Is Your Home Too Cluttered? Start by Throwing Out the Guilt

heart-268151_640You’re successful in many ways, you value order, and you deserve a serene home. But you just can’t seem to get rid of the junk that is cluttering your living space and preying on your peace of mind.

What’s the road block?

If you’re like many of my clients, it’s Clutter Guilt.

What is Clutter Guilt?

Clutter Guilt is a group of feelings (fear, guilt, sadness) that subverts your reason and keeps you from getting rid of possessions you’d be happier without.

Like all guilt, it is sneaky and destructive. You might not even realize you’re feeling it. But it affects your behavior and the result is a home that is not the efficient, comfortable refuge it should be.

My clients generally have three types of Clutter Guilt:

  1. Sentimental Guilt (I’m a bad person if I get rid of Grandma’s dishes)
  2. Thifty Guilt (I’m wasting money if I don’t keep these things to sell)
  3. Green Guilt (If I throw this junk away, I’m destroying the Earth!)

Let’s bring these ideas into the light of day and examine whether they deserve the importance we give them. Are they rational reasons to continue living in clutter?

Sentimental Guilt

Do you have heirlooms that you don’t like and don’t use but can’t bring yourself to get rid of? You are not alone. Sentiment is one of the stickiest reasons to hold on to things, so let’s tackle it first. And don’t feel anxious. You don’t have to give anything away right now — or at all — unless you are sure you want to.

All I ask is that you consider a few questions.

  • If these possessions are causing you stress and inconvenience, is that really the way you want to remember your loved one?
  • Is your love strong enough to allow you to hold on to the person’s memory without holding on to their possessions?
  • Would it be a better tribute if these possessions went to someone — even a stranger — who would enjoy them?
  • Does your loved one, up there among the morning stars, really care if you keep these things? Or would she rather you have a nice, uncluttered home and joyful mind, free of guilt?

It’s your decision whether to keep heirlooms or not, but just remember: You’re not throwing Grandma away, you’re donating her dishes.

Thrifty Guilt

Do you have a lot of things you could sell? Does it seem like a waste to just donate them or throw them away when you could make some money? Everyone needs money, after all. Why not just hold on to these valuable things and you’ll get around to selling them on eBay?

Here’s my pro tip based on my experience as a home organizer: nobody ever gets around to selling their stuff.


What happens is people gather things to sell, live among boxes, put off selling those things, get frustrated and then eventually get fed up and let me donate their stuff for them.

It’s not that my clients are lazy or incapable. It’s that selling on eBay is a job. My clients can’t be expected to learn and master a new job just to de-clutter their homes.

There’s nothing to feel guilty about.

So why not make things easy on yourself and cut out the unpleasant middle part of the scenario everyone goes through? Gather the things you want to sell–and donate them.

Green Guilt

Do you have things that aren’t even worth donating but that you don’t want to throw away because it isn’t green? That’s a very kind and understandable way to think. We’re constantly made to feel guilty just to be alive.

But the damage is done.

The junk has been created and it’s here on Earth — whether it’s in your home making you miserable, or whether it’s in the landfill.

If you want to save the Earth, get rid of that junk, and in the future don’t buy anything unless you need it and have a place for it. Let your Zen home remind you of your new resolve to live more gently upon our planet.

If, you’re of a more Machiavellian frame of mind, thing of it like this: You bought those things and they exist to serve you. If they can serve you best by living at the municipal landfill, then send them there.

Would You Like Some Help?

If you’re in Silicon Valley, I invite you to call or email me and set up an initial consultation. I can help you sort, cull, donate and organize. Soon you can start living the organized and inspired life you’ve been secretly hoping for!