I think I spent my childhood and teen years preparing for an audition for the TV show Hoarders… I saved EVERYTHING. Why? I’m not sure, I think I was trying to hold onto things as if I got rid of it it would disappear from my life. Control freak much? One year, there was a tearful garage sale when I discovered that my precious My Little Ponies were on the table for sale. It was not pretty. While I am much better at letting go of my things, it is still a struggle. Can you relate?
This past weekend I cleaned my closet. I love clothes, purses, and shoes so my closet can get a bit hectic. Pair that with bags and boxes of VHS tapes, burned CDs, art supplies, miscellaneous computer cables, art projects, and cards from loved ones, I had/have a big collection.
How do I get past my need to save everything?
- Recognize that you are not your stuff – Things are tangible representations the fun we had at a concert or on vacation. The ticket stub is just a piece of paper. Pictures can be preserved but best in an album, scrapbook, or on your computer (with a back up in a safe place). I know I don’t look at photos when they are in an unorganized box. You are not your stuff, it’s ok to let it go.
- Someone else can use it – Really. Donate old clothes so someone else can wear them, donate work and dress clothes to Dress for Success. An organization that provides professional attire for disadvantaged women. Set up a yard sale with neighbors or join eBay. Big items such as furniture can be sold on craig’s list or donated to Good Will. I find it much easier to part with something when I know that someone else can put it to good use. That makes me happy.
- Organize it – If you have stuff, organize it. When you get like things side by side you can prioritize what to keep. If you have 3 white sweaters, look at them together and try them on at the same time. Now you can decide what to keep and what to donate. Keep what looks great on you and nothing less. The only exception is if it is a functional item which serves a real purpose. A thick, heavy sweater for a cold blustery day is good to keep on hand. I know I really only need one of these.
- Scrapbook it – My girlfriend, Amanda, is a scrapbooking queen, I’m jealous of her dedication to it. She puts all of her pictures and memories in a book together. Having it all in one place helps to relive the memories. If you have all of your memories in one place, all of the extra stuff isn’t necessary.
- Stop it before it starts – The best junk to get rid of is the junk you don’t take home. A few years ago I made a resolution to only collect Christmas ornaments as vacation souvenirs. They’re small, and seasonal. So far it’s working. I try not to take papers or books from concerts and shows. I try to only buy clothes that I really like, fit me well, and look to be durable. Big sales are great but if I buy something I do not love, it will not be worn. And then I’m just wasting money.
Do any of these tips help you feel better about getting rid of things in your closet? Here’s one last tip if parting ways with your beloved stuff is too much to bear.
- Make a Transition Box – Sort out the things you want to keep but haven’t used in a while. If you feel that you must keep this stuff but don’t have a need now for it, commit to putting it in a box for 6 months to 1 year. If you need it, take it out to use it but if you do not need or use the items in your box within your specified time period, you take that box and give it to Good Will. Say goodbye to the stuff and hope it has a long happy life with its new owners who can use it.
Does that help? It helps subside the anxious feeling I get when I think about parting with things. I know that if I don’t use it by the time the next season rolls around I probably won’t use it. And if I do want to keep it, I will find a way to use it.
Do you have a hard time parting with your things? Please share your tips below. I’d love to hear your ideas. Check back on Thursday when I share the process I went through when cleaning out my closet. I find that having a system is so so helpful.