3 Mindset Shifts That Will Help You Finally Throw Out Your Unneeded Things

published Sep 9, 2021
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Apartment Therapy

You’ve probably heard the famous Marie Kondo phrase, “Does this spark joy?” And while this works amazingly for some when it comes to deciding what to declutter and what to keep, others have a harder time. For me, almost everything sparks joy; I’m basically a golden retriever. I see an empty jar and I get frantic with the possibilities behind it. Then I have 30 empty jars sitting behind my cabinets.

Luckily, there are other methods and mindsets out there that may help you finally throw out your unwanted junk. We talked to pro organizers, psychologists, and wellness experts to get their smartest tips. 

Live (and Declutter) in the Present

Thinking about whether you’ll ever need something can get complicated. Thinking about whether something is currently adding value to your life? Much simpler. “This lets you be free of the “past” or the “someday” items that clutter up all our homes,” says Natalie Wise, a “modern lifestyle philosopher” and five-time author.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Does this provide value on a regular basis?
  • Would my life change (for better or worse) if I didn’t have this?
  • When was the last time I used this?

Define the Emotional Attachment

Another approach is to dig deep and really think about why you’re holding onto something. “It’s important to determine what the emotional attachment is to the item,” explains Dr. Craig April, Ph.D., Director of The April Center For Anxiety Attack Management in Los Angeles. “Keepsakes are one thing. Clutter, based on unhealthy attachment, is another,” he adds.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • What emotions does this evoke?
  • Why I am holding onto this?
  • How would I feel if I let this go?

Think About What You’ll Gain

We often think about what we’ll lose by letting go of something, but says John Sovec MA, LMFT, a therapist and coach in Pasadena, California, often the exact opposite is true. “Many people feel that the objects they surround themselves with prove the fullness of their lives,” he explains. “They are trying to cling on to memories of the past to fill a current loneliness,” instead of focusing on “the freedom of letting go and the unlimited possibilities of growth.”

Questions to ask yourself:

  • What am I releasing inside as I let go of these things I have collected?
  • What exciting opportunities await me as I release the weight of these objects?
  • What people, experiences, relationships am I making room for?