Decluttering your home is a very healthy process to clear out stuff that has accumulated but that doesn't add value to your life or allow you to fully thrive. I believe that if we can make a little more space in our homes, it also brings more space and clarity to our minds and souls, thereby allowing us to gain more of those precious moments of stillness so we can connect to the Greater Whole.
But decluttering can be hard. Even if you get past the effort and time it takes (although I offer a free 21-Day Declutter Dash three times a year that makes it easier), the guilt can stop you from making the progress you want to see.
Guilt associated with getting rid of things could be due to the desire to cling to precious memories, the remorse in giving away gifts from others, or the shame in spending hard-earned dollars on something that's now going to waste.
Wherever your guilt is coming from, it's helpful to break it down into rational reasons why it would be more positive to remove the clutter than to keep it.
1. Clutter blocks energy and good things from coming into your life, including abundance.
Too much 'stuff' that we don't use regularly or that doesn't bring us joy on a daily basis has a profound effect on our mental health, mood, and self-esteem. Feng shui says that storing things above you (in an attic for example) creates feelings of feeling pressed down on, resulting in anxiety and overwhelm. And any storage space (a closet, cabinet or bin) that is filled completely blocks the flow of chi into your home and life.
2. The more stuff you keep that isn't useful or joyful to you, the less space you have in your mind for better things.
Not only does your clutter take up valuable space in your home, it's also always in the back of your mind that this thing is here with you in your home and you therefore need to either remember where it's packed away or take care of it if it's out in the open. It seems inconsequential, but when tiny pieces of your brain are used up for these things, there's less of it available to focus on what you really want to be doing.
3. Memories live in you, not in things.
The memory of a loved one can be triggered by keeping just one or two things that remind you of them. A whole box of stuff doesn't mean you remember or love them any more than a few favourite things. If you really want to hang onto things from days past, take a photo of them for a digital album that you'll no doubt go through more often than the box in the basement anyway.
4. Gifts that you hang onto but that don't bring you joy will only make you feel unhappy/anxious/irritated/resentful instead of warm and thankful.
Accepting a gift in the first place is really what counts; the giver simply wants to show you love and appreciation. So say thank you, be genuinely grateful, and then pass the gift on so that others will be able to get joy from it.
5. Less doesn't mean none.
Keeping every piece of china that was handed down to you from family doesn't honour them any less than keeping just one or two of your favourite pieces and displaying them proudly.
6. It's only wasteful if you keep buying more.
I understand it can be difficult to get rid of things you forked out your hard-earned cash to buy in the first place. But the money is gone, so holding on to it but not using it isn’t going to make it a good use of cash. A better option is to try and sell anything you can to make back at least some of the money, then enjoy the benefits of not being tied down by another item you have to store and/or take care of. Make it a rule that you won't waste more money and environmental resources by purchasing things that you don't truly love or absolutely need.
Owning less stuff gives us freedom and helps us save time and feel lighter. Owning less guilt can give us joy because we've given our things away and someone else will now be happy. If you hang onto guilt, you continue to pay for your stuff, not with cash but with emotion, either by holding onto the past or by punishing yourself for old habits. Let all of it go.