Decluttering: Guilt!

During the course of decluttering, it is nearly impossible to escape feeling guilty at some point over parting with some items.  Perhaps it is a sentimental item or maybe someone gave it to you and you feel bad about donating the item.

How do we escape these feelings of guilt?

I remember several years back, my sister asking if she could get rid of a particular item she had that I’d given to her.  I’d even forgotten that I gave that old record player to her for the kids.  I told her that from that point on to never feel bad about getting rid of anything I give her!  I would never want someone else to feel as though they had to keep something for a lifetime simply because I gave it to them.   This thought alone encourages deeper thought when selecting a gift for someone in the future.

A second cousin recently gave me a set of China that belonged to my Grandmother many years ago.  She wanted it to be kept in the family so she gave it to me over the summer.  Initially, I was so touched by her gesture and very excited about this set … until I got it home and realized that I had no place to display it really.  And why would I hold onto it just to keep it in the boxes in the garage?  I had previously offered the set to both of my sisters and they had declined, however, my younger sister may now take them off my hands.  This is a relief; however, had she not said she wanted them, I would have donated them to charity.  That may seem very cold and sad to some, however, “things” cannot have such control over us and our emotions that we are powerless to do anything with them.

Another reason for guilt when purging can be the amount of money we spent on that item.  I alluded to this in another post, but the truth remains – What is spent is spent.  It is gone and by holding onto that item, it doesn’t change the fact that the money is spent.  Of course, you could sell the item and recoup some of the cost.  But the point is, holding onto an item for the sake of guilt is not a valid reason.  Let it go!

I will say this … In all my years of keeping home and countless purges, I have never looked back and regretted my donations.  And, believe me, there have been many!  As we have moved various times, we have found what fit beautifully in one home does not in the next. This requires some adaptation and parting with things.  So, no guilt.  No regret.

You will simply have to tell your brain to move beyond the temporary feelings of guilt and move onto seeing the overall picture of your decluttering goals.

Just this past weekend, I purged some candle holders and candles, etc. that were perfectly good, but I knew I would not be using them.  I needed the space, which was added incentive to go ahead and get rid of them.  I could feel guilty about the initial cost and not using them, but, instead I am enjoying a more tidy space.

Somehow we get in our head that “things” are supposed to be held onto forever.  That is not necessarily true.  Some things are useful for a season and then we should let them go.  If we can bear this in mind, we will find greater success in our decluttering process.

Once you have a decluttering plan, it is key not to allow negative or guilty feelings to impede your goals.  This is why it’s probably not a good idea to begin a major decluttering process with sorting through old family pictures or cards/letters.  Emotions tend to tug at our hearts and weigh us down with all sorts of feelings, which requires a good bit of time to make decisions.  Set those aside for small increments of time when you spend the time to sort through.  With the other victories fresh in your mind, you’ll have greater ammunition to face the sentimental items.

It’s good to bear in mind the motto that, “Someone else will get far more enjoyment/use out of this item than I currently am”.

This is especially true of something sitting in an old box, stored in the basement, hidden in the back of a cabinet or a closet, etc.  Let’s be realistic about our stuff.

Feelings, and particularly guilt, can be very unruly and separate from reality.  If we can set them aside and focus on our reality, we can move forward with our decluttering progress.  I hope this post has been helpful.  Let me know how you’ve handled parting with a sentimental item or gift.  I’d love to hear.

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