Why You Need to ‘Let Go’ Before You Declutter (and How to Do That)

Decluttering has some amazing benefits. It’ll save you money, leave you less stressed and make housework a breeze. It also makes you happier. But then, you already know all of that.

The problem isn’t that you don’t want to declutter. It’s that the you can’t seem to let go of your stuff. How many times have you set out to declutter your home only to to find yourself stymied by an inadvertent trip down memory lane?

Surrounded by your ex’s t-shirt, the ugly vase from your now-deceased aunt, running shoes you’ve yet to lace up, college textbooks from courses you never finished…you decide (again) to put decluttering off until you figure out what to do with everything.

Letting go of stuff is hard. Perhaps it has sentimental value or maybe you think you’ll need it in the future. It could be that you’re holding onto something because you spent money on it and don’t want to be wasteful.

Understanding the psychology of clutter is an important first step. Once you know why you’re holding onto something, letting it go will be a whole lot easier. The next time you decide to declutter, you’ll actually get the job done.

Forgive Your Impulse Buys

let go declutter

Acknowledge your past impulse buys for the mistakes they were, and move on. We’ve all been there. Whether it’s buying running shoes when you hate running or a Nutribullet when you can’t stand smoothies, it happens.

Our minds trick us into believing the item will somehow change us. We imagine ourselves running or blending with gusto, but we fail to consider the facts. We don’t run, and we prefer eating our calories.

Make a pact with yourself to be more vigilant the next time that happens. Delay the purchase by a week or at least go home and sleep on it. Better yet, run it by a friend who knows you well (and isn’t afraid of being honest).

Back to that impulse purchase. Think of someone who would love to own a new pair of running shoes or blender and gift it to them. Knowing how much joy they’ll get from it will make letting go easier.

The Money is Gone (and That’s Fine)

let go declutter

There is no point keeping something purely because it was expensive. It’s not going to bring the money back. You could recoup some of it on eBay, but ultimately, the money is gone. Make peace with that, and move on.

Instead of seeing it as money down the drain, view it as payment for a lesson learned. At least now you know better than to buy something just because it’s on sale or because you think you might use it.

Sometimes, all you need to do is give yourself permission to “let go of perfectly good things“. Sell them, donate them or give your friend an early Christmas gift. Keeping them will just remind you of your past mistakes, and nothing good ever came from that.

Store Your Memories Inside Yourself

let go declutter

Sentimental items are memory receptacles. They remind us of a person, place or event. We need to learn to access our memories from our hearts rather than relying on some trinket we’ll never use or even look at.

How often do you look at the photos and videos on your phone? If you’re like most people, once you’ve shared them on Instagram, they rarely see the light of day again.

The Eiffel Tower keychain your sister bought you in Paris is still in your junk drawer. It’s too clunky to actually use, but you can’t bring yourself to let it go.

You don’t need a photo or trinket to remind you of the good time you had with her in France. If you shut your eyes. you can still smell the aroma of freshly-baked croissants from that little coffee shop you discovered. In your mind’s eye, the cute barista’s smile is as clear and bright as it was when you were there. (Wait, did he just wink at you or your sister?)

We think we need a physical reminder to help us tap into our memories, but we don’t. All we need to hold onto the people and experiences we treasure is ourselves.

When you focus on being fully present and immersing yourself in the moment, that person or event will stay close to your heart forever.

Resist the urge to pull out your wallet or camera, and just be there.

Okay, NOW It’s Time to Declutter!

let go declutter

Now that you’ve figured out why you were keeping all that stuff, decluttering will be a cakewalk. Why? Well, because you’ve already let go. Now it’s simply a matter of packing the stuff up and sending it to its new home.

Look, I get that it won’t always be that simple. You might still feel a pang of guilt for regifting the ugly vase your aunt gave you on your wedding day. The difference is, this time you’ll put it in the “to go” box regardless.

You’ll smile, secure in the knowledge that the good times you had with her with always be with you. Even better, the vase is no longer destined to spend its life gathering dust. It’s going to someone who will fill it with flowers.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

55 comments

Daniel N
Daniel N22 days ago

tyfs

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Thomas M
Thomas M28 days ago

Thanks for posting

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Ellie L
Emma Labout a month ago

Thank you

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Martha P
Martha Pabout a month ago

thank you for sharing

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Dr. Jan H
Dr. Jan Hillabout a month ago

thanks

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Mary B
Mary Babout a month ago

I am very much enjoying the sorting and decluttering of my home where I have spent more than half my life. It feels like the most natural thing in the world. It does kick up a few microbes that have been dormant in stored stuff tho, and that can lead to some temporary health issues.

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Glennis W
Glennis Whitneyabout a month ago

Thank you for caring and sharinhg

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Glennis W
Glennis Whitneyabout a month ago

Thank you for caring and sharinhg

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Glennis W
Glennis Whitneyabout a month ago

Thank you for caring and sharinhg

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Glennis W
Glennis Whitneyabout a month ago

Thank you for caring and sharinhg

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