Do you self-sabotage your decluttering in this way?

This post is the written version of Day One of the Minimalist Mindset course.
We all have these stories that we tell ourselves, and much of what we say in our mind is only a belief, a story.

And as humans, we like to be right. We’ll go to great lengths to prove ourselves right-

“Look: the house is trashed again. I knew I couldn’t do it. I knew it was too good to be true.”
Sometimes this comes from the past if we had a critical parent, boss, or spouse who made remarks. It might not even be dramatic abuse, but things they said impacted us and began the negative self-talk in our minds. And we’ve allowed it to live there, to take root and become part of our identity.

Some examples of negative self-talk:

  • I’m a messy person, it’s just who I am.
  • It doesn’t matter how hard I try, I can’t keep a clean house- especially with kids.
  • I can’t get rid of things, I’ve never had enough money, and I won’t be able to replace it if I actually need it.
  • I don’t have time to keep up with the house.
  • I don’t have the energy to work on this every day.
  • I need time off work to get anything done.
  • I can’t declutter with children around.

So, let’s work through these a little bit.

First off “I don’t have the time.”

I get it- I have 6 kids, I run a business, and I’m involved in a ministry. I completely understand this statement! But let’s break it down a bit:

Ok, do you really not have time for things? Do you have time to sit down and scroll through Facebook or browse Pinterest? Do you have time to read blog posts or watch the news? Do you have time to binge-watch Netflix? Or veg in front of that week’s new drama series?

The thing is, we have time for whatever we make our priority. I have things that distract me- I can get into a fiction book and not want to put it down, I can spend hours scrolling through my Instagram feed.
I can find all sorts of things to do to avoid doing the things I don’t want to do. I’ll take on house improvement projects and experiment with new recipes just so I can tell myself I’m too busy to do something.

Another lie we tell ourselves is: “I have to keep things because it would be a waste of money to get rid of it.”

I’ll tell you upfront: Your sanity in having a clean house is worth more than any amount of “savings.”
Most of the time, we keep things because we think we’re saving ourselves money because we have extra “just in case” so we won’t have to purchase anything again. But is it really saving us money? Most of the time, the “just in case” items are very inexpensive to replace.
Or we say that because we’ve struggled with having enough money. But if that’s you, think through it: do you have enough money to pay your bills? Do you have enough money to get yourself new clothes when your old ones wear out? If you are here, reading my blog to declutter your home, you have to admit that it has been very easy for you to acquire the things you need. And we don’t need money to do it- When we’re in need, all we have to do is say something, and people give!

Another one I personally told myself is, “I’m a messy person. It’s who I am.”

The truth is we are who we choose to be.
I didn’t HAVE to be a messy person. I was never a writer until I started writing regularly. And now, I am a writer. It’s the same for a clean house – I wasn’t a tidy person until I started picking up after myself every day. And now, I am a tidy person!
When I look back over the last 15 years- I am a completely different person; my home is completely different. The transformation is truly amazing. And I’m living proof that IT IS POSSIBLE.

Imagine for a moment that your life is a big hot air balloon

And every single one of these things that you have come to believe or say to yourself is a tether holding you to the ground.
You have to address every single one of those lies as you walk all around the base of the balloon before you can lift off and fly the balloon, which is what we all want to do.
What you believe about yourself is your reality. Whatever you focus on comes about in your life. The things that you think about are a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because we strive to prove ourselves right.

You do have time, you do have the ability, and you can succeed; you just need to believe it.

To do the following exercise, you need a piece of paper folded in the middle to divide it into two columns.
Take time today to sit down and think about the lies that you tell yourself. These are what we call limiting beliefs. (Because it’s a belief that limits you- when you believe you are born messy and will never change, it’s going to limit your ability to change.)

Write these beliefs/lies in the left-hand column, then in the right column, write down the truth that needs to replace the previous negative thought.

So if the first one is “I never have time to declutter or clean the house,” That would be a lie. And the truth would be, “I have the time to do what I need to do.”

If your lie is “I am too tired to work on the house.” The truth is “I have enough energy to do what I need to do.”

If you say, “I’m a messy person.” Then change that to “I enjoy living in a clean space.”

If you say, “I can’t do anything with the kids around.” Then change that to “I am capable of keeping house and teaching my kids to work with me.”

When you write your truth, make sure it’s positive- you want your truths to lift you up and inspire you. To help you focus on the goal.

(I personally avoid using the word clutter anywhere in my truth statements- even if you say “clutter-free,” the emphasis is still on CLUTTER. So instead, I focus on “clean, tidy, neat, clear, empty, organized.”)

Then, when you go to do the dishes and that little grumpy voice pops into your head and starts complaining… Stop your thoughts and repeat your positive truth “I love having the dishes done.” Turn on some music you enjoy, or diffuse essential oils to uplift you.

I’m not going to guarantee that you will thoroughly love doing the dishes after a few weeks of this, but you won’t HATE them anymore. 😉

Each time you are decluttering or working on your daily routines, some of these lies are going to come up and you may need to refer back to your paper, so you can remind yourself what the truth is, and sometimes you might discover a lie that you hadn’t addressed yet, so you will need to take the time to write it out and figure out what the truth is in that situation.

This is a written example of Day 1 of the Minimalist Mindset course- the Minimalist Mindset has 21 days of journaling prompts to help you shift your mindset about physical possessions, how you spend your time, and the people and things you surround yourself with.

For more information, you can click here.

We all have these stories that we tell ourselves and much of what we say in our mind is only a belief, a story. As humans, we like to be right. We’ll go to great lengths to prove ourselves right.

About Rachel Jones

Hi there! I’m Rachel Jones, and I founded Nourishing Minimalism in 2012 at the beginning of my minimalist journey after I'd been doing a yearly decluttering challenge for 4 years and started to see a change in my home. If you're looking for encouragement in your journey, please join our FREE Facebook Group: Nourishing Minimalism Facebook Group


  1. Julie L on 09/26/2020 at 7:44 pm

    Agree so much! I’ve been telling myself the truth to get more tidy and declutter instead of these self sabotage thoughts and you know it’s interesting that it’s not just me who get these thoughts. Spiritual battle maybe? Keeping us from doing good things and instead wasting time organizing all our stuff?
    Btw the pic of the overflowing sink used to be my kitchen a few years ago and the anxiety that hit me when I saw that pic was nuts! Thank you God I don’t do that anymore and thank you Rachel for helping me!

  2. Melinda on 01/25/2021 at 8:21 pm

    Hi Rachel,
    I had forgotten to get my 2021 calender until Jen from Hidden Hoarder reminded me. How did that happen?? Last year I finished 2!

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