Here are the main offenders when it comes to hanging on to things:
• No Clear Vision: We don't have a clear vision of what our homes and lives could look like without all this stuff everywhere. Without that vision we just want to hang onto things. Look at Benita's organized shelves. How good would you feel it that's what you were able to come home to?
• Just in case we might need it later. This keeps us tiesd to the past and doesn't leave room for the new. Take note of what you actually use now. Those things should stay, the rest should get a closer look.
• Identity: Often we hang onto things that remind us of who we were or who we wish we were. Obviously it's not our goal to throw everything out, but to be thoughtful about what we're keeping. A friend of ours is currently going through old journals and is open to letting go of as many as she can. We're inspired by her willingness to let these things go in favor of making room for what's to come. She'll be the same person whether she hangs on to the journals or not. But she'll have more space if she lets them go.
• Status: Are you living the way you want to or the way you think you ought too? Is one eye out on how everyone else is doing it? We at apartment therapy have been trumpeting that Small is Cool, but it's certainly not the main stream opinion. Are you happy with your stuff, or has it become a burden?
• Safety: Especially in times of financial stress (or emotional stress) we want to nest and make ourselves comfortable. That might mean bringing more stuff home, picking up that chair we found on the alley that we could totally refinish (except that it will take us months to get to it) and generally building clutter back up so that we feel that we have 'enough'. But remember having less can often mean having more.
• We've inherited the habit and the stuff: Maybe you're never lived clutter free, or maybe you just inherited a bunch of stuff that you can't find the time to wade through. Don't be afraid to ask for help, and remember that babysteps do add up to a huge change. Start with your biggest clutter spot and make some progress, you'll be shocked at how much better you feel.
For more on the subject, we highly recommend checking out other resources like the book Clearing Your Clutter With Feng Shui by Karen Kingston. It changed our lives and got passed around to all our friends a couple of years ago.