say, “Don’t worry about it. Just let it go.” You have reasons–good reasons–to hold onto those feelings. What we often consider to be ‘negative’ feelings or thoughts are, in fact, a reflection of our values.
Recognizing and acknowledging these deeper values is a deep form of empathy and compassion for ourselves and helps reduce the internal conflict we feel when we are suffering emotionally. So how does this relate to decluttering?
When your physical clutter brings up those strong emotions, it is essential to honor the parts of you that want to keep those items. You don’t have to get rid of those feelings. You simply work to dial them down.
3-Step Process to Honor Your Feelings While Decluttering
1. Identify the situation.
Maybe you’ve just inherited a house full of stuff from a parent who passed away. Or you have boxes and boxes of stuff that you’ve never unpacked from a move that happened several years ago. Or clutter built up as a family crisis took forefront in your life. What is your situation?
2. What are the reasons you are holding onto the clutter? What does it represent? Write down your thoughts.
- I just want to get rid of all of it. But if I get rid of all of it, I’m giving away my love for my parents.
- This box of baby supplies represents my wish that I could have another child.
Maybe it represents your love or your memories. Maybe it represents something you wish you could have been, or had, or done, or held onto longer. Whatever it is, write it down.
3. Consider ways to dial down how much room this clutter takes in your life.
You are still holding onto the things that represent the best of those experiences, that person, or that memory. But you’re not holding onto all of it. That way, you get to keep the beauty and get rid of the overwhelm.
Our Steps to Everyday Productivity (STEP) community has so many great ideas for ways you can do this!
- Take pictures of sentimental items and create a collage or photobook that you can display in their place. Or you could put the pictures into Evernote or onto an Instagram account, where you can view them from anywhere on your phone!
- Journal about the memory associated with the item.
- Was the item a gift? If the giver thought this item was giving you trouble, they would gladly tell you to take a picture and give it away.
- Pack the items into a box, label and date the box, and put it into storage. This gives you a chance to see how it feels to live without those things and make sure it’s okay to give them away.
- Use the Marie Kondo method: Thank the thing for its service. If it’s still usable, gently release it to spark joy in someone else’s life. If it needs to be thrown away, thank it for its usefulness and let it rest.
- Find a community of people to cheer you on as you sort through your treasures to keep only the best. (Our STEP community is SO good at this! Want to join us? Learn more in our free class linked below!)
- Set up a station for decluttering, with places for giving away, trash, recycle, regifting, etc.
- Consider who you might know who could really use and enjoy your things and give them to those people.
- Look to see if there is a local Facebook group where you can post and pass on your things for free.
- Give yourself permission to take it slowly.
- Consider decluttering with a family member, especially if you think they might be more ready to let things go than you are.
- Give yourself a limit to how much you will keep. This could be a number of items, or a container in which to fit your treasures.
- Or decide how much you would like to give away during each decluttering session.
- Remind yourself that you are making room for better things.
Take a few minutes to identify your situation and write down what your sentimental things represent to you. Then choose one of the ideas shared by our STEP community to help you declutter–and if you’re feeling brave, share your struggles, commitments and/or successes in the comments below! We’d love to hear what’s working for you!
If you’re looking for a simple, step-by-step process to streamline your “stuff,” this is an incredibly doable way to get started.
Do you have a hard time deciding what to keep and what to throw away? This powerful podcast with best-selling author and professional organizer, Julie Morgenstern, will give you tips and strategies to transform your personal space.
There is such POWER in community. Are you looking for a group of people to cheer for you and coach you through your decluttering? Our STEP community is so invested in the success of those around them, it is incredible to see and experience! If you want to learn how you can join the party, come to our free class! You can sign up here.