The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.”– Thich Nhat Hanh
DECLUTTERING YOUR HOME: THE EMOTIONAL CHALLENGES
There comes a time when it’s necessary to declutter your home and go through the process of sorting your belongings and parting with those that aren’t necessary.
If you are planning on aging in place, it can be very good to streamline your surroundings and organize your home in a way that you can:
- Have easy access to the things you need.
- Enjoy memories stored up in photos, letters and mementos.
- Find critical things quickly and within a safe reach.
- More easily navigate through your home, especially if you have any mobility issues.
For seniors moving into a smaller, more manageable space, decluttering is an inevitable step as you prepare for this next stage of life in your new right-sized home.
Decluttering can be an extremely satisfying experience but also one that takes time and causes you to deal with a variety of different emotions.
COMMON EMOTIONAL CHALLENGES WHEN DECLUTTERING
1. Fear you might regret getting rid of a certain item
Holding onto a particular item due to the fear that you might need it someday is probably something most of us have experienced.
It could be an out-of-style pair of pants, workout equipment that you don’t use anymore or tools you haven’t looked at in ages. These are typically the things that end up sitting at the back of your closet, in your basement or in your garage untouched for more years that you can remember.
The key is not to let excess belongings hold you back from creating the ideal atmosphere and living situation in your home. You should critically assess whether you actually need or envision needing a particular item in the future and if the answer is no, it’s time to part with it.
2. Fear you could lose out on something valuable
Fortunately there is eBay and appraisers to help address this fear. Simply look up the item on eBay to get a realistic idea of the current market value. If it is something you believe could be very valuable, consider having it appraised. From there you can decide whether you prefer to sell or hold onto the item.
3. Feelings of guilt due to getting rid of a gift or something inherited
I’m the first to admit that it can be challenging to get rid of something that was a gift, was handed down to me or was inherited from a family member.
Family dynamics and nostalgia definitely can come into play, leading to feelings of guilt. I’ve found it helps to take your emotions out of the process and assess these items with the goal of creating a cleaner, organized and more functional home in mind.
4. Concerns about where the item might end up
Some people might feel guilty letting go of something that once had value to them without knowing where it will end up and whether it will ultimately be appreciated.
Try to think of it this way – is it better for that item to sit in the back of your closet untouched or to be donated where there is the chance it will go to someone who needs it more?
5. Feelings of nostalgia that make it difficult to decide whether to part with a certain item
This is one of the biggest challenges when trying to declutter. Sentimental memorabilia like old books, souvenirs, childhood toys, etc. can be difficult to part with and for good reason. These items can have an emotional hold over you.
There is no clear solution to overcome this but here are a few things to consider that might help. Getting rid of sentimental items does not mean you’re devaluing that time of your life. Your memories aren’t in physical objects. You can still hold onto and celebrate those memories and moments even if you part with these sentimental items.
However if you love a particular piece and it brings you joy, by all means keep it.
6. Feeling overwhelmed
Feeling overwhelmed when thinking about decluttering and figuring out where to start is quite common. It can be challenging to get motivated if you do not have a clear plan for how to sort and decide what to get rid of and what to keep.
You can always pick up a copy of one of Marie Kondo’s books or watch her show “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” on Netlfix for some inspiration and guidance.
For larger decluttering projects, you might consider hiring a professional home organizer. There are a number of services out there that specialize in helping seniors and their families downsize, declutter, sort and organize.
Decluttering can be a time-consuming and emotional task but if you have clear goals and are prepared for the various emotions you might face, it will be more manageable and less challenging.