There are many reasons why people keep too many things; I hear them every day. Some are valid (ie, they need, use or love the item) but other excuses need to be challenged if people want to move forward with a simpler, less cluttered life.
Here are some of my favourite counter-arguments and challenges in response to some common excuses:
1. I might use it one day
This is the most common. I always remind people that for every item you keep for this reason, you are adding to your ‘To Do’ list. After all, if you do actually use it, it’s something to do, isn’t it? Do you really need MORE stuff to do? And if you’re keeping it out of obligation (“I really should finish that project”) then it’s not even going to be an enjoyable activity! Why do that to yourself?
When exactly WILL you use it? How long have you been ‘meaning to’ use it? How is it affecting your life right now? If you’re pretty sure you will use it, give yourself a deadline. If it’s not used by then, it is a negative effect on your life and it needs to go.
I also ask clients to ask themselves “What’s the worst that could happen if I get rid of this item?”. In most cases, you’ll just need to borrow one off someone else, or buy it again. And that’s the worst case! You can live with that, can’t you? You’ve certainly been through worse. Most likely, you’ll forget it existed and be grateful for the peace of mind.
2. I plan to fit into it again
Okay, so you have a few items of clothing that you love that don’t quite fit – fair enough. However, you need limits on how many you keep. After all, you will most likely want to go shopping again if you lose weight, won’t you?
And the tough question – how likely are you to actually lose weight? How long have you been that size? It does get less likely as time goes on. I always encourage my clients to focus efforts and space in their wardrobe on clothes that they can use, and that make them feel fabulous in the size they are, instead of resenting their size. If skinny clothes could talk, all they would do is call you fat anyway. You wouldn’t keep a friend that called you fat!
3. I spent a lot of money on it
The money is gone – it’s not coming back. If you wasted the money, it’s already wasted; what you do with the item will make little difference to that. Accept the loss and move on. If you don’t use it, you’re wasting both money, space AND sanity. Why not consider selling it or donating it to someone who will get a lot of use out of it?
4. Someone gave it to me
Your affection for someone should not be directed towards items, it should be directed towards the person. Love the person; get rid of the monstrosity that stresses you.
5. It’s a waste if I get rid of it
It’s far more of a waste to keep it and not use it! Donate it to someone who will appreciate it and get use out of it.
6. We’ve always kept that type of paperwork
Just because you’ve always done it does not mean it’s appropriate anymore. Challenge your habits and rationalise your decisions with some logic. Do you need it? Can you reproduce it if you really do find you need it one day? If it’s available anywhere else, get rid of it and simplify your life. Less paperwork = more smiles!
What excuses do you think you need to remove from your decluttering experience?