Why do I have clutter, how can I let it go?

Clutter is different for everyone but most people have some clutter in their lives. There are many reason why it can be hard to let go of things.  Let’s look at 4 scenarios.

Scenario 1: Fear 

Perhaps it is fear that causes you to hold onto things

  • What if I need it someday – fear of scarcity
  • I’ll keep it just in case – fear of uncertainly and doubt
  • I can’t give that away it was a gift – fear of rejection
  • I can’t decide so I’ll keep it and what if it is worth something someday – fear of making mistakes

In an article by Hellen Bittigieg, she talks about: Steps to eliminate your fears and conquer the clutter

  1. As you sort through your items notice the thoughts that come up and begin to acknowledge them, say okay now you’ve got my attention.
  2. Notice where you feel the fear in your body, stomach, chest head ache?
  3. Analyze the fear and try to understand where it’s coming from then thank it and move on
  4. Replace fear with trust
  5. What if I need it someday replace it with all my needs are abundantly supplied
  6. I’ll keep it just in case – replace it with what are the odds I’ll ever need to replace it?
  7. I can’t give that away it was a gift – replace it with my real friends always love and support me
  8. I can’t decide so i’ll just keep it – replace it with I’ll make a decision and trust that everything will be okay
  9. What if it’s worth something someday – replace it with it will never be more valuable than joy, health, friendships etc

Scenario 2: Sentimentality

I have clients who if they touch an object they will automatically keep it, so I hold up the object and don’t let them touch it when they are deciding to keep it or give it away.  Other clients need to touch an item before they can donate it, it is like saying good by to it.

The sentimentality we feel towards an object can be associated with:

  • Someone you loved gave it to you or
  • Someone you once loved used or
  • The object is associate with a time when you were happy. ( memorabilia)

Being able to separate the object from a person or event can be difficult . Learning that you can still have the memory and the corresponding feeling without having the object will help you to be able to let go of  items.

Scenario 3: Control / Personality

Clients will hire me and want me to do their plan.  As I work with them and make a few suggestions about alternative ways to organize things generally they say no and then at our next appointment they usually say I thought about your idea, let’s try it.


  • People want to have control over their decisions and environment. Avoiding power struggles over decisions about what stays and what goes and make decluttering easier.

Scenario 4: The cost of getting rid of stuff

I have clients who want to make lots of money selling their stuff.  Sometimes it is possible and sometimes it isn’t. They will hold onto stuff for garage sales, to put on Kijiji or EBay.  Sometimes they hold onto it for so long that it has lost its value. They think,”I paid good money for it.”

PSSST: The money is already spent…..

Just because it was costly to purchase does not mean that it’s valuable today! Items change in value. What’s important is whether you are using what you have now or,  if what you have is distracting you from the lifestyle you want. If you are not loving, using and enjoying your things,  reconsider their ‘value’.

The important thing is to discover what reasons make it hard for you to let go of things and change those mindsets.

There are 3 things that are true

  • We all have too much stuff
  • It is hard to let go of our own stuff
  • One day we will part with our stuff.


Join my Facebook Group Organizing Mind and Space 

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Contact her at julie@mindoverclutter.ca


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  1. Janet Barclay on June 12, 2017 at 5:28 am

    I thought my issue was indecision, but when I started to write it out, I realized it’s actually fear that I’ll regret getting rid of something. Thanks for helping me see that – I think next time it will be easier to make that decision!

    • Julie Stobbe on June 12, 2017 at 9:32 pm

      You’re very welcome. Understanding what is stopping you from letting go is the first step.It is always the first step that is the hardest and next steps come more easily.

  2. Olive Wagar on July 3, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    Good list of reasons, Julie! Too often we overestimate the value of excess items and underestimate the cost of keeping them. Let’s be honest–most are way past their prime of usefulness!! And yes, we will all part with this stuff one day. Why not do yourself and your family a huge favor by reducing the quantity now!

    • Julie Stobbe on July 4, 2017 at 1:32 pm

      Donating and parting with items involves the person’s mindset around being charitable, practical and sentimental. It can be very hard to find a balance so a person is easily capable of letting go of items. It is never really about the actual item.

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