Many people who struggle with clutter have difficulty “de-owning” their stuff. They get anxious at the thought of parting with it because all the fears crowd their mind with a billion “What if..?” scenarios.
If you are one of those, you’ll be pleased to know that your first goal is not to part with items. Your first goal is to reduce your anxiety around letting go. It’s not about the item, it’s about the discomfort. It doesn’t matter WHY you want to keep it, it’s about anxiety itself.
If you can expose yourself every single day to the behaviour of letting go (starting with really easy things) then your brain starts to back off. You will realise that your anxiety isn’t as high anymore.
Initially, for the first thing you let go of, it will hurt. You’ll feel very anxious. Don’t give up – the pain doesn’t last as long as you’re anticipating. The next one will hurt too, but the one after, and the one after that will all hurt less. This is proven.
You’ve built up your “letting go” muscles and the workout won’t hurt as much anymore.
Be careful – if you cave to the pressure and practice the avoidance behaviour (the keeping) instead of the behaviour you’re trying to encourage (the letting go), it reinforces your brain and takes you straight back to the beginning. A psychologist once told me that if you give in just one time, it will undo a fortnight’s worth of letting go practice.
That’s why it’s important to focus on an easy category of items – so that you are more capable of pushing through the anxiety. After you’re no longer uncomfortable with one category, you can work your way up the line to the harder ones.
Consistency is the key – if you don’t do it EVERY SINGLE DAY you’ll be wasting your time because your brain will revert very quickly and you’ll undo all your good work.