How to Let Go of Stuff in Your House

That wool sweater you brought home from Ireland that itches like crazy. The fabric you bought ten years ago for a quilt you wanted to make. The collectibles your mother gave you. The exercise bike that’s gathering dust in your basement.

You don’t use or like any of these items anymore. In fact, looking at that pile of fabric stresses you out, as does the exercise bike. Yet, you hold on to them.


That’s why you can’t get rid of these—and many more—things that are cluttering your home. You feel guilty about the money you paid for the sweater. You feel guilty that you never made time to quilt and don’t exercise every day. And, of course, you feel guilty at the thought of getting rid of something your mother gave you.

Feeling Guilty Throwing Things Away

Now that we’ve identified the problem, let’s take a look at the solution—and the different types of guilt.

Financial Guilt. Sure, you paid good money for that sweater, but you are NEVER GOING TO WEAR IT. So the best way to cut your losses is to sell it on eBay or at a garage sale. Keeping it won’t get your money back.

Project Guilt.
You’re a good person. You really wanted to make that quilt. But, hey, it’s been 10 years. Whether you don’t have time to make the quilt or simply don’t feel like making the quilt anymore, that’s OK. You’re wasting a lot of good energy by looking at the pile of fabric and feeling guilty. Sell it or donate it.

Sentimental Guilt. This is perhaps the hardest type of guilt to overcome. But the fact is that we’d all be hoarders if we saved everything everyone ever gave us. At the same time, we’d all be heartless if we saved nothing. The key is to save the handful of things you love and use the most. If you don’t love something, honor your loved one by giving the item to someone who will enjoy and use it.

Self Improvement Guilt. Let’s get back to the exercise bike you never use—or treadmill or stepper, or whatever it is you may have. This was a big-ticket item and may require a bit more thought before getting rid of. Ask yourself why you don’t use it. Do you not enjoy this type of exercise—or have you simply not made time for it yet? If you simply don’t like it, sell the equipment or give it to someone who will use it. If you don’t have time, maybe downsize your goals. Ten minutes on the bike is not a great workout, but it’s better than zero minutes on the bike.

Difficulty Throwing Things Away

If you still can’t bring yourself to part ways with certain things, there is a way to cushion the blow a bit. Pack everything up in storage bins that you would like to get rid of, but can’t quite bring yourself to. Put the bins somewhere where they’re not in the way. In six months, check in with yourself and see if you have missed these items in any way.

If not, sell, donate, or discard them—and move forward with both less clutter and less guilt in your life.

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