Decluttering isn’t just about sorting through the accumulated stuff in our home. The process may look a little different for everyone. However, the underlying reasons that hold people back from decluttering and gaining control of their space again are largely consistent. And yet, they’re not often addressed in decluttering programs or talked about in public view.
The truth is, we don’t always talk about how scary it can be to declutter our lives. Because the process of decluttering isn’t easy. If it were, we wouldn’t be searching for home organization advice and resources, right?
"It's All Clutter" podcast #32 brings the top three scariest things about decluttering to the surface. Because once these scary things are in the spotlight, once we admit to them and decide to face them, we can move forward and make progress.
So, let’s talk about it!
#1 Scariest thing about decluttering — Identity.
The items that we own are very connected to who we are, who we want to be, and who we want to be perceived as. Oftentimes, we view our stuff as part of our identity. Therefore, when we think about decluttering, we are forced to come to terms with who we are, right now.
Some of our things represent our past. Think about what you owned as a college student, a new wife, a new mom, or a new dad. There are things we own that represent a past identity, and they are difficult to let go.
Sometimes we buy things and hold onto them for a long time because we associate them with who we want to be. I’ll give you an example from my own craft room. There was a time in my life when I had the goal of becoming a quilter. I purchased all of the supplies and aspired to make heirloom-quality quilts for my daughters, and I dreamed these quilts would be passed down for generations.
Guess what? I never became a quilter! And all of the stuff I had accumulated in an effort to be someone I am not today, only turned into clutter.
I had to come to terms with the fact that I am not a quilter. The meticulous process of making an heirloom-quality quilt is just something that I’m not going to do.
When we declutter, we have to come to terms with past identities and with goals and dreams that never really materialized. We have to come to terms with who we are, right now. Our clutter protects us and keeps us from the painful process of exploring the question, “Who am I?” It’s a scary question.
A Clutter Boss Academy member mentioned the stuffed animals in the back of her closet. She has kept them as a reminder of her happy childhood. Now, I’m not saying that she has to get rid of the stuffed animals — that is her choice alone. But if she did chose to declutter her stuffed animals, would that negate her happy childhood? Absolutely not! If she no longer had those stuffed animals, she’d still have memories of a happy childhood.
You can never throw away memories of experiences. That stays with you, always. Decluttering doesn’t change who you are as a person. Your stuff doesn’t determine your identity — who YOU are as a person does!
#2 Scariest thing about decluttering — Convenient excuses.
When we declutter our stuff, we will lose some convenient excuses in the process.
What do some of these convenient excuses look like?
“I can’t downsize because I have too much stuff.”
“I can’t eat healthy until I declutter my kitchen.”
“I can’t have people over to my house right now.”
“I can’t do this important thing because I have too much stuff to deal with.”
Our clutter makes us more comfortable with these excuses.
The realities of the excuses mentioned above may look like not wanting to downsize because it manes facing mortality. Not wanting to have people over to entertain because the anticipation of social interaction can be scary. Not wanting to take the first step toward a goal or a dream because what if I fail?
When you declutter, you also declutter your convenient excuses, and this is scary. In fact, it is straight-up uncomfortable.
#3 Scariest thing about decluttering — Admitting I have a problem with clutter makes me feel ashamed and embarrassed.
If I admit that I have a problem with clutter, I am also admitting that I am not happy with the environment I’m living in. This is scary because this admission is usually accompanied by feelings of shame and embarrassment.
This is exactly why I created a community of amazingly supportive and non-judgmental people. We’ve all felt shame and embarrassment surrounding our clutter. You are not alone in feeling this way, and with the best support system available you are never alone in your decluttering process.
If there’s one takeaway you get from reading this blog, please, let it be this:
There is no shame in improving your life, EVER!
If you can relate to any of these scary feelings when it comes to facing your clutter, please know there is a whole community here to support you. As we like to say, “Community crushes clutter!” You can do this, especially with the support of people who understand.
For more tips on this topic, check out my advice column in the Albany Times Union Spaces section.
This week, I am inviting you to stop and think really hard about the excuses you’re making when it comes to decluttering. What are the scary things for you personally about decluttering?
And then, let go of them. When you let go of the excuses and decide to move forward, your life will change in the most beautiful and unexpected ways. YOU are worth the change.
Are you looking for a supportive, non-judgmental community to help you with decluttering? I’d love to have you join Clutter Boot Camp! When you join you get immediate access to the 5-video lesson course, the incredible support of our private community, and coaching once a week. All for $27!!
Want more tips like this? Subscribe to my YouTube channel for my weekly podcast, “It’s All Clutter.”