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Decluttering guilt – 5 reasons to let it go!

William Morris famously said “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” but how many of us actually adhere to this, very sensible rule?

Not many!

We all have items in our house that we feel we should / we need / we ought to keep – for many different reasons.

But are they actually helping you enjoy your home?

5 reasons that you need to let go of the guilt you feel when you declutter

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If you walk around your home and see things that actually you may not like or that are taking up too much space, then you will automatically feel down about the space.

Its this that we want to avoid if at all possible. If we can really get into the mindset of William Morris, and only keep things we love or truly need, then we will naturally have less, have to clean less, and feel more free – and what could be better than that!

In this post I want to look at the most common ways that people feel guilty about when they want to get organised and start to declutter.

Do any fit you and your home?…

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Decluttering guilt – Reason 1 – Don’t want to throw it away

Wasting things seems like a waste – literally!, and some people just can’t face throwing things away for this very reason.

But getting rid of things doesn’t have to  mean throwing them away, far from it. Here are a few ways to get rid of things while still making them useful to someone:-

  • Donate to Charity
  • Give to friends who need the items
  • Sell on Ebay (or similar site) and make some money back from the things you don’t want any longer
  • Car boot sale

One persons trash is another persons treasure

Also – another way of thinking about the items that fall into this category are that they are actually as good as landfill in your home if you are not using them and they are dragging you down, if you think things are rubbish, then why keep rubbish in your home? – why would you want part of your home to be as good as the bin?!

This thought alone may be enough to start the ball rolling and give you a little motivation.

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Decluttering guilt – Reason 2 – Don’t want to waste my money

How many of us have bought things on a whim?

Clothes that we never wear, toys that are never played, jewellery and accessories never taken out of the box – I could go on and on.

The actual shopping trip may have been fun, but you are left with a sense of guilt about spending the money, and therefore think that keeping the items shows it wasn’t actually a waste really.

Basically – think about it another way – you have ALREADY SPENT THE MONEY. The money has gone. You have already done the waste part of this, so you need to move on and learn from this.

Usually its too late to get a refund, because it will take you a while to convince yourself that you really won’t use the item. You may think that you will use it in a few months, so it will sit in a cupboard and probably be forgotten about in the meantime. This is no good to anyone.

If you can tackle your unnecessary spending before it happens, then you won’t have to feel this guilt again.

So just get rid of the items that are causing you to feel this way, and move on – you will feel better for it.

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Decluttering guilt – Reason 3 – It was a present

People don’t give presents to others expecting anything in return. They are given to make the receiver feel good.

If you truly don’t like a gift, then accept it graciously (this is the part that really counts), and then think about a way that you could use the gift to give someone else happiness.

Think about creating a re-gifting box – any presents that you receive that you won’t use or don’t like can be put in here and given to someone who you think would really appreciate it at the appropriate time.

TIP – Please label all presents in the box with who gave you it originally – it would be awful to give them it back at a later stage….

Whatever you think, people don’t come to your home and scan it to ensure that their presents are on show somewhere. People actually very rarely remember themselves what they bought for others as time passes. If you are truly concerned about it though, why not keep for a short while, and slowly take out of the house over time – everything changes, and no-one would expect you to keep things forever.

The other way of dealing with gifts such as this is to be honest with the giver. Now this really depends on who gave it to you, but close family or friends often would much prefer to know that you returned it and got something else with the money.

I have lost count of the times I have received a present with a gift receipt attached – people genuinely love to give presents that people really want – so they would prefer to see you with something you love at the end of the day (but giving a present is much more thoughtful than a simple voucher). See if honesty really is the best way to deal with something.

Also – think about next year, what happens if you get something you don’t want/like again and again – best to be honest!

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Decluttering guilt – Reason 4 – It has so many memories

If we kept everything that had sentimental value, then we all wouldn’t be able to move around our homes. That first pair of shoes, those letters, that outfit you wore when you got engaged – etc…… Everything we own has some sentiment attached to it usually – so we’d never throw things out again.

Thats no way to live.

What I suggest is to have a memory box.

A memory box can be as big or little as you like, but should ideally be of a size that you can lift easily, be secure and kept in a place that things won’t get damaged.

Add in anything that truly has memories for you that you want to keep but aren’t suitable to display. Then simply add in things as they come along.

Each year have a look through and take out anything that doesn’t have sentimental value any longer (that happens a lot!), and you should be able to keep on top of it, while having a fantastic record of your life in that box.

That way you really shouldn’t have to keep everything.

TIP – Take photos of larger items and add these in – this saves on bulk and you still have a memory of that item which is usually enough.

For anything else, display what you can (I am a firm believer that artwork and anything on shelves should reflect you and your families life as much as possible.

Things that seem important one year may actually stop being important another – so keep on top of your memories and make them count!

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Decluttering guilt – Reason 5 – I will regret getting rid of it

People often hold onto things with a “Just in case” mentality. I know thats why theres still an ice cream maker in the back of my kitchen cupboard somewhere……. but I digress!

Keeping things that you aren’t going to use is a waste of time, energy and money. Give it away or sell it, and then free up space in your home for something you do truly need.

There is no reason why, if you do need it in the future, you couldn’t borrow one from someone else, or purchase it again – but in the meantime you haven’t had to maintain it, clean it, store it etc….

A great idea to do if you are still not sure of whether you can take the plunge and get rid of something entirely is to put it in a box in the garage. Once the box is full seal the box for 6 months. If after 6 months you haven’t needed anything in the box, and if you can’t remember what was in it – then just GET RID OF IT. Don’t open it up as you will simply open up all those feelings you had again, and start to reminisce over them. If you really needed them or regretted getting rid of them, then you would have remembered what they were at the very least, don’t you think!

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There are so many reasons its hard to declutter your home - and this post tackles just a few - from feeling like you need to keep presents you don't like, all the way through to the fact that you don't want to waste money.Wouldn’t it be lovely to end up with a home in which the majority of items are things you truly love or that are useful in some way.

This would create a more simplified and calm place to be, and you will feel really great as a result.
Keeping things because of a sense of duty, or guilt, is no way to feel in your own home – so why not take back control and get the clutter free home you are dreaming of.

Now, while its still fresh in your mind, why not take a black bag around the house and see what you can find that would make you feel better if it was out of the house – bet you you can fill the bag!

Good luck, and happy decluttering!

Why not start your decluttering right now with the super-simple 30 day clutter blitz challenge – interested? CLICK HERE

** This post may contain affiliate links - to find out more please see my disclosure policy


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5 Responses to Decluttering guilt – 5 reasons to let it go!

  1. Paige Whittington Mar 24, 2015 at 3:57 pm #

    Scan info and save in Dropbox or OneDrive/cloud storage. It will always be there. As for kids papers, pick the best two of the week. Then, at the end of the month, reduce the pile to the best three. At the end of six months, reduce it down to three. At the end of the year, you should only have a handful of great papers/art. Then, as the article suggests, at the start of the year, gi through those piles. How many do you or your child REALLY want to keep and why? Unless you want the originals, turn it into memory or scrapbooks. I have a kindergartner and that us my plan. One book of his school life. The purpose is not just sentimentality, it (should) also be the best accomplishments and victories.

    • Chrissy Halton Mar 28, 2015 at 5:51 pm #

      Hi Paige – LOVE the idea of keeping reducing what you keep as you get more – great idea so thanks for sharing x

  2. Flo Feb 4, 2015 at 6:05 am #

    What about papers? That’s the worst for me. I have natural health newsletters I want info from. Then there’s my son’s papers over the years — Boy Scouts, church stuff, school. There are recipes printed out to try and then no one acts that happy about them and later wonders where is that recipe you made (whenever)?

    Information online and in hard copy — are my most difficult to deal with clutter.

    Any ideas?

    Thanks!

    • Chrissy Halton Feb 9, 2015 at 10:56 pm #

      Hi Flo – great questions – thank you! – I would definitely start a folder to keep your natural health magazines in – and only keep the parts that you require the info from so that it keeps bulk down. ripping out the pages you need and circling the information will make it easier to find what you need when you need it again rather than going through tonnes of full magazines. With your sons papers I would file in year order so that you can again find what you want when you need it – a regular filing cabinet would work well for this or even a plastic box would be fine. And lastly – for recipes I would look at not printing them out any longer but saving them on a recipe board you can make on Pinterest as this will automatically link to the recipe on the web. You could move recipes you love to a new RECIPES WE LOVE board when you have tried them and want to keep them – this will keep clutter to a minimum while still keeping what you need to keep. I hope these ideas help x

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    […] can do about it. It’s good to think about this when you’re trying to get rid of the clutter in your home. Don’t be afraid to throw everything away. If someone will find it useful you can donate it […]

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