How to Declutter & Let Go of Stuff Without Feeling Guilt

Today I want to talk about how to declutter without guilt. I have experienced a lot of decluttering guilt: many times when we start decluttering, we think about the time, the money, the energy, the many years that we have stored an item, and who has given it to us.

All those different things affect our decision on whether or not to get rid of things. Let’s talk about how to declutter and let go of stuff that you might have been keeping for a while.

My decluttering journey

I have been decluttering for about four years at this point. I am 57 now. As I was decluttering, I discovered that many things ended up in my house but they were not even mine. I raised six kids, and many times they moved and they would store things at my house.

Apart from that, many things have been given to me over the years, especially stuff for kids, so I assumed I would use them at some point and saved them over those years.

Let it stay a bit longer

During my decluttering process, I have had light bulb moments when I suddenly realized something and thought - why did I not think of this sooner?

The reason is that I was stuck in that mentality of saving, preserving things, storing things, finding a use for them, and saving them for someone else that might have a use for them.

Different towels

We have been using the same towels for 30 years. Some of them are a little tattered and frayed, but they are still usable. Meanwhile, I have a brand new set of towels just waiting for me to open it.

I kept rationalizing not pulling out the new towels and continuing to use the old towels, and yesterday I suddenly thought: why have I not just swapped those out?

I should be using the new towels and if I really need to save the old ones, I can just save them while enjoying the nice new ones. Later on, when I finally do not feel this need, I can part with them.

It is great to use up what you have, but when I already have the new stuff and I am not spending money on getting the new stuff, I should be using the new stuff. I want you to give yourself permission to keep what you want to keep and let go of what you want to let go of.

Many times, we feel pressure that things will never leave our house, and we beat ourselves up for not being able to let go of them because of the memories or responsibilities attached to them. However, we need to give ourselves permission to keep what we want to keep.

If there is something that we are not ready to get rid of just yet, at some point we probably will be. That has happened to me many times. So get rid of what you are ready to get rid of, but if something cannot leave your house right now, it does not have to.

Sorting items to declutter

Do not be scared of new things

Just because you are decluttering does not mean that you do not deserve to have a few new things. I have gotten rid of thousands upon thousands of items, and every now and then, I will feel a little bit of guilt if I want to get myself something new. I feel like I cannot bring anything else into this house, as it will ruin my process.

The other day I found some pajama pants on sale. I do not have any, and they really might be nice to have for the winter, but I had a hard time letting myself buy them. Realistically, however, I have let thousands of things go, so it is okay to bring a couple of items in if I feel like I could benefit from those.

How to let go of things and declutter what you used to value

I used to collect lighthouses and shot glasses from my travels, so people would give me those when they traveled, too.

Today, however, I do not collect them anymore, and I do not want them cluttering my house. Therefore, I went through them I picked out my favorite shot glasses and lighthouses, and I got rid of the rest.

I thought that getting rid of them would cause me stress, but it actually took an unimaginable weight off my shoulders. It was such a relief to know that I do not have to dust around them, store them and find shelf space for them anymore. My house immediately looked much cleaner.

How to declutter and let go of stuff

Benefits of decluttering

Opening up space by decluttering feels amazing, but many times, we are opening up our time, which feels even better. I used to clean frantically every time someone was coming over, up until when they pulled up in my yard.

Now when they tell me that they are coming I may wash up the last few dishes in the sink, do a little vacuuming, sweep the floor, and I am done. That has been such a huge relief that time has opened up. I have evenings that are open, days that are open, and my entire Saturday is free.

I am not spending all of my time getting the house in order anymore because it is in order at any given time. I can open my door, let my guests in with a smile and feel good about that.

I think that the key understanding you need in order to declutter without guilt is that it is okay not to be sure about some of the things yet, and to leave them in temporarily. It does not mean that they are not leaving your house. It just means that today is not the day.

How to declutter and let go of stuff

What has been your most important decluttering revelation? Is there anything you have to remind yourself of in order to avoid decluttering guilt? Leave a comment down below and share your experience!

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2 of 6 comments
  • Carlotta Carlotta on Jun 04, 2023

    😉 Get rid of cardboard boxes, critters love to set house in them. If you need to store things in boxes, stick to plastic with lids and label everything. Only use if you're short on space, not to keep memories, or you defeat your purpose. You could select a cabinet to keep precious items and rotate occasionally. And keep like things together, because it helps to have a clean, organized home with less effort. 🏡

  • Beverly Beverly on Jun 23, 2023

    Great ideas. I have tried to part with things and got really depressed. Then other times I felt really good. The trouble I have is I know some things cannot be purchased any more or be as good a quality. There was a house fire near me so I happily took “surplus” items to them. Also I like the idea of one in and one out.