Friday, March 2, 2012

Dealing with de-cluttering fear

I ran across the Blog “Be More with Less” with the post “Busting Your Biggest Clutter Fears” and thought I would give my take on some of the fears discussed and add a few tips of my own. So.. what are your biggest clutter fears?

I’m afraid I’ll have to buy it again

Are you one of those people who are reluctant to get rid of things you don’t use because you are afraid you’ll only have to buy it again later?

The best way to overcome this fear is to think about how many times you have used it so far, and then make a projection based upon how you live your life now how much you will have occasion to use it in the future. If you live life in the future very much like you live life today, what are the chances that you will use this object?

One of the mistakes we often make is to think that we HAVE to own and keep everything we use, even if we only used it once. A better way is to own and keep things that we have a very high probability of needing and using OFTEN.

Let me give you an example. I bought a crowbar a few months ago because I thought I was going to need to use it to change out some cement tiles on my roof. In the end, I didn’t really need to use it because a fellow from my church was kind enough to do the job for me. Yet I have been hanging on to the crowbar out of worry that if I let go of it, I will only need to buy it again later.

Yet, if I try to determine the probability of me having a need to use the crowbar, I find that I shouldn’t worry about it. Crowbars are used for prying things. Our house is pretty nice the way it is and I don’t have any project that I’d need a crowbar for. Neither I or my husband are into carpentry. The claw on our claw hammer is a pretty good tool for prying if we ever need it. If life continues as it is into the future for at least ten years, the probability of an occasion to use the crowbar is very very low. Probably near .25%. I can now put the crowbar in our discard box.

I’m afraid my stuff won’t go to the right place.

Let’s put this fear in perspective. When a young girl puts her newborn baby up for adoption, she would be justified in her concern that her baby will go to the right place. In comparison to this, inanimate objects deserve much less worry.

It is good to put some effort into making sure the stuff that you get rid of goes to the right place, but you have to know where to draw the line. Too much concern for everything means that the burden of de-cluttering anything becomes prohibitively heavy.

One of the fastest, easiest methods of getting your stuff to the “right place” is to drop it off at the donation center of the nearest thrift store. The economic value of thrift stores is that they are an aggregation of many different types of objects that would be difficult to find homes for individually. They are a place that many people can come and pick out what they want and like. There is a higher probability that your precious whatsit will find a buyer there than if you were to take all your time and ask all your friends if they need it. The advantage to you is that while your whatsit is waiting for a buyer, it is not taking up space in your house any more, and you get a tax deduction for a charitable contribution.

Your main two concerns should be getting lightly used articles to a place where they can be used, and getting recyclables where they should go. But some stuff is going to have to go to the landfill. Accept that you’ve done your best and let go.

I’m afraid I won’t have anything left to give my children.

The best thing besides your love and attention that you can give your children is to keep a journal. Journals are like a piece of yourself; they communicate all the stories and memories you choose to record. When you are gone from the earth, your children will appreciate having your journals the most, perhaps even more than having many photos of you.

I’m afraid that if I let go of something sentimental, I’ll forget the memory.

Many organizing professionals advocate taking a picture of your sentimental items. My problem with this advice is that it doesn’t fully seem to deal with the difficulty. The difficulty is caused because there are good memories and feelings associated with the item and those feelings have to be honored and validated in a way that is as satisfying and long-lasting as keeping the item would be.

A better way to honor those memories is to write about them in a journal. By writing about the feelings, they are preserved for the future. The triumphs, dreams, and all the pleasant feelings can be communicated to others, which is part of the fun of remembering.

“I’m afraid that I wasted money on things and giving stuff away is like money down the drain.”

Time to confront that fear…ask yourself: how much money are you going to have to pay to get rid of your stuff? If the answer is what I think it is, you don’t have to pay anything. If you have to pay to let go, only then can you really say that giving stuff away is “money down the drain.”

If you are have a sneaking suspicion that you wasted your money on buying something, it isn’t going to do you any good to hang on to it. Repent and get rid of it! Confess that you have wasted your money, and then resolve that you will stop wasting your space. As commenter Rita@thissortaoldlife wrote on, “keeping the clothes I never wore would not get me the money back or justify the expenitures—and once the truth of their value (not much) was seen, I could not un-see it. Getting rid of them did remove the constant-visual reminder of the choices I regretted. It was much easier to move on and leave them in the past…”

If I let go of ______, someone in my family will be mad.

Is it your stuff or their stuff? If they have given it to you, then YOU are the one who gets to choose what to do with it, not them. If you are worried about them getting mad at you if you get rid of it, ask them if they want it. If they don’t want it, then you can get rid of it without fear. If they get mad after that, remind them that you have a right to do what you want with the stuff that belongs to you and remind them that you offered it to them beforehand.

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