As the first days of spring creep up upon us, many of us emerge from our winter hiding places, take a good look around us, and decide that it’s time we knuckled down to the obligatory Big Spring Clean. We find shelves of unread books, wardrobes crammed with unworn clothes and lives generally swarming with clutter, and we decide things just have to go.
Yet, when it comes down to actually getting rid of stuff, some of us have the hardest time throwing away things we haven’t even looked at in ages.
Why we can’t let go
The reasons why we treasure and hoard all this stuff aren’t too hard to figure out: as we go through life, working hard, progressing from one thing to the next, the things we acquire en route serve as our trophies and token reminders; the things that tell us we’ve made it, that we’re doing okay, that we can afford to buy stuff and keep it in our nice house.
That said, the very fact that you’re reading this article suggests you know something else about the actualities of owning lots of things, which is this:
It can be a really big pain.
“The things you own end up owning you” – Brad Pitt as Tyler Durden in Fight Club
The more things you own, the harder it is to keep them all organised and tidy; the less organised and tidy you are, the more you’re likely to to feel as though your life is less organised and tidy; and the less organised you feel in life, the more stress you’re likely to endure.
But what if, despite knowing this, we still struggle to get rid of the things that are bogging us down? Thankfully, there are three simple steps to letting go of our old possessions for a better spring clean.
1. Be honest
More often than not, the one thing stopping us from getting rid of something is that we lie to ourselves about how much we really need it.
We convince ourselves that 10 pairs of shoes is an entirely necessary amount, and that our lives would somehow be incomplete without that box full of old books stored in the closet. To better let go of our possessions, it therefore pays to be entirely honest with ourselves and ask:
- Do we really need it?
- Will we ever actually wear/use/read/watch it?
- Will our life be worse in any way without it?
Answer these questions honestly and you should have an easier time of eliminating the excess from your life.
Another key problem for chronic hoarders is the emotional attachments we form with the most random of objects.
Of course, nobody would suggest you sever all emotional ties to your family heirlooms or photo albums, but there are certain things which, in the grand scheme of things, probably mean much less to us but to which we can’t help but become attached to anyway.
Using our first step and getting really honest with ourselves, ask what it is about a particular object that makes us so compelled to keep it. Is there another way we can get the same feeling or memory that this thing gives us without cluttering our house?
3 Help others
One of the easiest and most satisfying ways to spring clean involves giving things away to people who need them more than we do.
We could donate our books to the library, or our old clothes to the Salvation Army store. By doing so, we’ll be doing something good for others, which in turn will make us feel really good.
Surely we’re all prepared to sacrifice a few things for the sake of feeling better about ourselves and the space around us, which is, of course, the real reason we started this Big Spring Clean in the first place.