There are few things that give gratification as immediately as purging your home of clutter. It’s like losing 100 pounds instantly. You feel lighter, freer, happier, more capable. Magic.
Unfortunately, most of us have stuff in our homes that shouldn’t be there. Some of it will be easy to let go once you make the time for a declutter session, but other stuff is more of a challenge. There are three kinds of stuff that likes to stick around long past its welcome:
1. Family stuff: the china from Great-Aunt Betty. The table that Grandpa Charles built with his own two hands. The oil-painting your mom thought you would just love (but you don’t).
You feel guilty when you think of getting rid of it, like you have some moral responsibility to hold on to the stuff. If you like the stuff, if it brings you joy, then by all means, keep it. But if looking at it makes you unhappy, or if you just have too much stuff, you have permission to let it go. If it’s a family treasure, give your family members a chance to take it to their own homes (always set a date by which they have to make a decision). If no one wants the item then donate it so someone new can have a chance to love it.
You family member, whether living or not, doesn’t want to be a burden (and if they actually like playing that guilt card, that is even more of a reason to get the stuff out of your home). Your home should only be filled with things that make you feel wonderful, joyful, and loved. Remember, you can cherish the memory of someone without having to stare at an old china hutch. Hating that china hutch is not honoring the person’s memory anyway.
2. Favor-stuff: the bike you offered to stash in your garage for a friend. The kids’ stuff for while they are in college. Family stuff your sister asked you to hold on to until she could come get it.
This stuff started out in your home with good intentions. Your friend was going off to Thailand for a semester and didn’t want to sell his bike. You offered to store it for a while, but “a while” has turned in to six years. The kids have not only been out of college for years, but they have kids of their own. And your sister’s been promising to rent a truck and come get the family heirlooms for a decade.
You are not a storage unit. If the things are meaningful to these folks then they need to come get it. Otherwise it’s time for them to admit they don’t care that much about it, and time for you to stop storing other people’s stuff. How would it feel if your home had room to breathe? Let that air in, and make sure that other people respect your space (because you are respecting it in the first place).
3. Expensive stuff: the couch that cost a lot and turned out to be totally uncomfortable. The original artwork you “won” in the divorce but now just makes you feel sad to look at. The chair that was soooo perfect in your last place but is just in the way in your new home.
Yes, you spent good money on this stuff, but holding on to it is just a way of punishing yourself. Holding on to something you are not using not only keeps you from having something else you could love, but it also creates a constant reminder of a “poor” choice you made. That in turn makes you doubt your ability to make future choices, and paralyzes you.
Get that stuff out of your life. It doesn’t matter what it cost – the money is spent. Let it go to a good home, and make room for something wonderful to come in to your life.
You have official permission from a professional to just let it all go. Sell it, donate it, give it away. Do whatever you have to do so that when you look around your home you only see things that make you smile and serve your needs. Even if that means having a blank space in your home for a bit, it’s okay. Better to have a spot to fill, than an object that brings you down.
Here’s to letting go, and to creating your Happy Home!