Why Is Decluttering Hard?

Spring is in the air, and it’s the time where a lot of people feel a natural inclination to clear some things out after winter’s slow-moving “hibernation” period.  Freshening up this time of year is a great idea, because all that indoor time can create stagnant chi in the home — and no one wants that!

So, open those windows, beat out those rugs, sweep the patios!  Get rid of those clothes that aren’t “sparking joy” and tackle the garage!  Go through the kids’ artwork and straighten up that linen closet.

Oooof.   If it were only that easy, right?!

Here are 5 reasons why you may be feeling stuck or down or even incompetent when it comes to decluttering.  Hopefully these tips will help you be easier on yourself about not having that Pinterest-worthy closet (those rarely stay like that) and give you a dose of inspiration for moving forward!

  1. Getting started. Sometimes folks just don’t know where to start.  Just making the decision to declutter can sometimes be where folks get stuck!  This is okay!  You’re about to embark on a power-giving endeavor, and your psyche knows this and may not want anything to do with you getting “empowered.”  Plus the “heavier” energy of the clutter makes it harder to get going, but now that you know this, you can tackle it accordingly.  Also, I love Marie Kondo for her smart idea for working in categories. She’s brilliant when she says:  “Start with your own clothes!”  Once clothes are done, move to books, then to papers, and so on.
  2. Time.  Yep, decluttering takes time.  I’m not gonna sugarcoat that one.  Sometimes, depending on the current state of your home, it takes A LOT of time.  You say you don’t have time, I know I know, life is so darn busy.  But guess what! The irony about the “time” excuse is that having a cluttered home is the BIGGEST time-suck I know of.  Imagine knowing where everything is and not having to look for it.  Imagine your daily cleaning happening ten times faster because you have less stuff to clean and organize.  Imagine having more clarity and decision-making power in all your endeavors…because you’ve chosen clarity and made wise decisions about the stuff in your home.  Look:  it’s a rare soul who really WANTS to declutter — what they are wanting is the result!  And if they are excited about decluttering, it is ONLY because they know how good it’s going to feel once they make some headway.
  3. Not having decision-making power.  This is another reason I like one’s own clothes for a starting point.  Usually, one doesn’t have to check in with a spouse or mother-in-law for permission on those.  But move into other categories, and wow!  I’ve had clients have a list of folks they need to check in with on items before committing to donating them — even if they’ve lived with those items for over 20 years!  It’s one thing to honor the family’s wishes, it’s another to get blocked on doing a huge, kind thing for yourself (making your home better!) by using these folks as an excuse for not moving forward.  Take back your power.  If it’s in your living space, claim it as yours or give the others who are most likely on the fence about it anyway a clearly-communicated deadline in picking it up — and stick to the deadline.
  4. Not knowing what to do with the stuff. I see it all too much.  Clients do the hard work of sorting and figuring out what to keep and what to let go…to have garbage bags cluttering up their hallways or garages for weeks on end because they haven’t figured out where to take them!  I’m a big fan of donating over landfills or delegating specific items to specific folks (that’s a lot of work and who knows if they really want it?!
  5. Poverty (or other unhealthy) mindsets + painful memories.  When you declutter, you not only come face-to-face with your stuff — but with yourself.  Believe it or not, every item in your house holds some sort of “story” or another and could represent things in your life that you’ve avoided dealing with.  Furthermore, you may be holding on to stuff with an underlying fear that you may not be able to “replace it” or get something as “nice” (even if you don’t like it in the first place!). I would say this is the #1 reason people have a hard time decluttering — because having a look at how we have been living may bring up some painful memories.  But trust me when I say: if you look at it, make an informed decision about it, and are bold enough to “let it go,” you are making energetic space for the new in better, not only in your home, but in your life!  Decluttering is a way of processing your past so that you can move forward more easily.  It’s POWERFUL, and well, sometimes, we aren’t ready for a powerful shift, and so we will find every excuse on the planet not to let go of those things we are holding on to.

I hope reading this has helped you see that it’s okay that decluttering is hard — because it is hard sometimes!  But the benefits are exponential.  If you can look at the “tidying up” process, as Marie Kondo so wisely calls it, as a way of connecting with yourself, as a way of honoring and respecting yourself, as a way of saying YES to a better life on the horizon, you’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish and how good it will feel.

For more on this and to get going with daily tips and an accountability group, consider joining the Declutter Your Way to Clarity eCourse offered on this website under Classes. Katie also highly recommends Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

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