Stuff + Shame || Decluttering Roadblock #4
Updated: Mar 1
This blog post is part 4 of a five-part series presenting decluttering roadblocks (plus solutions) for guilt, fear of failure, volume, shame, and time.
Shame runs deep.
I'm going to repeat that: shame runs deep. Shame is like an infection that infiltrates your mind, body, and soul. When it comes to stuff and shame, we might feel discomfort or even humiliation when we try to declutter.
When we come to terms with our past decisions but we want to live with less, the intersection may bring tears. But these tears are good. They are a release of the emotions that are holding us back from decluttering.
Two years ago - yes, it's been years that I've been decluttering now - shame was an emotion front and center. Shame held me back but also made me able to realize the role it played in past decisions.
Have you heard the expression: you cannot see the forest through the trees? Well, I couldn't see the shame through the stuff. That may be the biggest lesson after decluttering thousands of things.
Becoming a minimalist takes time. When the thing we want is greater than the thing we have, we can beat the shame associated with stuff. For me, I wanted a life with less anxiety and stress that stemmed from too much stuff and that was a greater need.
Why Decluttering with Shame is Difficult
Facing shame and releasing it could be harder than actually letting go of stuff. The shame of spending money on unnecessary items. The shame of not even knowing what you own but continuing to buy things. The shame of debt. The shame from not being comfortable accepting friends and family into your home.
I HAVE BEEN THERE.
I still connect with the emotional scars shame leaves behind when it gets released. That connection reminds me of what it feels like to overspend. Today, a monthly budget (reviewed weekly) keeps me honest and connected to the gratitude I feel from saving.
How to Beat Back the Shame
Replace it with gratitude. For me, replacing the shame with gratitude for saving (instead of spending) helped. Now, it feels better to save.
Accept that messes are inevitable. Life happens. Houses are meant to be lived in. As you begin to live with less, the messes will become easier to clean up. Read more about my advice about messes in this article on Apartment Guide: 11 Experts Explain Minimalist Principles to Maximize Your Life.
Recognize the "job" shame can perform in your life. Decisions while shopping in the future may be adjusted once the feeling of shame is beat back but remembered. Avoiding that feeling again can deter unnecessary spending.
Decluttering with shame is difficult. Facing those emotions and releasing them could be harder than actually letting go of stuff. Ask for help and support along the way.
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