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  • Writer's pictureErica Lucas

How to Declutter When You are Afraid of Failing || Decluttering Roadblock #2

Updated: Mar 1, 2023

This blog post is part 2 of a five-part series presenting decluttering roadblocks (plus solutions) for guilt, fear of failure, volume, shame, and time.

Decluttering stuff from your home, your car, and your life feels good. It's like a clean slate and starting an area over without clutter. We hang onto clutter for many reasons (here are 21 of them). Clutter can be one thing or many things gathered haphazardly. Two solutions can alleviate the stress and anxiety created by clutter: decluttering or finding a home in your home for it.

Sometimes when we decide to declutter, we have to admit we failed at something. Fear can hold power over us. Facing the fear of failure while decluttering can be a roadblock to letting go of stuff. Allow me to share some examples of facing the fear of failure while decluttering that I have faced myself.

If I get rid of these smaller-sized clothes, then I am a failure for not losing weight. If I get rid of these larger sized clothes and I gain weight again, I will have failed at keeping the weight off and staying healthier. If I get rid of this fabric and craft supplies, then I am a failure for not completing my projects and for not using them. If I declutter these mugs from the kitchen, and I don't have them when guests stay, then I'm a failure for not being a good host. If I declutter these toys, then I'm a failure to my kids as a mom.

Progress can be halted by decluttering roadblocks.


What is a decluttering roadblock?

A decluttering roadblock is an emotion or thought that prevents you from moving forward on your decluttering journey.

Maybe you are spring cleaning or you have a routine of getting rid of items from your home a few times a year. Maybe you are working on living with less on a daily basis. Regardless of the frequency you declutter, you can come up against a decluttering roadblock.

Let's review a few examples of roadblocks:

  • guilt

  • fear of failure

  • shame

  • volume

  • time

Decluttering Roadblock: Fear of Failure

In this blog post, we are diving deep on acknowledging the fear of failure as a roadblock to decluttering successfully (meaning it's been permanently removed from your home).

Letting go of an item can feel like a loss for some people. It felt that way for me in when I first started extreme decluttering and understanding minimalism. What if I needed it someday? But I spent money on it!

Yes, it's just stuff but facing the fear of failure when letting go of an item is difficult. There are steps you can take to declutter when the fear of failure haunts you.

- accept yourself

- love yourself

- think positively

- recognize that the failure is perceived and not real (oooh, this one's hard)

- find AND SEEK successes instead

Accept Yourself and Love Yourself

You deserve to be happy. I write that often on this blog, and it's a lesson I learned while pursuing minimalism. If something is not making you happy, dig deep on that feeling and try to pull out of it. If a shirt doesn't fit, it's silently mocking you from your closet, anyway. You don't fit into me! You failed! Or maybe your inner voice is a champion for you and chants "you will fit into me someday so keep me!"

But that's not happiness TODAY. Focus on what makes you happy today.

Think Positively

Think about what happens after you donate an item that is holding you back. The shirt you donated is sold a thrift store and brings someone else joy. The fabrics you donated are used to create pillowcases for sick kids in hospitals. You are giving forward to someone else while releasing yourself of an item (or many items) that are holding you back.

Failure While Decluttering is Perceived

The fear of failure while decluttering is perceived. It's not real failure. Donating fabrics for projects you hoped to make does not mean you are a failure for not making them. You had great intentions but the project does not bring you joy now. Donating a shirt that is too small does not mean you a failure for not losing weight. You are making space in your closet for an amazing shirt that does fit and makes you feel fabulous today.

Find AND SEEK Successes Instead

When emotionally processing the fear of failure, it can help to recognize the opposite feeling to get through it. If you fight depression, recognize the wins. You got a shower today and made yourself some breakfast. That's a success. You have a shirt you love wearing already in your closet. That's a success. You found a mom who needs toys for her kids but does not have money to spend. You gifted toys to her. That's a success.


Decluttering when you are afraid of failing can be a big roadblock to break through. We want to be successful. Envisioning what success would look like as a result of decluttering may help. You have open space in a room after donating all unused crafts. Your kids play longer and with more intention with the toys you kept. You got this.

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FTC Disclaimer: Please note that some links may be affiliate links, and I earn a commission from your purchase. These links share products at no extra cost to you. I may receive some products in exchange for my honest review. My opinions are my own and are not influenced by brand, person, or company.

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