top of page

5 emotional reasons leading us to clutter

In my previous blog, we have identified what clutter is but today we will find out some common reasons leading to it. As they say it prevention is better than the cure, lets cut the clutter at the start of it. Very often it’s our emotional ties with our possessions and thoughts of overwhelm that are the main things holding us back from de-cluttering.

I don't claim to have all the answers but I’ve noticed some common themes, and I'm betting many of us can relate to it too. However, I've found when I voice my fears and emotions it helps me think about them more clearly, and come up with a solution that will work for me. I hope this can help you too.

So let’s talk about them, think about them rationally, and hopefully work through some of them together.

Objects holding memories from past

1. Sentimental value – your own sentiments

The most common factor which doesn’t allow us to de-clutter is that an item holds sentimental value, so we don't want to give it up.

The first thing to ask ourselves is, what's making us get rid of it?

· If we've got room for it

· If we are able to access it often to help us remember that wonderful and special memory, than it's not clutter.

This means if you don’t have space for it or you’re unable to appreciate its value, then probably it isn’t as sentimental as you think it is and it’s time to make some tough calls about what is important to you

· The object of possession, or

· The available space and mental peace.

Gifts of unwanted - unused - unloved stuff

2. Gifts – someone else’s sentiments

Many a times we receive gifts and greeting cards from friends and family, whether we like it, want it, use it or not, we still like to keep collecting it so we don't hurt the gift giver's feelings or rather want to respect their feelings.

However, the cumulative effect of this act may lead us in a situation where we have got lots of unwanted stuff which is makes us feel unhappy about our home and which we may never use it nor like it. So for our own peace and sanity in the home, the question we’ve got ask is, what is important

· The object of possession, or

· The available space and mental peace

We need to remember that we’ve to treat ourselves nicely too and for that we need to separate our feelings for the person vs. the object itself. As we are able to differentiate between these boundaries, it becomes easier to let go of the objects and still be able to value the feelings of the giver.

Accumulation of scrap and supplies that keeps reminding of unfinished hobby project

3. Symbol of incomplete dream or nostalgia

Another very emotional reason is when those objects symbolize some type of dream we want to hold on to in our lives. For example, someone may not want to get rid of lots of craft supplies and they know they haven't touched in years, but they keep holding on to it because they dreamed they would use it someday. In fact what it does, is that it keeps reminding them that they don't have time, desire, and/or talent to do those crafts and this is not a happy feeling to get associated with. So it’s time to ask ourselves, what is important to us

· The object of possession, or

· The available space and mental peace

If you’ve heard this Zen proverb, "let go or be dragged." This process can remove a layer of guilt and emotional baggage you may not have even realized you were carrying around, and lets you feel that peace you’re looking for.

"What if I'll need it" objects

4. Price value – fear or doubt of “what if” I need it and it can’t be replaced

Sometimes thinking about getting rid of an expensive object we've bought can seem crazy. And then the “what if’s” – what if I need it someday? What if I can’t replace it? It had costed me a lot. We’ve all got to get our head around this thought, keeping the object will not bring the money back. The practical advice is, if we haven't needed it for a year or two, we most likely never will need it. Further, not everything is useful even though it costed a lot of money. Keeping objects that are clutter just because they’re expensive takes an emotional toll by robbing us of our time, space and more money. Did you know, clutter can costs us as we spend time taking care of it, cleaning it, insuring it, storing it, and paying for the space it takes up in your home?

Again, what is important to us

· The object of possession, or

· The available space and mental peace

However, there may be more to the mental and emotional reasons we feel this way about certain pieces of clutter. Instead, I think it comes from a fear of not having enough, which is more primal than just wanting to be a mass accumulator of things. I think this fear and emotions come from not having enough trust within ourselves. Think about it in this way, if we could replace the item with a couple hours of time, let it go.

Forgiving of ourselves for past money mistakes, or accepting that not everything continues to have a high value over the years, will allow us to get past the emotions of it, and actually help us part with the object without guilt.

Feeling of overwhelm and frustration

5. Feeling of overwhelm and reluctance to begin

Sometimes the feeling of the sheer volume of the project ahead can be quite overwhelming and when we feel overwhelmed, we don't even feel like starting, that’s natural. I know, because I've felt that feeling before. But I can assure, we can overcome this feeling by breaking down the tasks into smaller, bite sized chunks. This makes it seem less stressful and more doable.

Further, these are just a few common emotional reasons people often experience while de-cluttering, but there could certainly be more. So let us give ourselves some time to think about the feelings and emotions we go through before we begin de-cluttering. Just the sheer awareness of our emotions shall bring down the effects of it and we will find more energy as we start de-cluttering.

Related Posts

See All


bottom of page