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What Drives Us To Keep Clutter

If I’m being honest, the path to embracing a more minimalist lifestyle has been a long road for me. Even now when I work with my home organizing clients, sometimes I am so impressed with their bravery in letting something go, it makes me wonder about some of the more questionable items I’ve kept in my life and whether or not they truly are adding to it.

Accumulating and keeping items for the someday we may need them has a real psychology to it that for many (myself included) is often based out of fear. What if one day, my whole life comes crashing down and I need this thing to survive!

Growing up as one of four children under an income that was stretched to the limit at times, these fears are deeply rooted for me. However, the reality is that (thankfully) I always had clothes on my back, a roof over my head and food in my belly. I had things money couldn’t buy, like two parents that loved me and siblings whom I was thick as thieves with. There were times when my parents, in the early days, didn’t know where our next meal would come from, but the community they built around them always came to the rescue.

When I started to have money of my own, it was a relief to be able to buy what I needed (or wanted), when I wanted it. When friends would pass on items they no longer needed, I accepted them with open arms. I was living with a scarcity mindset, which is a dangerous and anxiety-inducing place to be.

Also, it’s not based in reality. We have so much power within us to get out of bad situations. We are resourceful and creative. If we look around us, we have people in our lives that would never let us fall through the cracks.

As I write this, I am thinking about the two irons I currently have in my small New York City apartment. One was my husband's, from before we moved in together, and one was mine. I had carefully researched my iron, wanting it to be small (it’s travel size) and I love it as I do all my things. My husband’s one request was that we keep his iron, since we had let go of so much of his stuff once we merged apartments. Seven years after this conversation, I still haven’t been able to part ways with my iron even though any space-saving advantages I had in getting a travel size have been negated by owning two. Even more embarrassing is that we barely use either of them. My husband prefers to hang his shirt for the day in the bathroom to let the steam from the shower relax any wrinkles they may have and I use my handy (yes, travel size) handheld steamer on my clothes.

Why have we kept both irons (mine in particular)? Because the psychology of feeling like we need more than we actually do is hard to break.

Our lives truly are better with less. Today I am finally donating mine. There is someone out there I’m sure who may actually need it (but do they really?). I know I do not and the space I’ve been hoarding it in will feel so much better.

PS: Let's connect. In the world that we live in right now, we should all feel calm and stress-free in our spaces as much as we can. Out with the old, in with the new you.



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