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Why is Decluttering So Hard?

decluttering can be overwhelming

If you’ve ever tried to declutter your own home, you know that it can be a daunting task. It’s hard enough to get rid of one item, but what about when you have to get rid of a whole house full of clutter?

What causes us to hold onto things we don’t need? And why is it so difficult to let go? Let’s explore some of the reasons why decluttering is so hard.

Why is it Hard to Let Go of our Stuff?

Most of us have experienced the feeling of being overwhelmed by our clutter at some point in our lives. Whether it’s a filled to bursting closet, a crammed garage, or a cluttered storage unit, it can be difficult to get rid of things we no longer need.

So why is decluttering so hard? There are quite a few different reasons why we get decluttering paralysis when we really do want a clutter free home. Here are some of the common reasons people struggle:

  • Our belongings are tied up in our identity
  • They give us a sense of security and we feel guilty about throwing things away
  • They provide comfort
  • They often have sentimental value

Our stuff is tied up in our identity

One of the reasons it can be hard to get rid of clutter is that our belongings can be tied up with our identity and self worth.

We are led to believe that our possessions are what make us who we are. We accumulate more stuff we don’t need in an effort to boost our ‘status’ and so getting rid of these things feels like we are then giving some of that away.

We may also see getting rid of things as admitting defeat or as giving up on our dreams. This can be especially true with hobbies, jobs or sports where we hoped to achieve something that we haven’t yet.

Getting rid of the equipment or tools, or even books and courses, that we accumulated when we first had these dreams can feel like letting go of who we wanted to be.

We get security from our belongings

Having a lot of things can sometimes give us a sense of security. This is often especially true if we grew up without everything we needed and have a scarcity mindset.

We don’t want to go back to living in want and so we may hold onto things because we’re afraid we won’t be able to replace them if we need them again. People can also tend to feel guilty about getting rid of things even if they have too much stuff.

Our things can provide us with comfort

Sometimes our belongings provide us with a sense of comfort and familiarity in an ever-changing world.

However, it’s important to remember that our belongings are just things and when we start decluttering we learn how to comfort ourselves without relying on stuff.

Our possessions often have sentimental value

We may be attached to objects because they remind us of happy memories from the past and have sentimental value.

We all have sentimental items that we hold dear. For some of us, it’s a childhood toy that takes us on a trip down memory lane. For others, it’s a piece of jewellery that was passed down from a family member.

It can be especially difficult to let go of sentimental items we’ve formed an emotional attachment to, and we can sometimes end up feeling guilt about getting rid of them.

There is nothing wrong with keeping sentimental items, but sometimes we hang on to reminders of the past that are no longer serving us or we have so many of them that they lose their value.

How to Overcome the Challenges of the Decluttering Process

boxes for decluttering your home

These are the most common reasons it can be hard to declutter but it’s important to remember that decluttering doesn’t have to mean getting rid of everything you own.

Decluttering is about the process of making room for what’s really important in your life. Remembering this can make it easier to get rid of those things that aren’t contributing anything to our lives.

Material things are not what define us as people. Our worth comes from within, not from our possessions and no object can give us lasting happiness.

Furthermore, holding on to more stuff can actually make us feel less secure, as it becomes more difficult to keep track of and care for our belongings. The possessions that we do actually care about and that can make us happy get lost in amongst all the clutter.

Ultimately, decluttering is about finding the balance between having enough and having too much. Decluttering is hard but the process is ultimately worth it, and here’s why.

Why Decluttering is Worth it

When you’re pushing through the hard part of decluttering, where it seems too difficult and you wonder whether it’s worthwhile, here are some things to remind you why it is worth persevering.

  • When we’re constantly surrounded by clutter, it can be difficult to focus and feel calm. Imagine how much more relaxing and enjoyable your clutter free home will be.
  • Letting go of material possessions can be a liberating experience. Having less stuff can help us to see ourselves in a new light and to take on new challenges rather than feeling guilty about what we haven’t done in the past.
  • Having less stuff gives us the space to concentrate on the things that make us feel happy and at peace. When we have less clutter to distract us, we can really enjoy the belongings we have that do, as Marie Kondo puts it, ‘spark joy’.

The key is to think more about your attachment to your belongings and to declutter mindfully, choosing only those items that bring you joy.

The next time you’re finding it hard to declutter, remind yourself that it’s just stuff. It doesn’t control you – you control it. You can start taking achievable steps to declutter your life and find freedom from the past.