Face Your Decluttering Fears!

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Public speaking makes me want to curl up in a ball and cry! Can you relate? I know I’m not the only one here.

Public speaking is ranked one if the highest fears… even scarier than dying.

This post is not about public speaking but let me explain how it relates to the fears we encounter when Decluttering.

I spoke to a friend who is a John Maxwell coach, about this shakiness I experience when I’m about to say something in front of many eyeballs.

I asked him, “are there breathing exercises I could do to help me master this feeling when I have to speak?”

He replied, “just breathe.” I told him I’m fine once I go for it but the leading up to it makes me want to cry.

Then he said something that hadn’t occurred to me.

He said, “maybe you are worried about getting it perfect”.

He suggested that I practice as much as I could until it becomes second nature.

Here’s the funny thing: Once I discovered what the real fear was, it became easier for me to face it!

That made me think about the many fears I see my clients encounter.

Here are some common fears on de-cluttering you can explore when you hit a wall in your de-cluttering efforts.


1.Fear of getting it wrong 

In other words, perfectionism. There is very little you can get wrong when it comes to getting organized.

However, it helps to know the steps to take to help you get to your desired outcome.

Start with the first two steps which are to Sort, and Purge.

Then once you know what items you are left with and what actually needs to be organized, continue with a brainstorming session to nail down on what you would like it to look like and then buy the organizing solutions.

Always, focus on progress, not perfection and just get started.

2.Fear of not having enough or of running out

It’s the feeling you get when you see all the shirts or shoes you have and feel like you can’t part with any of them even though your space is filled to the max.

I read a quote once that stuck with me ever since. It said something like this: “The fear of not having enough is strong.

But, fear does not know what is good for you. Take this feeling as an opportunity to gauge what enough feels like to you.”

I am also reminded of the Bible verse in Matthew 6:26 that says:

“See the birds of the sky, that they don’t sow, neither
do they reap, nor gather into barns. Your heavenly Father
feeds them. Aren’t you of much more value than they?”

It’s important to remember that we have been provided for and we always will be.

3.Fear of being wasteful or Guilt 

This type of emotion comes up when you come across something that has been hiding in your closet that you purchased and didn’t use, or items gifted to you that you don’t love.

It’s important to stop for a second and analyze why you brought that item home in the first place and what you learned about yourself through not using it.

This will not only help you make wiser shopping decisions but also allow you to analyze realistically whether you will use it or if it will continue in a corner.

If you are still struggling here are a few questions to help guide you.

Can you get the money back? Via a return or selling?  Is returning or selling the item worth your time?

Selling is a time-consuming process that involves taking proper pictures, research, listing, answering questions and inquiries, and finally meeting or waiting for the buyer.

Most often than not, it cost you more time, energy, or money to try to sell the item.

Donating is the fastest way to help you restore the peace in your home. Take advantage of the tax write-off, instead.

Plus think about how liberating it will be to no longer wear or look at something that makes you feel so uncomfortable……


4.Fear of getting rid of it and then needing it “someday” 

First identify if the item is in the right location. Is it in the right zone?

For example, is the tape in with the office supplies? Is the dog leash with the dog supplies? Basically, is the item at its point of use.

Next ask yourself: Have I used this in the past six months? Have I searched for this in the past year? Do I have a foreseeable event coming up where I might need this? If I were to need this, how easy would it be to replace it?

Then, use the 20/20 rule.

If it cost less than $20 and you’d have to drive less than 20 miles to replace it, then it is a good candidate for donating today.

5.Fear of losing the memory 

  You won’t lose the memory!

The memory is not in the item, it is in your heart.

Now, consider whether this is the best representation of that memory. 

Often times we have a picture of the day we went camping with our family, where we purchased that souvenir.

Those pictures may show your family smiling, hugging, playing, and being present, the pictures may be a better representation of that day.

Also, consider digitizing old photos so that they can be stored electronically, rather than having them take up valuable real estate in your home.

In the end, decluttering feels really good!  Do you know what is the one thing I see every-time someone pushes through these fears?…… Relief! It’s as if all they needed was permission to let go.

“Did one of these fears stick out more to you than others? Have you overcome this fear?”

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  1. I encounter all of these, both with clients and with myself. Was just talking with someone last night about the fear of losing the memory. It is powerful… but it led to a good conversation about how best to trigger a memory. There are options, and some may be better than the physical object itself!

    • Hi, Lisa,

      I hear you! This is a very common fear. I think the most important thing we can do sometimes is set it aside and deal with the easier clutter that surrounds us. Quieting the visual noise, of the clutter we are certain about, helps us to move forward so that we can search deeper regarding the more emotional items.

      I find that sometimes this fear of being wasteful can also translate into the feeling of being thought of as ungrateful. Which isn’t so. This journey of de-cluttering is definitely a journey of self discovery. Keep at it and thanks for visiting.



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