I’ve been having lots of online and offline conversations lately where I am asked HOW I STARTED DECLUTTERING.
I think what we miss when we look at checklists of things to remove from our home is the MINDSET that is required to make it effective.
How does mindset impact your decluttering?
Before I became a life coach, I thought the mindset was nice to talk about but probably a bit woo-woo. I didn’t see the connections between spotting an underlying belief (for example ‘I’m not a morning person’) to how it actually gets played out by you.
As I learned about cognitive therapy in life coaching, my mind was blown at how what you think becomes your reality.
This is because our thoughts drive our feelings. Yes, if I think “I’m not a morning person”, I will never feel inspired by the idea of mornings or feel motivated to wake up early.
And since we are human, and motivated by feelings, then these feeling drive our actions/inactions. When I feel uninspired and unattached to mornings, then I will slog out of bed in the morning, I will never attempt to wake up earlier and I will embrace my night-owlness.
The result is I AM NOT A MORNING PERSON! (and I buy myself the mug to solidify this belief!)
This is why I think it is so important to focus on the mindsets that we have about decluttering.
We need to investigate what we think about getting started, why we want to do it, how much believe we have in ourselves to accomplish it and so on.
In my experience with life coaching women on this topic and decluttering my own home – I think there are 3 mindsets that can be very common hurdles to getting started with decluttering.
I want to break down some of them here and offer you a mindset shift you can try for each one.
3 Mindsets to Shift Before Decluttering Your Home
1. Decluttering is a chore I don’t have time for
I grew up in a cluttered home. I was in constant interaction with boxes and boxes, and piles of paper. It became part of my scenery.
All the while I felt overwhelmed by it and embarrassed by it. Before I knew what minimalism was, I knew I didn’t want to have a home that would elicit these feelings in me – yet we were still finding ourselves with rooms full of ‘stuff’, and I wasn’t decluttering anything.
When I read the Joy of Less and learned what minimalism was, I suddenly felt like I had permission to live in a different way. I could see the opportunity to live in a new way that sounded freeing. Less stuff owned meant less cleaning. Less stuff wanted meant less hustling and spending. I could feel this bigger vision for what I wanted my home to be for me and my family and was being motivated by it to take action.
In the past, I had always viewed decluttering as a chore. It was work to go through all those boxes in the basement, and there was other ‘more important’ work I could do instead. So it wasn’t getting done. I had no motivation to declutter until I had a vision and a ‘why’ for myself.
My ‘why’ was this drive to rehaul how I was living in my home with my ‘stuff’. My ‘why’ was to create an atmosphere in my home where my kids had SPACE to play, create, imagine. My ‘why’ was to create a place that was inviting to anyone who came to our door.
MINDSET SHIFT: Decluttering is an action I take to create the space I want to live in
2. I have enough of everything, I don’t really need to declutter any ‘excess’.
Before I had even heard about minimalism I feel like I had always been practical enough about how much we accumulate and buy the kids. But, when I look back, I realize that we were saturating our home with stuff and our life with the work required to keep buying more stuff. Stuff was becoming a burden and I didn’t even realize it.
I felt like we had enough, I was happy with my 43 forks, and 17 coffee mugs, and 12 pairs of jeans. It felt like enough to me. I couldn’t see it was too much.
As I started decluttering I felt overwhelmed, not necessarily with the decisions on what to keep, but more on the number of decisions I had to make. There was just so so much stuff that I had to go through. I thought we had ‘enough’ stuff but we were just disorganized.
Actually, we had too much. (and we were disorganized). After all, we had enough stuff in our basement to furnish my niece’s living room and enough doubles in our kitchen to help her get stocked there too.
When I started decluttering and was face to face with how much stuff I had bought that I didn’t like or didn’t need or never have used – I got this achy knot in my stomach. All that money that I spent, all the time I spent shopping, all those things I thought I needed.
I just stood in rooms full of boxes and said, this is enough. Enough.
I have more than enough. I have enough clothes (that I never wear), and kitchen gadgets (I never use), and books (I never read), and why do I have like seven half-used conditioners and four curling irons in the bathroom??…you get the idea.
MINDSET SHIFT: Decluttering will help me determine what I do have enough of and where there is excess I can let go of
3. I’m a victim of my home
This one is a sneaky one but it creeps into our brains and tells us that we are not in control, that we are not responsible for our home.
We see it is there when we start blaming others for our home or complain about all the demands that pull us away from managing our home, or if we get home and feel that tension of being in a space we feel is chaotic or unmanageable.
I was a professional mom martyr, so I definitely added in the woes of home management into my tale of how I was a victim. At one point I even thought the home itself was the problem (there is no door here, or closet there, or shelf there! how can I work with this??). I would often search homes online in the area and pitch them to my husband as the only reasonable solution.
Really, I just didn’t see the control I truly had over my space and over my life. Even more, I didn’t see that it was my responsibility! I looked to others to take on these roles instead of stepping up and taking control of and responsibility for my own space. Nobody else was going to do this for me!
When I started decluttering, my big goal was to clear space, and then once that space was clear it felt like a clean slate to create the home we wanted. We have invested in the long game of decluttering and creating spaces that we love and our kids love. I will say now, that I truly love my home (the same home I was so eager to move out of so many times). I would never have had the chance to create a home I love until I decided to put myself in the driver’s seat and do something about it.
MINDSET SHIFT: I have the right and responsibility to create a home I love
Decluttering can feel like a huge overwhelming project that you will never get to the bottom of. It can also feel like something you want to avoid and shirk and wait for someone else to take the reigns. But when you get clear on what you want, why you want it, and decide you will put yourself in the driver’s seat you can make serious change in your space and life. You can create the home you love, it is always possible!
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