There are 3 major clutter blocks that are preventing you from decluttering your space. Here is how to shift and heal your mindset.

Three Mindset Blocks That Are Keeping You in the Clutter

If you are having a tough time decluttering your house, there is a good chance that you are battling with one (or more) of these three “Clutter Block” mindsets. Whether we realize it or not, a lot of us are walking around with beliefs that are keeping us stuck in clutter. Today, I want to address three of the biggest decluttering blocks you need to let go of in order to start cleaning house, getting organized, and finally feeling like you have a handle on the clutter in your home. These are issues that I continually hear presented when I work one-on-one with clients, on my social media channels, and in my own personal life! All right, if you’re committed to clearing clutter, but something keeps stopping you, then read on and, hopefully, we can clear some Clutter Blocks together!

Clutter Block No. 1: I hate throwing things away

I think we can all agree that throwing stuff away just feels gross. Deep down, we all have that inner voice that’s screaming, “OMG, THIS IS SO WASTEFUL!” The tough part is that that inner voice is not wrong. It knows what’s up. This internal nudge we get that sets off alarm bells in our head is most likely programmed into us, thanks to our ancestors.

If you come from a long line of hard-working, penny-pinching war survivors, then you probably have that deep-seated internal desire not to waste. Thank goodness! This urge to preserve your things is probably working overtime if you come from an immigrant family or another marginalized group. The need to cling grows stronger if you have a history of trauma, perfectionism, or a family history of hoarding.

The need to save is hard-wired into a lot of us, which is why it can feel almost painful to hover a broken item over the garbage can and not quite be able to get your fingers to release their grip. That’s why, if you struggle to toss out unused or broken items, I’ve gathered a few reminders that can help you say your goodbyes and tie up that garbage bag without a second thought; although, it might take some practice.

Are these beliefs relevant to your life?

I still remember my mom telling me a story about how my grandma stopped eating lima beans because for years that was all her family ate. She stopped eating them because they were no longer relevant to her life or the times she was living in.

This is something we need to remember when we have an aversion to throwing things away. Remember, there is a good chance that internal cringe, from tossing out an old item, was probably handed down to you from someone who actually needed it. After all, science has shown that fearful memories are passed down through seven generations (of mice). This means you just might be carting around your great-great-great-great-great-grandpa’s fear of bathtub drains for no good reason. Oh, and his belief that nothing should ever be thrown away.

Waste not, want not.

Remember, for those who came before us, this desire to hang onto their things came because they were living in a time of scarcity. Food, clothing, and other things may have been difficult to come by. This is why flour mills started using floral prints for their flour sacks…so that little girls would have nice clothing when their mother’s made dresses from the bag. Waste not, want not, am I right?

Thankfully, the majority of us are not living in times like those. In fact, I’d be bold enough to say that, if you have a clutter problem in your house, you are not living in times of scarcity, you are living in abundance. However, that scarcity mindset that was handed down to you is still clinging on for dear life.

Balancing abundance

Because we are living in times of abundance (too much stuff, too much TV, too much news, too many unwelcome opinions from strangers…), the real problem we have is not in discarding things, but in accumulating too many things.

I’ll give you a minute to let that sink in.

We are not being wasteful when we throw things away that are broken or beyond repair. What becomes wasteful is how casually we consume. Sale at Walmart? Stock up on everything! Do we need these things? No, but they’re on sale. Who cares if they add to the pile of untouched items in our home collecting dust.

It’s much easier to listen to our hand-me-down brains than it is to rewrite new programming in our mind. Believe me, I’ve done it, so I speak from experience. Rather than clinging to the unused garbage in our home, in the name of not being wasteful, how about we agree to let go of what’s broken and actively work to slow the amount of new things we bring in.

After all, an unused item is already garbage, and, if we continue to bring more things into our home that will inevitably go unused, all we are doing is producing more garbage. No one wants that.

There are 3 major clutter blocks that are preventing you from decluttering your space. Here is how to shift and heal your mindset.

Clutter Block No. 2: What if this is worth something someday?

Let me make you a mini list of things that I have been told to hang onto because they might be worth something someday:

  • Barbies
  • Beanie Babies
  • Stuffed animals

First of all, can we just acknowledge how ridiculous and borderline cruel it is to buy children Barbie dolls, and then tell them that all they have to do to enjoy them is to keep them in their boxes, untouched on a shelf, for the next 30 years?

I’ve also taken the time to “calculate” just how much money I would have for sure made from these products in the last four years, but, since I’m not a spreadsheet kind of gal, I’ll make it really simple: I would have pretty much made the same amount of money that was originally spent on each item. Not to mention the fact that I would never have been able to enjoy or play with any of them.

The cost of clutter

What people don’t take the time to calculate, when they choose to own items that only offer a potential payoff, is that they are still paying to keep these items with their time and energy. Oh, and, sometimes, with actual cash.

The price of carting clutter around with you for decades often costs time packing, maintaining, and storing these things. If you have a significant amount of clutter that you’re struggling to let go of, this may turn into an actual financial expense.

I once heard a story of a woman whose mother insisted on carting around her Precious Moments doll collection for years. Once her mom passed, the woman was forced to remove these dolls from storage, but struggled to let go of them because she believed, as her mother had said, “they may be worth something”. They weren’t. Not only did her mother cart those around for decades, she also paid the cost of storing them every month. If we consider that the average cost of a storage unit is $100 per month, this easily adds up to $1,200 per year. Call me crazy, but simply choosing to put that money into savings every month would yield a higher payout. How to 10x Your Savings.

Selling your clutter

Another drawback to think of, even if you don’t pay for storing your collectibles, is that you will need to spend time, energy, and cash in order to get your items sold.

In a lot of cases, especially when it comes to collectibles, this will look something like this:

  • Setting up an online selling account (eBay)
  • Monitoring your account
  • Responding to messages
  • Making trips to shipping centers to send items and/or meeting with people to exchange items

What I’m saying is, at the bare minimum, we need to really think about the full cost of what it requires to attempt to make money from our items. Instead of gambling, on the hope that clutter might be worth something, why not get yourself set up with a sure bet?

Things that are guaranteed to earn money

Even though a lot of people are terrified at the idea of starting investing, it is statistically shown than you will make money, even if the stock market dips occasionally. If diving into investing still feels too scary, start with a simple investing app like Acorns. With just $50 per month, you could make yourself $150,000.

Perhaps investing is not your thing, in that case might I suggest a high yield savings account? These accounts are guaranteed to earn interest on any money that you save.

Lastly, maybe you don’t want to use your own money to make money. If that’s the case there are also a variety of passive income sources that have little to no start up costs that will allow you to start making money passively. Thanks to the internet, making passive income is easier than ever and is bound to yield a higher payout than hanging onto clutter.

There are 3 major clutter blocks that are preventing you from decluttering your space. Here is how to shift and heal your mindset.

Clutter Block No. 3: What if I need this someday?

Let’s be real, there is no bigger fear than opening your junk drawer, picking up that unknown, janky, twisted piece of plastic and being too terrified to throw it away. Deep down we often have this irrational voice in the back of our head telling us that if we get rid of this purpose-less item that has been rotting in our home for years, we will suddenly find out the next day that it was in fact that cure to cancer.

On top of the fear of throwing away items that may one day be useful, there is also a similar phobia that we might donate an item only to have the person who gave it to us suddenly show up at our front door yielding a pitchfork and demanding to know where the item is.

Are either of these scenarios likely? No. Does that make it any easier to get rid of them? Also, no.

Junk drawer decluttering is the key to self discovery

This is a bold statement, I know, but I am convinced that simply by allowing myself to be more comfortable with decluttering these what if items, I allowed myself to get more comfortable taking even bigger leaps in my life.

Think about it like this, if you can donate that item you’re afraid you’ll need someday, maybe soon you’ll be able to finally tell your mother in law to stop judging your housekeeping capabilities. It may take time, but you just might get there.

Taking the time to walk yourself through how irrational the fear of decluttering is can be a great first step to getting more comfortable clearing additional clutter. Here are some examples of questions you can ask yourself to ease your nerves around decluttering:

  • Have I needed this in the last year?
  • What is the worst thing that could happen if I got rid of this?

If trying to be rational with yourself fails you, then my final solution is The Maybe Bin.

The Maybe Bin

The Maybe Bin is a method that I share in my 4 bin decluttering system as a way to clear clutter from your space without having to commit right away to removing it from your home. Here’s how it works:

  • Store anything you’re afraid to get rid of in a bag or box.
  • Label the box with the location of where your items were originally located.
  • Check back in 6 months to a year.
  • If you haven’t needed any of the items, donate the container they are stored in.

This is a great method for helping ease you into decluttering while also helping you clear the spaces in your home so they feel more enjoyable to be in and easier to manage.

Ease into decluttering

Remember, decluttering doesn’t have to be a rushed process. You can take your time, make small moves and still create a big impact on your home. If you want to learn more about how I declutter in 30 seconds or less, and a deeper dive into my 4 bin declutter method, come join my FREE 3 Day Reset and I’ll send you all my favorite tips right to your inbox!

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There are 3 major clutter blocks that are preventing you from decluttering your space. Here is how to shift and heal your mindset.

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6 Comments

  1. I do resent the mother in law comment- hope we can get to a place of not perpetuating that stereotype. Many of us try really hard to be respectful mothers in law.

    1. Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I agree, I have an amazing mother in law. This was a comment I quickly added as I have heard from many women that this is a pain point for them. However, it most definitely doesn’t apply to all mother in laws.

    2. I noticed the mother in-law comment lol. I wasn’t offended though. I always tell my mother in-law that she gives mother in-laws a bad name because she is so good to me!! I’ve been her daughter for 36 years now! She truly is my second mother. I enjoyed this article, very helpful for me!

      1. I totally relate. My mother in law is amazing. We’re doing lunch this week! I’m so glad you found the rest of the article helpful as well!

  2. I sold my Barbies, clothes and pristine carrying case in the eighties for $350. But I agree with everything here. I was a Professional Organizer for 19 years along with being an inner city high school teacher for 31 years. I was constantly cleaning out my stuff. It’s very relaxing for me , even fun! The longer I live, the less I want in my house. I’ve gotten rid of truckloads.

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