I was in my Facebook group last week, and someone shared, “It finally happened.”
They had decluttered something and then regretted it.
That is a fear we all have.
In fact, it’s such a strong fear that it often prevents us from decluttering.
Is that fear valid?
And what can we do to avoid making decluttering mistakes?
Well, first off, we have to recognize that mistakes happen.
And everything we do has a consequence – if we eat too many brownies, we get a stomachache. If we miscommunicate, we have to clarify and clear things up.
Some of us easily acknowledge that people make mistakes and move on with life, not letting that stop us.
And then there are those of us who feel traumatized by our mistakes and try to avoid making any mistakes ever again. (At least with the communication, I’ve felt that way… but I never avoided brownies after a stomach ache!)
But regardless of our efforts, we cannot avoid mistakes; it’s part of life and learning.
It’s the same with decluttering.
We can take a cupboard full of miscellaneous items, sort, and make the best decisions possible, and there is a possibility that we will discard something we could use two months down the road.
We can either let that hold us back from decluttering, or we can simply accept that it is part of the process and learn from our mistakes.
It’s a risk I’m willing to take
Everything we do has some risk.
When we get married, we risk heartbreak and disappointment. But most of us figure it’s worth the risk: yes, we may face difficult things with this commitment, but having that committed relationship can also be wonderful and fulfilling.
Embracing minimalism has some risks as well.
We will not actually know how we feel with a minimal amount of possessions until we have decluttered so much that we only have a minimal amount of possessions.
There is a risk that we declutter 80% of our things and find that we actually enjoy maximalism.
It’s a possibility. But it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t declutter.
There is a cost to everything.
If we want to grow a garden, we have to put in the work of weeding, watering, planting, etc.
If we want a college degree, we have to study and take tests.
If we want the freedom that comes with having less, we have to say goodbye to some things we like and enjoy.
I’m not saying we should live in discomfort; I won’t get rid of everything I own and force myself to live in a bare home with only a blanket and pillow.
But if we want a home that is easy to take care of and all the time-freedom that comes from having less, we will have to walk through the pain of letting go of some items.
And we will have to risk the chance that we might discard things that we will regret.
It helps to keep things in perspective.
What is your perspective of the world?
I believe the world is temporal, and knowing that nothing in this world will last for eternity makes me not as attached to it.
I try to be careful not to fall into fatalism and therefore not put out effort for things – I do want to take care of the planet and not take part in the throw-away culture that we seem to be bombarded with. But I also don’t want to give value to things where there isn’t value.
Things are still things and are not as important as people.
It also helps me remember that I can’t be prepared for everything.
We all experienced this with Covid. We might have been prepared for all sorts of extreme situations, but were we prepared to have a shortage of toilet paper?
Which brings to mind: what do we want to be prepared for?
We might be prepared for all sorts of catastrophes… but are we prepared for the everyday? For having a neighbor stop by? For inviting a friend over for a cup of coffee? For having a plumber come and fix an issue?
All the food, craft supplies, books, and whatever else I hoard won’t help me be ready to have a friend over for coffee.
And when I look at what I truly want in life – it’s the relationships. I want people to feel welcome in my home. That is ultimately what I want to be prepared for.
A clean home, prepared for me to use.
Minimalism is a tool.
When I was toying with the idea of minimalism, I couldn’t manage my home.
And if I went back to collecting a lot of stuff… well, I have come to terms with the fact that the only reason I can manage my home is because there are not many items to manage!
I like things – I liked all the craft supplies and all the unread books and unused kitchen gadgets.
So it wasn’t easy for me to get rid of those things.
However, I was able to use minimalism as a way to establish boundaries for my home.
I set boundaries based on what I wanted minimalism to look like for me.
I decided minimalism for me meant I wouldn’t have a bunch of duplicates. I would pick the best tool for the job and let go of the sub-par ones.
I decided minimalism for me would be what we use on a daily and weekly basis for the majority of the stuff I could keep.
I decided minimalism for me would be enough clothes to make it one week between laundry days.
And I decided that minimalism for me would be enough furniture for everyone to have a place to sit, but nothing else.
And it worked.
Having less stuff meant the home was easier to manage!
Did I ever regret decluttering something?
Though I have had some issues with decluttering things, I could have used down the road. But I would never call it regret.
There have been times when I’ve been inconvenienced because I decluttered something. But it’s never been a huge regret.
In fact, the freedom that I found with having less stuff has meant so much to me that if I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t hesitate to take the risk.
What about all the “just in case” stuff?
I had to work through that, too! Click here to learn how to navigate “just in case” items.