Guilt, obligation and a fear of causing offence and upset are common reasons why people hold on to possessions which add little or no value to their lives.
Comments I hear regularly from clients include:
“I can’t get rid of that – X (now deceased) gave it to me”
“I can’t let that go, it was only recently gifted”
“I need to keep that, Y might ask after it”
“Before I donate that, I should ask Z if they want it back”
We’re emotionally blackmailing ourselves into keeping clutter. It costs us. And it has to stop.
Let’s get some perspective. It’s just stuff. It isn’t a person. It doesn’t have feelings.
But, hang on, can it really be that simple? some might counter. X, Y or Z will be down right offended if/when they find out I’ve donated this item! You say it’s just stuff- but I will hurt someone’s feelings if I get rid of it. Stuff and feelings are connected!”
The truth is, in this situation, it isn’t even ABOUT the stuff. That’s just a smokescreen for deeper emotional issues within these relationships. The stuff IS just stuff. But the feelings are real and the hard truth is the dysfunction will exist with or without physical objects.
The solution isn’t keeping the stuff to save feelings temporarily. It’s addressing the dysfunction permanently – if you want or are able to. Otherwise, choosing not to feel the guilt imposed from other people. Or yourself.
Yes, it is possible to declutter guilt!
The aim, as I see it, is achieving security both in how you feel about yourself and within the relationship in question.
Think of it this way: If you feel secure in a relationship. Loved, appreciated and valued. Would you really feel offended if the said loved one donated or re-gifted something they simply weren’t going to use? Why would you? You already feel appreciated. Making the wrong call about a gift isn’t going to rock that solid foundation of trust that took time and effort to cultivate.
You would be able to assume that the receiver both appreciated the gift AND decided to pass it on. The two can co exist.
Dysfunction sometimes runs deep and you can’t always fix it easily. The best chance of a fix lies in creating connection through experiences. So spend time, money and effort there instead. Because the stuff really is ‘just’ stuff.