Everyone talks about minimalist living, but what does that really mean? Essentially, it encompasses the art of living simply, which means shedding items in your home that no longer feel good to you and letting go of clutter in your spaces and life that no longer serve you a purpose!
Now of course, what feels good to you will differ from what feels good to your significant other, friends, or family, so this is a decision that must be squarely yours.
So when you begin your decluttering journey, how do you begin? What obstacles do you encounter? What chatter goes on in your mind when you’re midway?
Truthfully, many barriers we may create for ourselves when organizing our homes and lives stem only from our mindset. If we can alter our mindset and view our decluttering journey as a positive, uplifting, and encouraging one, we can ease the stress that may come naturally when letting go of certain items and people from our lives that once aligned with us.
We may make excuses as to why we feel we can’t overcome these barriers, but the truth is, we can. We must empower ourselves.
Here are the top 10 barriers (I arguably call them excuses) people use when decluttering and a quick tidbit on how to start looking at things a bit differently for each one:
1. I paid too much for this! I can’t let this go!
Yes, essentially all of our items hold monetary value, but if the item is just sitting there and we aren’t using it, are we really getting our money’s worth? Could someone we know, even a friend or family that could make more use out of it? It’s not about viewing the letting go process as loosing money, but changing our mindset to reflect a positive behavior that will help those we love bring productivity, joy, or fun into their lives as we clear out ours!
2. Well, what if I’ll need this one day?
If we could as humans, predict every time we would need from now until twenty years later, we would have garages full of stuff in our homes, spilling into our yards and into our neighborhood streets. The truth is, if you haven’t used the item in one year, you probably won’t need to or want to. Clothes are a foolproof example of this. Take inventory of your closet today-are there any clothes that no longer fit you, feel comfortable, or make you feel anything less of beautiful? Just because you cannot keep your once beloved blouses and pants, by giving them away, you are not at a loss. Think of it again, as a process of giving back to your communities, local charities or loved ones that could really use a lamp on their desk or that pair of jeans!
3. Someone very important gave this to me!
We all have items spanning from birthday cards, kitchen gadgets, home decor, or even food that was given to us by someone of importance, whether that be a family member or close friend. This often triggers a guilt process, in which we feel that not keeping the item in question will essentially be a disrespectful representation of our personalities. Is this really true however? If we receive a blender we will never use, because well, we do not blend things or if we are holding onto birthday cards written to us from ten years ago by some friend we used to be friends with, why does that automatically qualify as something we should keep?
Well, it doesn’t and I’m here to tell you, that it is completely okay to give away an item even if your mother-in-law gave it to you, because, well, you won’t use it. There’s also a polite way of having the discussion in case that person does interrogate you about it later. If you can honestly and respectfully tell that special person the reasoning that you had to let that item go in the first place, but also how you felt a local charity could benefit from the item even more, that’s considered perfectly okay etiquette in my book. Also, if for some odd reason, that person becomes furious with you over an item and refuses to speak to you ever again, it may be an opportunity for you to reassess that relationship. Of course there will be exceptions to this, like certain family heirlooms or traditions, and in that case, there may be someone else in your friend circle or family that would value that item even more.
Just openly communicate and remember how beautiful the art of donation can be.
You are literally helping someone who may not have enough money to buy a blender, you may be putting a shirt on someone’s back who can’t afford to buy that brand even if they saved up for it for months! You are giving back to communities who need your help. Even canned or dried foods you do not eat, donate! Feed someone who struggles to properly even eat one meal a day! For me, one of the most noble charities I ever partnered with was the one that took in my old business casual clothing to give to women who had just come out of physically abusive relationships and were homeless. Please take time to realize how much positive light you can bring into someone else lives, just by giving away your clutter.
4. It’s broken and needs fixing. I’ll get it to eventually!
I’m usually a person that says no to keep broken items in your home, it really is considered bad Feng Shui (if you believe in that kind of stuff, which I do) and it obviously doesn’t and can’t serve a purpose. Take one day of the month and go through all of your spaces, scanning for what’s broken.
Is this something I want to fix because I need this item asap?
Is this item permanently damaged and can’t be fixed?
Would this item cost a lot of money to repair, when I could just buy the same exact item brand new for cheaper?
If I did fix this item, would I actually use it?
Is there somewhere I could bring this item that could recycle its parts or make use of what’s left of it? I recently did this with my broken Mac laptop, which by the way, I made 200$ off!
The answers to those questions should make clear fairly quickly, whether or not that item should be kept.
5. It has memories attached to it.
This by far, is the hardest barrier of them all, because emotional attachments to our items are natural and frequent. However, we must remember, we are NOT our things! We can cherish beautiful memories in other ways that feel aligned and bring us content internally. Keeping a book your ex-fiance gave you because it reminds you of him probably causes more pain than happiness every time you look at it. Keeping a mug because your aunt, who passed away, gave it to you as a gift though you never use it, probably causes more discomfort than joy. However, framing a cheerful memory of you and your aunt for your gallery wall may serve you in a more beneficial and enlivening light.
Remember, we are not our things and actually spending time to emotionally detach from our old items, can intuitively create space for more lovely, lively, and cheerful items to enter our homes. Create space for love and joy and that is what will come to you. Hold on to painful memories and chances are, you’ll remain stuck there for a long time.