1. Unrealistic expectations of yourself
I think most people that struggle with clutter are extremely capable and creative. We can see the possibilities in things, and we take enjoyment in making plans.
But then our expectations get in our way. We feel that we should be able to execute our plans perfectly, we feel like we should be able to do things in a certain amount of time, and we feel that whatever we’re working on should come easily.
And when any sort of roadblock comes up, we freeze and quit.
Let’s consider in regards to our decluttering.
We know there are a lot of things we don’t need.
And we expect that decluttering should be easy. If we have five extra pairs of scissors, we logically know that we don’t need them all, so we think, “I can easily get rid of the five extras.”
But when we go to put those five pairs of scissors in the donate bin, we have doubts – but what if I need the little pair? It might come in handy. What if I lose the pair I keep? I don’t want to have to buy more later.
And we waiver.
But we thought it would be easy to declutter!
Which often leads to quitting.
I know there are people that can declutter easily. I’ve met a couple. But most of the people I meet struggle with it. And we need to know that that is ok and that is normal.
It’s normal to have doubts, it’s normal to be anxious about it.
Our brain’s job is to keep us comfortable, and most of us feel safer when we have all that we need. It’s just that we’ve come to believe that we need a LOT.
But if you took time to write down all the things that you TRULY need, how long would the list be?
2. Fear of failure
How many times have you decluttered? For me, it felt like I was always saying “oh I’m going to declutter the house, I’m going to get control over the house this year. I’m going to have a clean house.
I got married at 18, and it wasn’t a healthy relationship.
I didn’t know how to keep a clean house, and I had 3 kids under 3, the circumstances weren’t exactly in my favor.
But I remember saying “I’m going to fix this, I’m going to learn how to maintain a home.” And my husband at the time said, “There is no way. You can’t do it.”
That was wrong of him to say, and I hope you have support people in your life that encourage you by saying things like “You can do it! I believe in you!” And “How can I help?”
Unfortunately, many of us have had people in our lives who have planted seeds of doubt. So we doubt our ability.
Often to the extent that we don’t even want to start a project because we are so afraid we won’t be able to do it.
And if you long to simplify your space and create a home that is stupid-easy to maintain please know that it’s often 2 steps forward, 1 step back.
There are going to be days when you “fail.” but it’s ok; none of us can do it perfectly. Remember point number one? Let go of unrealistic expectations of yourself.
So what if we fail at doing the dishes? We have another opportunity tomorrow. Let’s try again, then.
3. The things that make you feel ashamed
We all have things in our homes that, when we see them, we feel ashamed of. This could be clothes in the closet with tags on it, it could be books someone gave us that we’ve never read or it might be a treadmill that’s sitting in the corner of the basement.
We have this idea that if we should suffer from making that poor decision. As if we need to pay penance.
And I’m here to say “no!” Life is too short to dwell on bad decisions. So what if you’ve made a bad decision about buying that blouse in the closet? We’ve all made bad decisions.
We can make a new decision. We can decide to let someone else enjoy that blouse – I can put it in the donation bin, and someone else can take enjoyment in finding such a good deal at the thrift store.
If we cling to those things we feel ashamed about – that is all they do, continue to make us feel bad about ourselves.
If the entire purpose of an item’s existence is to make me feel bad about myself, why would I want it in my life?
Let’s remove those items and give ourselves a break.
4. Your fantasy self
You know the person you fantasize about being? So often, we buy things for the life we want, not the life we’re actually living.
There are many fantasies we have –
We think we’ll read a bunch of books, so we buy them and then buy bookshelves – only to never read.
We think we’ll throw elaborate parties with gourmet food, so we have the stuff for beautiful tablescapes, only to never entertain.
This year, let’s embrace the person we truly are, enjoy the hobbies we enjoy, and let go of all those things that, no matter how cool it is, we know we’re not going to use any of it.
If you want to see the many fantasies I had to let go of on my journey to minimalism, I’ll put the link in the description as well as at the end of the video.
5. Things you keep out of fear
Some things we keep because we need them. This broom, I need this broom. But if I had 3 brooms – and I said, “I think I should keep things; I might need them someday.”
I wouldn’t be wrong. Someday, I might need them. But how often do brooms wear out? I’ve had this broom for eight years. If I keep two more brooms, I’m keeping them not out of practical need but out of fear.
Fear of what?
The answer is likely different for you than it would be for me.
I have a fear of being a wasteful person. I fear the shame I would feel if I decluttered a broom and then had to go purchase a new one in 5 years.
But so what? Should I hold onto a $15 broom for the next 20 years? During this, I had to work around it every time I put my current broom away. Is that making my life easier?
The problem isn’t that one broom. The problem comes when we have extra things in every area of our home – every drawer we open, every closet, every shelf – and if we add up all the time we spend during the day working around our extra stuff, it adds up quickly!
What did I do all day? I don’t know, but I sure was busy!
Yeah – busy working around all my extra stuff.
That’s why I embraced minimalism. I don’t want to spend time moving brooms. Or anything.
If you want a clear example of my fantasy self and all that I had to face embracing minimalism, here are a few articles: