4 Common Arguments Against De-Cluttering
What comes to mind when you hear the word, "de-cluttering"? Do you envision a sparse, minimal space with little furnishings and decor? Or hours spent on the weekend going through boxes of things. Perhaps you equate de-cluttering to detoxing. You know that its beneficial to you but you don't find it all that fun. I believe that de-cluttering like de-toxing. It's a way to get rid of the yuck in our lives in order to make room for what is healthy and relevant. Just as people get defensive about food, we also tend to get contentious when it comes to the thought of de-cluttering.
There is nothing inherently wrong with "stuff". To an extent, we all need stuff in our lives: food, water, shelter, clothing, and companionship. The stuff only becomes a problem when it begins to dictate our life and distract us from the values that we hold. It becomes an issue when our money and possessions are what we find our value and identity in. See how this can be a touchy subject?
When we let go of possessions we are not letting go of our true identity but are rather making room for that true identity to surface. We along with our community are able to see who we really are and what we really treasure. This process while liberating can be difficult and emotional. You are challenging what you say you value and how you are actually living your life. Just as inflammation may arise when going on a detox, arguments and set backs can come up as we begin our journey of de-cluttering.
I don't use that now but I might need it someday.
One of the most common arguments that people have when first embarking on their de-cluttering journey is, "I don't use that now but I might need it someday". This argument is one that I used to cling to! Everything from my wardrobe to my craft closet held things that I desired to keep "just in case". The items in them were items that I had either inherited or spent my well-earned money on and couldn't imagine letting go of. What helped get over this de-cluttering hurdle the most was when I did some reflective work and asked myself: "what does my current lifestyle look like?", "what are my values?", "what kind of lifestyle do I desire to live in the future?", and "do the items that I own align with those values?"
Asking myself these questions was powerful. I realized that I had bought a lot of this stuff years ago with an idea in mind of what my life would be like down the road. I had tried looking into the future where I envisioned being married, having a baby with another on the way, working at a corporate job, hosting semi-regular dinner parties, and continuing to have time for arts and crafts on the weekends. My husband and I would be living in our first home, which would need to look magazine ready of course, so that I could post pictures of it weekly on my blog. I believed that that was what my life needed to look like in order to be happy and successful. After doing my reflective work and asking myself these core questions, I began to quickly let go of things.
I realized that I really didn't need a collection of suits or 6" heels. I didn't need to have boxes of art supplies and crafts when really I rather pursue my interest in photography. I also didn't need fancy platters, casserole dishes, and cupcake tins because I've discovered that my style of entertaining is much more relaxed and holistic. So what if there comes a time in the future where I find myself in need a suit or wanting to take up painting again? Then okay, I can go out and get those things. They'll still be around. I don't need to hoard these things for an occasion that may never occur. By holding on to these things you don't really need, love or use we are are also saying to the universe or God (whatever you believe in) that we won't be able to afford or acquire what we need in the future.
I can't get rid of this because it was expensive.
This leads into our second common argument which is, "I can't get rid of that because it was expensive." I am not saying that we should be getting rid of our possessions haphazardly and without any thought but I do believe that when evaluating whether we want to get rid of a particular item we shouldn't focus on it's price tag. The more important questions that we should be asking are: "do I love this?", "do I use this regularly?", "does this hold me back from my values?", and "what is this [expensive item] costing me?"
But someone gave that to me.
So I was kind of a weird kid growing up. My room would generally be clean but at the same time it would be filled with stuff. Decor, art supplies, clothes, furniture, family heirlooms, etc. A lot of the stuff were things that I loved, things that I used on a pretty regular basis; and then some of the things were items that were gifted to me by family. They were items that conjured up memories of the giver and were items that I couldn't imagine getting rid of, for fear of getting rid of the memories that I attached with them. This fear is one that many hold and one that can be hard to get over however I'm here to tell you that years later its just that, a fear. The truth is that our memories are inside of us and not in the possessions we own. They'll always be with us. The person who gave you a gift obviously cares about you. They want you to have peace and to be happy. If holding on to something that you no longer use, need or love is giving you grief, they would most likely tell you to let it go.
I'm Saving That For My Kids
I recently had a somewhat morbid but freeing realization. I was thinking about my possessions - what I own now and what all that I've released over the past few years. I reflected on some of what my family would have to deal with when I die someday: all of my stuff. While my children may want a few select items the truth is that they will have their own style and needs. They're probably not going to want most of my furniture or decor. While this may not have been the case with generations past it is starting to become the case today: millennials are just not interested in their parents' furniture and possessions like people used to be. Its not that millennials don't have an appreciation for the items or even that it is hard to see those items go; its just that for a lot of them, they have come to enjoy a more minimalistic, flexible lifestyle and don't want to be weighed down by a lot of stuff. I know a lot of parents who have come to terms with this new trend and are starting to ask their children now, as young adults, whether or not they would like some of their possessions down the road. While this may seem morbid to some, I see it as really practical and relieving to both parents and children alike. It allows everyone to be honest and to be able to live out their lives. Parents and grandparents too have caught on to this new minimalist lifestyle and are starting to see the benefits. By not having these conversations with the next generation they may be holding on to things that they would really rather shed, but feel the obligation to keep.
Questions To Ask Yourself Before & During Decluttering:
- What does my current lifestyle look like?
- What are my values?
- What kind of lifestyle do I desire living in the future?
- Do the items that I own align with my values?
Suzanne Hall. Small Space, Big Style: Brunch at Home With A Venice Designer. The ChalkBoard Magazine. 2015. Photo Credit: Yayo Ahumada.
Joshua Becker. America, Stuff, and Self Storage. Becoming Minimalist.