What to do when guilt shows up while decluttering

Juni 07, 2021

Was tun, wenn beim Entrümpeln Schuldgefühle auftauchen?


Oh no, I can't get rid of this vase! We got it from Aunt Trudi at our wedding. I would feel awful throwing it away!

I'm sure you have experienced a similar sentiment many times while doing some decluttering.

You want your home more organised, so you do a routine sweep of sorting out, moving things, going through drawers and flicking through your wardrobe.

Maybe while sorting clothes after washing, you have thoughts like:

I don't like this shirt! Gosh, why did I buy it? What was I thinking of? I'm not 20 anymore! But it's hardly worn…

Hmm, do I need all these? Well, it can't hurt to have extra striped tops for the time being…

Or with a pocket paperback book you have already read, you might think:

It was good, but I won't reread it, and it's paper not hardbound. It is small, but still takes up some space. But Susi gave it to me...

And so the story goes round and round.

You never feel like it's done or that you are truly organised. There are just so many emotions coming up. And it can be very overwhelming.

Marie Kondo, tidying-queen and best-selling author of The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up, says: In the end, people are unable to discard things either because they are attached to the past or afraid of the future.

I don't need it but should I keep it in memory of…

It might come in handy, I'll hang on to it … 


So what's the trick to ease the process?

Kondo explains that there are two relatively easy ways to help with this process. And that will keep you from getting stuck in bad conscience and guilt.

The first one is, saying goodbye while expressing gratitude and saying thank you.

It might sound strange or feel awkward at first to talk to things. But trust me, I've tried it myself, and it really works!

You take the piece of clothing or whatever it is in your hands. For bigger objects, you put your hand on the object. Then look at it and be conscious while saying things like:

Thanks for teaching me what doesn't suit me.

Thanks for keeping me warm.

Thanks for all the fun we had.

The second thing you need to understand, which will also help you with discarding, is to remember that your things that don't spark joy for you anymore or that you don't need can make someone else happy!

Honestly, do you think those pants are happily squashed into your wardrobe, never coming out again? Or that piece of jewellery, or vase or book or diving set and on and on and on.

What's the point of keeping these things? Just so you can hang on to a guilt trip? Don't worry; the memories are still within you; they won't go anywhere.

But let this polka-dotted shirt go on living and make the day for someone else! Win-win situation.

Think about it, you can donate to different organisations or secondhand shops. You can sell items that still have value, especially if the money would come in handy for you. Or if something is too worn or has holes or is broken, you can give it to recycling.

13 years ago, I decided I didn't want any products of animal origin in my house since I learned about the awful ways animals are treated. I gave all my leather shoes to an animal-rights organisation that could sell them at a flea market.

Organisations doing good mainly depend on volunteer workers and donations and need all the money they can get.


The reward

You will notice that it’s almost like a burden has been lifted from your shoulders.

You don't hang on to things because you think you have to. You have gracefully shown gratitude for whatever this object has given you and now both you and the object can continue with your lives.

You feel more free and start to notice what actually sparks joy for you today.

Just like Marie Kondo says: The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.


Need help with decluttering and organising?

I would love to help you if you would like some support in discovering how to declutter and organise in a way that sparks joy – and is lasting.

I have just become a certified KonMari Organising Consultant, working after the KonMari Method®, which in my opinion, is the most effective way of doing this work.

I will be systematic, stress-free assistance to let go of items that no longer serve you. For now, contact me here, and we can set up an appointment for a talk to find out if this would be something for you.

I think you will find that with a little help, enjoying your everyday life is easier than you might imagine

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