Should It Stay Or Should It Go?
When we started Done & Done almost a decade ago, decluttering was something that was new to a lot of people. But now it’s so mainstream it would be hard to find a person who doesn’t have some familiarity with the process.
Good news, bad news.
The good news is that a lot more decluttering has been going on! The bad news? It’s not new and exciting and people are realizing that it can be a difficult process.
If the typical questions; do I need it? do I use it? do I love it? aren’t helping you move forward in your decluttering journey, we have 3 alternative questions that may make a difference.
These questions require a bit more thought and emotional consideration, but in our experience, sometimes that’s exactly what you need to make a breakthrough!
Ready to get started? Read on!
3 Questions To Ask Yourself
1.) What is this costing me emotionally?
This question applies particularly to those hard to get rid of sentimental items. When we work with our clients, very often (as in almost always) we come across things that aren’t necessarily wanted but are kept out of obligation. Whether it’s an entire set of your grandmother’s dishes that aren’t your style at all, or boxes of photos full of people you don’t know, these things can cause you emotional stress.
You may not recognize it as such, but if you get aggravated every time you walk into your basement because you have to navigate around a bunch of boxes – that’s causing you unneeded stress. Or if you feel guilty every holiday because you reach past grandma’s dishes to get to your own, again, you’re dealing with unnecessary emotions.
So you should ask yourself – what is this costing me emotionally? You aren’t obligated to keep things you either don’t like or never use regardless of who owned them in the past. Perhaps another family member would love to have what you don’t want. Or maybe there is a collector out in the universe who is looking for exactly what you have and would be happy to take it off your hands.
Always remember that physical items don’t determine our relationships. If you think your grandmother would be devastated that you gave away her dishes, we’d like to suggest that she would be more devastated to know that you feel resentful about having to store her dishes that you never use.
2.) What is this costing me in terms of space?
As you’re looking at all of your sweaters and are considering putting every single one back into the closet because you just can’t decide, ask yourself “what is this costing me in terms of space?”.
In other words, if you don’t get rid of one, or a few, or most of your collection how is your closet going to function going forward? Are you going to have piles of sweaters on your closet floor? Is the pile going to tip over every single time you reach for one in particular? Is it going to aggravate you every single morning?
If you’re able to let go of clothes because you recognize that they’re causing you more stress than necessary, it may help you make good decluttering decisions. For example, if you’re debating whether or not to keep the extra black sweater you rarely wear, is it worth your mental wellbeing? How much is it really costing you to keep it?
Never underestimate how much lighter you will feel with a little breathing room in your space!
3.) What will it cost me if I let it go and regret my decision?
This is the essential question that will allow you to move forward.
The Sentimental Items
Let’s take the examples we’ve used above. If you ultimately decide to get rid of your grandmother’s dishes and then regret it, those would be hard to replace.
A couple of alternate options:
1.) Keep one plate or dish that you could put in the center of the table as a wonderful reminder.
2.) Take photos on your phone so you can pull them up at a moments notice if you’re feeling nostalgic.
3.) If you’re really really are terrified of letting them go (even though you don’t like them and never use them) you could very carefully box them up and get them out of your working kitchen. That way you would still have them but you could release any resentment you feel about them constantly taking up space.
We’ll admit that sentimental items are worthy of careful consideration because often they can’t be replaced. Again, we urge you to recognize that a physical item is not a replacement for a loving relationship and you are very unlikely to forget a person just because you let go of something they owned.
The Every Day Items
But what about that black sweater you’ve spent the last half hour trying to make a decision about? That is actually easily replaced. Chances are if your closet is bursting at the seams, you have a well practiced shopping habit anyway. Maybe you’re hanging on to it because you feel guilty for spending the money on it in the first place. That is a legitimate regret and is a great learning tool. Don’t continue to buy things that you’ll regret spending money on later. But as for decluttering now, don’t keep it because you’re afraid you’ll regret not having it. There are more black sweaters and next time, you’ll shop intentionally and find the perfect sweater you’ll never want to get rid of!
Decluttering is a process and, honestly, it takes some work both emotionally and physically. But if you ask yourself the right questions, you’ll be able to move forward in a way that makes sense!
If you still need more help and are looking for more advice, check out our Love Your Home Again course! We’ll walk you through every area of your home and teach you how to ask the right questions. Decluttering will become a breeze once you understand how to do it and how much you have to gain!