Let It Go - The Psychology Of Clutter

Letting Things Go

You aren’t what you own. Don’t let the things you own, own you. Learn to let go.

You’ve heard all these clichés before. Maybe you even believe there is some wisdom in them. Maybe you’ve even said them before.

But you are still no closer to decluttering your home are you? You still have boxes piled in the garage and drawers overflowing with who-knows-what. Maybe you even began a decluttering challenge, but you couldn’t finish or you didn’t end up getting rid as much stuff as you wanted to.

It just all means something to you. You have a connection with all your things. There is a story behind it. Each little piece.

You’re not alone. Clutter may seem like the result of laziness, carelessness, or just living a busy lifestyle –something you’ll get around to sometime. But it actually isn’t. That’s too dismissive. There are psychological reasons why some people tend to clutter or accumulate.

The inability to discard unused items can be attributed to the basic human reluctance to change, ADHD, or separation anxiety. We enjoy our old (even obsolete) items because they remind us of our past and can even serve as protection from an uncertain future.       

Look around at your own space. It sends a message about how open you are to change and rebuilding.

Psychology Today says, “Look around at your own space. It sends a message about how open you are to change and rebuilding.”

If your home is cluttered with items from children long grown, past relationships, or even inherited items from deceased family that you don’t have a place for but can’t bring yourself to discard, it probably speaks to your inability to move beyond these challenging moments in life. You are clinging to a life that no longer exists.

If this describes you, you shouldn’t despair. It doesn’t mean you are riddled with psychological issues or that you are crazy. In fact, most people are reluctant to change and cling to reminders of our past. Most people accumulate clutter and have way more than they need in their house.

You can use the act of discarding clutter as way to grow as a person and move on from painful or life-changing events that have happened in your past. Don’t make it about the items. Make the process about you as a person. Who are you now? And who do you want to be in the future?

Who are you now? And who do you want to be in the future?

Letting go requires a shift in viewpoint, a change in the perspective from which we are accustomed to seeing our homes and our lives. It involves removing ourselves emotionally from our items. It requires creating a definition of who we are that doesn’t involve others. You are not your children’s parents or your parents’ child. You are _________ .

Filling in that blank can be a turning point in our lives. Once a definition is found, letting things go will become much easier. Whether it be events, people, or items scattered about our closets and basement, once we understand what defines us, we’ll begin to understand what doesn’t.