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The Psychology of What Causes Us to Have a Hard Time De-cluttering

The Psychology of What Causes Us to Have a Hard Time De-cluttering

Think about the last time you tried to go through your home, and get rid of a few things. If you’re like most people, as you started to go through your stuff, you brought up a lot of memories. Perhaps you found things you haven’t seen in years, or even decades. Before you know it, you and your family are reminiscing over all the things you found, and you end up with a bunch of open boxes and bags no longer ready to part with anything. Therein lies the reason so many people have a hard time de-cluttering – it’s the emotional attachment to things that keeps us surrounded by clutter.

 

The National Center for Biotechnology Information reported on a study related to hoarding and neural mechanisms. The study found that people who hoard things have an emotional attachments to the items they are keeping. Yale University did a similar study that found that letting go of stuff triggers pain spots in the brain because we’ve attached ourselves to our clutter.

 

The idea is that because we paid for something, or it has sentimental value, we feel pain if we feel we must let it go. In fact, this is why you should not let yourself spend too much time going through items you are considering letting go of. As soon as you spend too long with an item, you will re-attach yourself to it.

 

If it’s going to be painful, how can one ever get rid of anything? Here are some quick tips that may help:

 

  1. Set a timer and go through your items quickly. For some people, being up against a clock can negate the emotional attachment.

 

  1. Give the items to someone you know will care for them. Sometimes the joy your foresee another person receiving from your stuff can help you feel better about letting go.

 

  1. Place the items you should let go of in a box, and date it. If you haven’t opened the box in a year, keep it shut, and give it or throw it away.

 

  1. Take a digital picture of the item. A lot of people keep things because they don’t want to forget what it looked like. A great example is an art project their child did when they were young. Taking a digital picture allows you to keep the memory, but let go of the clunky clutter.

 

  1. Have a friend de-clutter with you. Having to justify why you want to keep something to another person can often help you realize you don’t actually need it, allowing you to let it go.

Now, we’d like to hear from you. What are your favorite ways to de-clutter?

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