I understand the emotional attachment to stuff

I love the idea of minimalist living. I strive towards it, in fact. (At a snails pace, yes, but still – I’m striving!)

Those who are naturally minimally inclined don’t quite understand the emotional turmoil that some of us feel when we try to take on the (should be freeing) task of de-cluttering. So this post is for all you emotionally attached clutter bugs out there. The ones who WANT to live in a clutter free space, but struggle because you feel controlled by your stuff. 

I get it. I am high-anxiety, seriously over-sensitive, and easily overwhelmed. Or at least I can be (I’ve really come a long way in learning to deal with anxiety). I work everyday to bring my Sane Self to the surface. (That’s what I like to call the little voice of reason that allows me to function – when I choose to listen to her – and I do that more and more these days).

Related: Bathroom Cupboard Organization: Facing the Truth Under the Bathroom Sink
Related: How to Clean Your House When You Feel Paralyzed by THE MESS


I’ve learned 4 little tricks to make de-cluttering easier

De-cluttering is something I have worked on a lot the past couple years and man do I love how it feels to live in a home with less stuff. It hasn’t been easy.

If anyone can benefit from these tricks I’ve learned to make it easier – well that’d be the icing on the cake. So let me walk you through a typical (for me) de-cluttering session:

(First I tell myself that I will do it no matter how hard it is, because I can do hard things.)

# 1 – Get Permission

The first drawer goes ok.

I get the un-used, broken, don’t-even-know what this is into a box and I feel pretty proud of myself. Then I pick up something that I KNOW needs to go… but it can’t because (insert ridiculous reason here).

In the past I would have become discouraged, given up and probably drank some wine. But now I do this:

GETTING RID OF THE THING TRICK # 1: I call someone who I know values a tidy house and understands the burden that excess stuff can be (usually my mom, because she also understands how hard this is for me) and I explain that I need permission to get rid of the thing.

I’m no psychologist and I can’t tell you why this works, but having someone else’s permission and support to get rid of the thing helps immensely.

Related: A Simple Solution to Clutter & Disorganization

# 2 – Turn the tables

So then I continue, encouraged.

Until I pick up something that someone gave to me. (This totally derails my de-cluttering train.)

I WANT to get rid of it (oh the guilt)!

But I can deal with it because I’ve learned:

GETTING RID OF THE THING TRICK # 2: I imagine that I was the one who had given this thing to someone else and I know that if the thing I gave them was causing them this much stress, I would feel terrible! I would WANT them to get rid of the thing.

I never gave it to them to burden them. So chances are (very) good that whoever gave me this thing wouldn’t want me burdened with it either. They would want me to get rid of it. Plus it helps to remember that I am emotionally attached to stuff, and other people ARE NOT. There is also a good chance that the gifter doesn’t even remember giving me this thing and just sees it as a thing. 

# 3 – Ask for help

Then I get to the thing I can not get rid of.

There is no way. I sort of want to, but my resolve is going and I need this thing for absolutely no reason. I can’t.

GETTING RID OF THE THING TRICK # 3: I get someone else to get rid of it for me. I have to say, I don’t do this very often, and I do it less as I get better at allowing my Sane Self to be heard.

But sometimes, I call my mom (‘cus really, who else am I gonna admit this level of crazy to?!) and I ask for help.

# 4 – Get rid of the thing… NOW

I’m done for the day, so I set the box of stuff on the spare bed. I’ll donate it next time I go to town. I feel ok right now about the things I’m getting rid of, and even if some of it was difficult to imagine parting with, at least I got it in the box so I can start coming to terms with the fact that it’s gone.


I’ve noticed that 89% of the time I never even think of the thing again after it’s out of the house.

(Ok I made that # up, but it’s A LOT of the time.)

I’ve also noticed that if the box stays on the spare bed, the stuff will get out of the box.

Related: 7 Tangible & Life-Changing Benefits of Decluttering

GETTING RID OF THE THING TRICK # 4: get rid of the thing. Now. While you feel determined, while you have permission, while you understand why it needs to go.

Drive that box right to the thrift store, to the donation bin, to the dump if it’s stuff no one else will use. Do not let all your hard work go to waste.

You can do this. You can conquer the clutter. Your stuff does NOT have to control you. (Plus once you have conquered clutter it is SO much easier to stop being messy.)

Also, consider addressing the disorganization in your home – FOR GOOD. Sometimes just decluttering isn’t enough.  

Addressing the disorganization in my home took me a LONG way towards keeping clutter at bay.

But I didn’t know where to start, with getting organized and I actually needed someone to TEACH me how to do it.

If your house is constantly buried in clutter and mess, check out The Organized Home Course by Hilary from Pulling Curls. It is created just for people like us, who need to be given  bite-sized tips & lessons on organization so we know where stuff is, save time & feel more peace at home. (Because we do ACTUALLY deserve to feel at peace in our homes!)

This is the perfect course for organizing a messy home if:

  • You always need hours of notice before having guests because you’re embarrassed about the state of your home.
  • You’re always worried you misplaced an important document or won’t be able to find things when you need them.
  • You’ve ever wondered why can’t YOU enjoy peaceful time on the couch or enjoying your family instead of always stressing out about the state of your home?

If you need someone to TEACH you how to address clutter and get organized, Hilary is your girl, and you can get 10% off the course here with the code MOP10. 

I have had to be very intentional about making sure stuff leaves my house. (I’ve also become very intentional in making sure stuff doesn’t come into my house.)

(My Sane Self gets to celebrate with a glass of wine. And when my Sane Self is happy, everybody’s happy.)

More from Mommy on Purpose:
For the Exhausted Mommy
10 Things I Quit Buying to Save Money
Tackling Clothing Clutter: Confessions of a Clothes Hoarder



clutter organization ideas how to have a clutter free home

declutter when you are emotionally overwhelmed