You are currently viewing Decluttering Is Hard: Here’s Why

Decluttering Is Hard: Here’s Why

Ready to ditch your clutter this year?

You know, the piles of unmanageable paper thrown across the corner of your living room table.  The piles of unmarked boxes nearly teetering over in your no-room-for-a-car-garage.  Even the piles of unworn clothes that litter the darkest farthest corners of your closet.

Decluttering can be hard, because it’s about more than just stuff.  It represents indecision, identities and procrastination.  But even though it’s hard, the results are completely wonderful and worth it. 

So, this article will prep you for the emotional roller coaster that may result when you get serious about your decluttering.

The truth is, there will be challenges along the way that will make you want to quit.

But when you expect them as part of the process, you’ll learn from instead of avoid them.  This allows you to grow as a person while you heal your home.  You’re not the only one experiencing this, decluttering is an inside job for all of us!  Please, be kind to yourself and simply stay open to the opportunities for growth.

You’ll be amazed at how clearing your living space will help you clear emotional and mental clutter too.  It’s all connected, and it’s all incredibly important work.  When you stick with it through the ups and downs and challenges, you’ll be rewarded.  Get ready for a lighter, easier to manage and supportive home that you’ll LOVE living in.

Below I’m covering 5 tough emotions related to clearing clutter & how to handle them.

1. Fear

Let’s begin with fear because it’s the underlying theme in everything discussed today.  Humans often fear change, and that’s exactly what you’re doing when you clear away clutter. 
Your belongings have energy and they have at some point formed your past identity.  So, removing clutter can feel like removing a part of you.  But I promise, you are a whole, beautiful and enough.  Your things don’t define who you are.
How to deal with fear: If you feel a tightness in your chest when you think about decluttering or while making decluttering decisions – that’s your body signaling fear.  Start by taking a deep breath and feeling the ground under your feet or your bum on the surface that you’re sitting on.  You’re supported.  You’re safe.

Then, remind yourself of why you’re doing this.  What is the carrot on the end of the stick that will keep you going?  Less debt?  More room in your home to create? Don’t lose sight of the joy you’ll create by removing stressful clutter from your life.

Clearing Affirmation:  I’m safe, supported and loved

2. Attachment

This is the most common challenge I hear from my readers and clients.  It can be paralyzing.  Attachment sounds like “What if I need it someday?  What if I regret donating it?  What if …. ? “

Ask yourself this: what’s the worst that could happen?

Chances are, the answer is you may need to buy it again or borrow from someone.

Then what?  Will you still be alive?  Will you still have your freedom?  Your friends and family?  Anything else you hold dear?  The answer is always yes.  Letting go poses no threat to you.  In fact, it will most often provide an experience of sweet freedom once you do so.

Clearing Affirmation:  I let go with ease

Still struggling with clutter?
Find out why!


3. Facing Your Own Impermanance

Do you ever think about the fact that you won’t always be on this earth?  You might cling on to what was and fear that it will all go away one day.  But nothing is forever, including you.  

We’re now seeing a whole generation who collected “things” struggle to pass them onto to others or worse, family members who have to clear out whole apartments, homes and storage units after a death.

I know this seems morbid for a decluttering blog post, but it’s wildly important.  Facing this universal truth in an honest way is taste of freedom that will help you declutter and let go. 

It’s healthy to think about: the fact that nothing lasting forever.  You have a finite time on this earth, do you really want to spend time taking care of stuff you don’t even love? 

Clearing Affirmation: Nothing is forever, and that’s okay

4. Guilt

Do you put your needs behind those of others?  This habit is usually formed in your childhood, and you may even be proud of it.  But guilt can overload your schedule, brainpower and home when you can’t say no. 

Let’s look at gifts, as they’re a common form of clutter guilt.  We fear if we donate a gift, we’re terrible people.  It’s just not true.

How to practice guilt-free purging: start by decluttering non-dramatic items that you’ve kept out of guilt.  It might be a souvenir magnet from Hawaii that you don’t use anymore, or the gifted Christmas coffee mugs that you never took out of the box.

Note how your body feels when completing this task.  If your chest gets tight or your mind begins racing about what a bad friend/daughter-in-law you are, pause and take a deep breath.  Remind yourself that you’re a good person and that your decluttering has NO direct impact on your relationship with the person who gave it to you.

After a few days or week check back in within yourself.  How’re you feeling?  The sky didn’t fall when you donated that gift after-all.  Now try again with another item!

Clearing Affirmation:  I am a good person.  My needs are important.

5. Comparison & Jealousy

As you look for inspiration for your clutter clearing efforts, you’ll find your way to Pinterest or Instagram. 

This is can be equal parts inspiring and de-motivating.


When you’re overwhelmed at how good someone else’s home and life look, you may feel like giving up. 

But what you don’t see is the styling, prepping and cleaning the professional organizer or blogger did before snapping that picture.  

Also, keep a close eye on the lighting in before and after photos as well.  Ever notice how the “after” photo is bright, light and much more appealing?  This is often done with a technical photography product called a pre-set.  Anyone’s home would look better using a pre-set!

Scroll with intention: Stay centered in your why and be realistic.  Social media and blogs are filled with best-of, highlight reel, photo shoot level inspiration.  Your home doesn’t need to look like that to be clutter-free, organized and easier to live in.  

Keep doing the work.  Visualize what YOUR unique space will look like at its best.

Clearing Affirmation:  I release jealousy + embrace my own imperfect life

5. The Never-ending Belief of Not Good Enough

If you struggle with “not good enough” in your life (um, hi me!), it will definitely show up in your clearing journey. 

But getting sucked into this judgement robs you of the joy of celebrating the progress you do make!  I promise you that small, consistent efforts will lead to great accomplishments overtime.

Try this:  Write down your progress and make note of small milestones as you clear.  It’s way too easy to forget how far you’ve come if you don’t have a record of it.   You can also keep track of your progress by posting pictures in The Clear Your Life Community on FB.

Clearing Affirmation: progress over perfection 

The Challenges Are Worth the Rewards

I hope this post has given you practices and mindset shifts to help you through even the toughest emotions of clearing your clutter.  With a bit of mental prep and these small exercises, anyone can create more space in their life with ease. 

Which example do you identify with the most?  Tell me in the comments below.

Find out why your home is still cluttered.

Most people struggle with one of three common challenges when clearing clutter. But once you understand what’s holding you back, you can create a peaceful, calm & inspiring home you love.

Take the quiz below to uncover your #1 clutter challenge and how to overcome it!


This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Mary

    Excellent, excellent article. We used this article in a clutter group I belong to.

    1. Jen

      Hi Mary, thanks so much for taking the time to comment! I’m glad this article was helpful, I think this side of decluttering isn’t talked about enough. The emotional side is tough!

Leave a Reply