Fear Busters for Clutter

                Ruth's living room

               Ruth's living room

More and more it looks to me like our clutter is a result of fear. Fear that we might need that box of doorknobs, fear that we are giving away something that has monetary value, and fear that we're going to forget the sweet memories that seem to be attached to particular items. Here are the top 3 statements I hear from people that keep them stuck in fear and clutter.

1. “I might need this someday.”

This is the rallying cry that keeps us overwhelmed and mired in our stuff. This is the statement that keeps towers of margarine tubs and stacks of unread magazines in homes. If you are ready to shed some stuff, rather than “I might need this someday”, consider the question “If I let this go, what’s the worst thing that could happen?”

2. “This might be worth some money.”

This can be true, but the majority of the time we assume items have a monetary value that they don’t.  Even when there is potential cash to be made, we never get around to researching the value and then finding the best marketplace. If you really believe the record albums are worth some money then you have to put the time and energy into selling them. Obviously, you won't get the payoff if you continue to leave them in the basement.

3. “I feel guilty about letting this go.”

We develop emotional attachments to stuff and that can make it hard to let go of even when we don’t really want them anymore. Maybe you have your grandmother's china hutch, an expensive pair of shoes that don't fit, or boxes of your children's art projects. If you are ready to consider letting these items go, here are some helpful strategies:

  • re-gift the set of dishes to someone you know will want them
  • take a photo of the dining room table as a proxy for the table
  • write about how you feel when you see the vases
  • make a quick piece of art to honor the emotions you feel when you look at the painting
  • my personal favorite, wear the dress one last time and savor its farewell tour


Noticing the fear chatter in your head while you're sorting through your clutter can be interesting, but you don't need to believe it... just because you think it. Simply continue to deal with your clutter, soon the sense of relief and peace will feel stronger than the fear. Keep moving forward and let me know if you want help.