Don’t know how to begin decluttering? Then consider these 8 things holding you back from minimalism and decluttering. Once I figured these out, taking the step towards a more minimalist life wasn’t near so scary!
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Me a minimalist?
What do you think of when you hear the word minimalist? I used to think minimalism was stark white rooms with not a lot of furniture, one plate, one bowl, one cup per person, blank walls with no art and the list could go on.
There was no way I was going to go that route. I love a homey and comfortable home. I didn’t want to live in an empty unloved show home.
But, I don’t think that is what it really is. Minimalism is really about living simply. It’s about living with intentionality. It’s learning to live within your limits.
I think it’s about being a good steward of the things we own. Taking care of them, loving them, enjoying and using the things we have.
We used to have a holiday camper, since we love going camping, and we only had the bare essentials. I never had any issues sweeping it out a couple times a day or washing the dishes, it didn’t seem to be such a big deal. It was simple and quick to put together our meals and super easy to clean up.
I loved coming home with that feeling of simplicity, and then I’d walk into our home and be overwhelmed. There was so much stuff!
The thought of having to pull out the broom or vacuum was too much work. There was so much to pick up that by the time we were all done none of us wanted to do the actual cleaning. I wanted to throw out all our things and live with nothing.
It was that feeling of simplicity that started me on the journey towards minimalism. I wanted that camper feeling in our home. It was time for me to own our home, instead of our home owning me.
I am by no means finished. This is a work in progress. But recognizing these stumbling blocks has made a huge difference in how I look at letting go.
8 Things Holding you Back from Minimalism
Fear of what others might think
If you’re hanging onto items that you don’t need, love or want based on what you think other people would say if you got rid of them; I encourage you to stop, take a deep breath and let those items go.
We can’t live our lives based on what we feel others might think of us. We need to embrace our own identity and live for us!
It’s way too easy to create scenarios in our own mind about what other people are thinking of us. But really, others are just as worried as we are. I don’t think they have time to worry about the fact you discarded Great Grandmas old tea towel (or some other item).
Not knowing the vision for your home
The year I turned 30 was freeing for me. I started to see who I was and realized that it’s ok to be who I am. I began to see who I wanted to be and the kind of life I wanted for our family.
Looking around our home I saw purchases that, I had made in my 20’s and early 30’s, were based on the life I thought I was supposed to be living. Not on who I was or how I wanted our life at home to be.
Once I could envision the life I wanted for myself and our family, it became easier to look at our possessions with different eyes. I could see the items that enriched our lives and others that just weren’t needed anymore.
Write down the feelings you want from your home, pin some images to Pinterest of how you want your home to feel. Then as you move through your home keep the things that match your home vision.
Guilt and Wasted Money
This is a huge hurdle to overcome when you’re ready to take the leap into minimalism. There can be immense guilt over wasted money on items that you don’t use anymore, but you have been hanging onto.
This guilt can be over clothes in your closest that still have price tags, they could be items that were really expensive but didn’t serve the purpose you thought or they could be duplicates that you purchased because you couldn’t find the first item.
Acknowledge that you made those purchases. The money has been spent. You’re not going to loose more money by getting rid of and donating those items.
If the item is still in good useable condition you can try and sell it, but give yourself a time limit for selling an item, or it will just sit in your closet taking up space. After the time limit donate the item.
While it might feel like you’re wasting money right now it’s really going to help you save money in the long run.
What if I might need it?
I’m a very frugal person and this one has been a huge hill for me to climb. I have keep so many things because I might need them?
But, here’s the thing….half the time I could never find the item when I needed it or it was broken since it wasn’t cared for. So might I actually need something I get rid of? Yes. But, that’s ok. I accept that and let it go anyways.
My go to now is that I need to have a specific project for an item or it needs to go. Am I perfect? Ummm no! But the quantity of items I’m keeping for a future project is decreasing by the day.
I finally tackled a box on the shelf by my dryer that I’ve been avoiding for a couple years and was able to get rid of 3/4 of the items in it. It took me working through other areas of my life to get to where I was able to tackle that box.
A year ago, I wasn’t in the same head space that I am now. So give yourself some grace, and know its a marathon and not a sprint!
It’s still functional
What if the item still works? Should you keep it?
I’ve started asking myself, ‘Can I use something else to do the same purpose?’ Lots of items I have got rid of have been really functional but I still donated them. They are now functional in someone else’s home.
My electric knife is my best example of this. It was a wedding present and growing up I loved that my Mom had an electric knife. It was cool and fancy. So I thought it was important to keep mine.
But in the last 14 years I have used that knife only a handful of times. I found I always reached for my good butcher knife. It was faster and less dishes to wash. So last month I finally donated it. It felt great!
It was a gift
Yes, many things in our homes come from gifts. Many times those gifts come with a perceived expectation to keep them till the day we die.
I’m not saying you need to callously get rid of every gift you have been given. That’s disrespectful and doesn’t honour the giver. Please always be thankful for the gifts you have been given. Many people are not so blessed.
If a gift doesn’t work for you or your family though, graciously let it pass through your home and bless someone else. Don’t let guilt jump in and force you to keep something just because it was given to you.
Things can be kept for a season of life and then let go.
What does fantasy self mean? It’s an idea of who you think you want to be or thought you might like. An example is that I thought I would love knitting. It seemed like something that I should learn.
I kept a big stack of yarn and knitting needles in my crafting supplies for years. I tried knitting, I’m not patient enough. It made me frustrated. I finally let them all go. I’m still working on my crochet needles. I’m a work in progress!
For you it might be the art supplies you bought for a course, but you find that you don’t like painting. It might be tubs and tubs of fabric, but you just don’t sew anymore. Maybe it’s piano books from when you took lessons, but you haven’t touched the piano in years.
Whatever it is, it’s ok. You aren’t wasting these things, you have enjoyed those hobbies for a season and they don’t work for you now; you learned something, it’s ok to let it go. In the future if you choose to try again you can always start fresh.
Accepting who we are at the moment is important. Don’t heap more guilt on yourself for something you tried and aren’t doing anymore.
Worry that I’ll miss things
I have held onto items for much longer that I should have for the pure fact I was afraid I’d miss them.
Guess what? I can’t think of one thing that I regret getting rid of, except for maybe the movie Wall-e. We still haven’t replaced it so obviously we haven’t missed it that much.
As I sit here in my kitchen and look around, it’s the first time in a long time that my kitchen is pretty much clean. It would take less than 5 minutes to whip it into shape.
If you’re really concerned and have the space to store items while you decide, then absolutely box them up and put them away for an allotted time. But just like with selling, give yourself a time limit or you’ll have a basement, garage or shed filled with boxes that you’re going to have to deal with again.
Remember we live in a world where we can quickly get new things within a day or two. We can pop onto Amazon and have things delivered next day or even a few days from now. If you find you really need a sweater since you got rid of too many you can shop Walmart, thrift stores or the mall and have a replacement right away.
Jump in and know that there is a really good chance you’re not actually going to miss the things you’re letting go.
Once you’ve let go of your guilt and fear start working on the vision for your life. It doesn’t need to be overwhelming. Let go of the clutter and embrace change. Take each day one at a time and let your home represent the person you are.