I once had a dear client who had A LOT of stuff! My goal was to help her decide what to get rid of in order to create more space for my client. Then one day she asked me, “Couldn’t you just organize it?” I understood—she didn’t really want to let go of anything.
Why is it so difficult to part with things once they come into our home?
- Some of us like to shop because it feels good. We are inspired by the hope and promise of making our life better with something that catches our eye. But if we make a purchase without clearly knowing its purpose and (more importantly) where it will live within our home, we might find bags and boxes of new items piling up before we can make use of them.
- Some of us love holding onto things from our past because they remind us of special people and events in our lives. Getting rid of the item is like discarding a memory. Yet, our sentimentality can get in the way if we amass so much through the years that we don’t even know what we have.
- Some of us are so creative and see potential in ordinary things—to create, entertain, give as gifts, and beautify our homes. But if we don’t complete the numerous projects and ideas, all that potential becomes burdensome clutter.
- Some of us are living life from one activity to the next, things have accumulated, and we don’t even remember what we have hiding in the back recesses of our closets or the corners of our basements.
There is no right or wrong— we each have a unique relationship with our stuff. The challenge is to figure out how to work within our tendencies and inclinations to ensure that WE are in control of our STUFF and not the other way around.
The act of purging means to go through your items, determined to clear out whatever you truly don’t need or use.
I know that’s hard!
The first step is being brutally honest with yourself. Are you REALLY going to use it?
For example, you used to make popcorn in the corn popper—now you buy microwave popcorn in various flavors. Get rid of the popper! Don’t keep it because you might use it someday. (If you really had the urge and reason to have a corn popper again, they’re not that hard or expensive to replace.) Don’t keep it just because it reminds you of treasured times when your children were young. (Lots of other, more relevant things can do that.)
Do you have a pile of magazines with articles you’ve wanted to read? Clearly, that day hasn’t come yet. Pick out a manageable number of issues and put a realistic date on them to get through. After that date, be at peace that your life is too full or it’s really not enough of a priority, and let them go.
What about gifts you were given by friends or family which you will never use? Here’s what I tell my clients: Acknowledge the love and thoughtfulness of the giver. Think about what that person means to you and how they wanted to give you something from their heart. The fact that it is not your taste or style is secondary to the meaning behind the gift. Receive the love and thoughtfulness of the giver—and let the object go.
Maybe your grandfather’s tools have been sitting in your garage with wonderful fantasies of setting up a workshop. You may not have the skills, time, space or desire, but giving up on that idea feels like you’re being disloyal. Ask yourself: What would your grandfather say about that? Would he want you burdened by that which gave him joy? Oh wait—you really do want to make this a goal? Then take action! Make a plan to clear the space, get the tools sorted, and set up your workshop.
Purging is not an end in itself. The goal is not to own as little as possible. The goal is to focus on clearing out what’s not serving you and your family—and is causing stress in the process. The real aim is to have a more peaceful home, a more well-ordered life.