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You absolutely know you need to declutter.
What do you actually let go and what do you hold onto?
Well, there are lots of handy little guides around. Telling you the questions to ask.
“Did I wear it in the last year?” “Would I buy it now?”
All very sensible. Except – for lots of us – they do NOT work.
They are too sensible. And too rational.
And we have so much stuff AND cling onto it BECAUSE of deep emotional needs.
NOT for rational reasons.
So to declutter successfully we need to ask questions that tap into those emotions.
And that’s kind of what the “Does it spark joy?” question from Marie Kondo tries to do.
BUT unfortunately for lots and lots of us that question doesn’t work either!
And that’s BECAUSE of 3 big forces:
- We CLING onto random stuff because we are anxious
- Our problem is with our HOARD of stuff NOT with individual items
- Our high speed world tells us everyday we NEED to buy more lovely things
Together they produce the most potent cocktail of emotions.
That make it super hard to stop buying OR to let go of things we cannot possibly enjoy.
However, lovely they may be. And however, much they may spark joy.
SO you scream WHAT AM I MEANT TO DO?
Are there actually any questions that will help me declutter?
Well YES there are! These 3 …
- Am I ready to let this go?
- Will I be happier without?
- Could someone else enjoy this more?
They sound so simple don’t they? BUT don’t be fooled.
They go to the HEART of our emotional relationship with clutter.
So how do they work? How can you use them practically to declutter. Here’s how.
1. Am I Ready To Let This Go?
Most of us with lots of clutter struggle to let go.
Of anything. And the more we have, the harder it becomes.
Our emotional ability to let go becomes like a muscle long wasted from lack of exercise.
So we need to strengthen it, little by little by daily use.
And we do this by looking out everyday for any simple little things we are ready to let go.
An empty nail varnish bottle. An old ticket. An odd sock.
By letting go of just 10 things every day we become better and better at it.
Stick to the habit and your answer to the question will be transformed!!
Within weeks you will find yourself able to let go of items you previously clung to.
BUT there will still be lots of things that actually DO spark joy!
Beautiful clothes. Wonderful books. Smart technology.
AND that’s where question two comes in.
2. Will I Be Happier Without?
Your clutter is making you pretty miserable, right?
You wouldn’t be reading this if it wasn’t.
But unfortunately within all that clutter is lots of lovely stuff.
Stuff that’s lovely in itself. And stuff with precious memories attached.
So we have really strong emotions telling us to hold onto this stuff.
AND to let it go, we NEED to tap into our strength of feelings about clutter.
How miserable and mad and ashamed and out of control it makes us feel.
I found it helpful to write down all those big angry emotions.
I can then weigh those feelings against my urge to cling on.
They help me know I WILL be HAPPIER WITHOUT so many things however lovely they are individually. And that nudges me gently to make choices.
Owning so many books, so many clothes, so many toys, so many nick nacks is making miserable so which will I be happier without?
It’s not a simple rational question. It’s messy and muddled.
But my motivation to own less is so great, I find I am able to answer it.
AND let more stuff go!
Particularly, if I ALSO tap into question 3.
3. Could Someone Else Enjoy This More?
This is in our house is known as the Woody – as in Toy Story – question.
And it’s my 7 year old’s favourite way to work out what she’s ready to let go.
I LOVE it because it channels the most wonderful of human emotions – empathy.
Rather than all that negative anxiety and and need to grab stuff and cling on.
All you need to do is remember how at the end of Toy Story 3, Andy lets go of his childhood toys because he knows little Bonnie down the road will enjoy them more.
And see if you can imagine someone enjoying your stuff more than you.
And, amazingly, we found the question had an extra powerful twist.
Once we could imagine someone else enjoying our stuff, we felt less need to own things full stop!
It was like we broke a spell.
That had long imprisoned us in a belief we could only be happy if we owned things.
We’ve discovered that more and more we truly are happier without.
And it’s more fun borrowing.
So there you go.
3 super powered questions that tap into your feelings about clutter and help you let go.
I hope they help. BUT if you need more support letting go of your clutter read these …
- 10 Signs You Need To Declutter
- Learn To Let Go – A 3 Step Declutter Plan
- Just 10 Things – Simple Decluttering That Works
- 5 Big Declutter Dos and Don’ts