by Susan McCarthy
Everyday practice: Notice that holding onto items "just in case," is about avoiding making a decision. Does avoiding the decision help you avoid the clutter that's been bothering you?
Chances are that while you’re decluttering you encounter items that you don’t know what to do with. You know that you haven’t used it. You might even be clear in the knowledge that you don’t like or care for the item. But …
You can’t make yourself put the item in the trash or the donation box. You think, “What if _____?” and decide that you should hold onto this unwanted item “just in case.” And you tuck it away in the attic, basement, garage, shed, spare room, corner of your laundry room, or … back where you found it.
You’ve decided to hold off on deciding. Although, really, you did decide. You decided to keep an item that you don’t use or want.
Reasons You Hold onto Unwanted Items
There are many reasons for holding onto an item as opposed to tossing it, giving it away, or donating it.
Storage Spaces Hold a Lot of Emotional Baggage
When you delay making a decision about an item and put the item into storage, you are filling that storage space with emotional as well as physical baggage.
This makes storage spaces challenging areas to declutter. You’ve already handled these items and decided that you weren’t going to decide. And that delayed decision creates an open loop.
Think of a circle with a gap that prevents the curved line from becoming a circle. You want to close the gap and complete the circle. When you delay making a decision, these open loops call out to be closed.
That’s why walking into one of your storage spaces feels so draining. You already know that you held off deciding and that if you start decluttering this space then you’ll need to face those items again.
Decide to Eliminate Clutter
Holding onto items that you don’t like, use, or even want traps you in the past (including the future that you had hoped for in the past). These items clutter your view of the life you are living right now.
There is no easy way to carry out decluttering these items. Start by picking up an item and ask why you’ve held onto it. Next, turn that reason around.
Now, these responses may seem somewhat laborious, and in the beginning, it can take some time to untangle yourself from an item. However, once you come up with a response, you can use it again for other items. “Oh, here’s another item that I thought that I’d use more often than I have. Oh, well, I haven’t used it and I can’t see myself using it now, so I’ll pop it into my donation box.”
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The Organized Squirrel, Susan, shows you how acorns (small habits) can grow into oak trees (a better life).