Sunday, July 10, 2016

Decluttering: Overcoming Common Mental Hurdles We Face

Before organizing a house or before a move, one of the things we face is removing the excess stuff from our lives.  At times it's extremely hard because we make a lot of mental justifications for hanging onto the stuff.  So here are some of the most common things that I find myself thinking and what I mentally tell myself in order to push past it.

Things I find myself thinking
1) I may need it some day.
2) But it's special because Child drew it/made it for me
3) It was a gift
4) It was very expensive

Things I tell myself instead
1) If I do need it some day, I can always go buy it/borrow it.- If I'm not using the item now and haven't over the past year, chances are very high that I will not need it in the future.  Right now the item is taking up space, cluttering my house, collecting dust, etc.  If I find a point in my life where I actually find the need for the item, then I can always go and purchase it then.  Case in point: the tea kettle.  I had a tea kettle early in my marriage, but then life happened and I never really used it so I donated it.  Now that I'm in a better point in my life to have friends over for afternoon teas, I went and bought a new tea kettle.  It's a-okay to do that.  Same with any baby/children stuff.  Stop holding onto old children's toys, a baby swing, etc.  Unless they hold sentimental value (which I'll get to later), I can always go pick out a gently used one or new one for the next surprise baby.  Heck I can give the item to a friend who's having a baby now and I can always ask for it back when she's done with it.  Lots of friends have sort of a rotation of stuff amongst friends.

2) It's the memory that's special. Stop holding onto paper/clay, etc.- This tip I got from youtube from several moms who share my pain.  It's not the object itself that's so special in this case, it's the memory that my child pored himself into something for me.  They suggested scanning the picture into my computer or having my child hold the item and take their picture.  I still have the memory there to view whenever I want but it's not taking up shelf space only digital space.  It's the same for any other sentimental children's item.  I may want to save the thing they wore home after being born, and that's fine.  But before those sorts of things take over my life, I can take a picture and send the item on it's merry way to someone else's house who can use it.

3) Again it's the memory and the thought that counts- I seriously doubt people are going to be upset if I let go of Christmas ornaments given at Christmas.  I'm sure they understand that I only have so much space on the tree.  I can always take a picture of the ornament hanging on the tree.  It's really not that big of a deal.  Likewise I'm sure people understand if I have too many pairs of brown gloves or scented candles or bath salts (I'm talking the actual ones not the name given for a type of drug).  Nobody wants me to live in a house completely full of their gifts.  They wanted me to enjoy the gift and if I'm not, well that just defeats it's purpose. I'll write them a thank you note and let the item go.

4) Can I sell it?- I've bought a bunch of baby stuff that if I had been practical about things I should have bought used.  I do this every once and a great while.  Sometimes the item fails me or I realize I'm not really using it when I thought I would.  I learned something about that item- I don't need it.  It's served it's purpose- teaching me that I don't need it- and now it's time to go.  If I can sell it, then I'll try and recuperate some of the costs.  If not, I'm sure there's someone else who can use it but can't afford it.  So I'll donate it.  Mea culpe. Lesson learned.

5) Do I really want to clean that?- My mother-in-law actually taught me this one.  She said she doesn't like having carpets in her house or nick nacks because all she keeps thinking is about the extra effort it would take to clean the item.  It's the same for anything currently taking up residence in my house.  Do I really need 7 pairs of jeans?  Do I really want to clean 7 pairs of jeans and have to hang them up?  Can I live with only 2 or 3?  Do I really need all those shot glasses from every vacation I've ever had?  Do I want to dust them every single day from now until I'm dead?  If cleaning those things doesn't bother me, then hey I keep it.  If it does, time for it to go.  I'm like my mother-in-law- I have a select number of tchotchkes and that's it.  I hate cleaning things.  By the way, no I don't own 7 pairs of jeans or tons of shot glasses. :)

6) It costs too much for me to house this stuff.- Why pay storage fees? Why have a big house and pay all those utility costs just to house all my stuff? Wouldn't my money (not to mention time) be better spent elsewhere? Yeah, I think so. 

7) Do I want to burden my children with having to deal with my belongings?- Sorta goes back to the cleaning thing.  I'd rather spend more time with my children than cleaning.  Likewise after I'm dead, I only want my children to see what I thought was special or had use.  I don't want them to see the mountain of clutter and not be able to differentiate between a garage sell find and great-great-great Aunt Ethel's collection of costume jewelry.  Yes, I had a great-great Aunt Ethel who collected costume jewelry.  I also don't want them to have to sort through too much.  They should be able to know and pick out family heirloooms which they can keep, sell, donate, or give to another family member.   I don't want the process to be anymore painful for them then it has to be.  What kind of mother would I be if I burdened them with useless crap after I died?  I'd rather them spend time praying for my soul then calling a junk place to come haul stuff away.  That vision alone makes me start wanting to remove stuff with gusto.  No purgatory time!  Hooray!

So I hope you found these Jedi mind tricks helpful for the next time you declutter.  May the Force (of the Holy Spirit) be with you!


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I love to read your thoughts. Thanks for sharing!