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Decluttering Mindset – Trick Your Brain into Loving Decluttering!

If you live in the western world, chances are, you are part of a consumer society and have consulted Google for help decluttering on more than one occasion. The truth is, decluttering isn’t just hard, it’s literally painful for most people. Without changing your decluttering mindset, you’re almost certainly doomed to fail at tackling your clutter again and again. Let’s deep dive into some mindset hacks to make decluttering easier!

Decluttering Mindset

Decluttering Mistakes

The biggest mistake I see in the decluttering process is that we so often approach it with this punishment mentality.

We’re ashamed that we’ve accumulated so much stuff and feel that we are now paying the price with our time (not to mention money we spent buying all of it) to try to dig ourselves out of this mess.

This guilty mindset will only leave you feeling bad about yourself, destroy your motivation, and leave you susceptible to stress-shopping to temporarily relieve some of your pain.

Instead, we need to adjust our thinking to a positive decluttering mindset.

We’ve realized that the things we own are no longer benefiting us and we’re excited to move on with less baggage weighing us down.

We’re releasing the excess back into the world so someone else can benefit from it.

See how those two mindsets are completely different?

Which is more likely to drive you to continue making improvements in your home and in your life?

Feeling like a screw up that wasted money on crap you don’t use or need?

Or feeling like someone that is finally figuring out how to appreciate the things you need and is helping others by giving away things you don’t need.

Clutter is Physical AND Mental

Without tackling the mental payoff you get from purchasing and owning more “stuff”, you’ll never actually declutter your home.

You may get rid of a drawer full of things, but this only helps your decluttering goals if you have a plan the next time you’re tempted to shop for a dopamine rush.

To change this mindset shift, you need to practice by doing something equally rewarding the next time you’re tempted to therapy shop.

Take some time to really explore the things that trigger the same satisfaction as shopping.

For some people, it’s doing something creative like bullet journaling. For others, it might be scrolling social media.

If you choose social media, be sure you have a list of accounts that actually benefit your life in some way instead of scrolling stressful or chaotic posts.

Something about gardening tips if you are into that or accounts that post beautifully organized spaces.

My best tip is to hop on Pinterest or Instagram and search for images of organized spaces.

Nothing will motivate you to stay on course with decluttering quite like admiring the work of others that have already done it.

Fear of Decluttering

Accept that replacing items is easier than you think.

When I’m on the fence about getting rid of something, the real fear behind it isn’t actually whether I’ll need the item again.

It’s whether I’ll be able to get the item again if I realize it was something I actually needed.

We live in the land of Amazon Prime, Facebook marketplace, and yard sales.

If you really need to get a product again that you regret getting rid of, there has never been an easier time in history to do it than right now.

Feeling Guilty About Decluttering

Realize that buyer’s remorse doesn’t actually add any funds to your bank account.

I love the Minimal Mom on Youtube. 

So much of what she says really resonates with me.

This video in particular really struck a cord with me and I think about it almost daily when I get rid of random things.

She wittingly makes the point that keeping something in our house just because we spent money on it doesn’t actually add any money to our bank account.

Instead, we’re essentially continuing to pay for our mistake by allowing that item to rent space in our homes for free.

The Price of Clutter

Another great point brought to me by the Minimal Mom was about the waste associated with not decluttering.

Let’s say you have a basement full of things you hope to use someday and never part with any of it “just in case” you need it.

Then a flood comes, or a product breaks in storage, or any number of things happen to ruin the things that have been cluttering your home.

That once perfectly good kitchen appliance or piece of furniture is now ruined instead of being used by someone that could really appreciate it.

Buying Security with Clutter

Something that I’ve realized as an adult is how much insecurity is caused by decluttering.

In my mind, if I had all of these things, I was much less likely to ever have to go without.

The same with my kids.

If we had dozens and dozens of outfits, I felt secure in that we would never have to know the pain of not having clothing.

Tons of food in our pantry meant I could feel secure in having enough food to sustain my family.

There really is this underlying fear that living a true minimalist lifestyle could open my family up to not having enough of something down the road.

If anything, 2020 and beyond have only justified these fears in my mind.

While I still strive to be as minimalist as possible, I now allow myself to keep a few extras…and that’s okay.

Leaning into the fears and entertaining them to a point is okay.

The strength comes in knowing where to draw the line.

Learning to Appreciate The Important Things

Accumulating lots of possessions temporarily tricks our brains into thinking we’re happy and secure.

The way to retrain your brain away from this toxic mentality is to use neuroplasticity to your advantage.

Neuroplasticity is basically the ability that your brain has to create new connections as you learn new things or create new habits.

The saying “old habits die hard” is true.

Our brains learn to run on autopilot by creating connections in response to situations we face again and again.

Luckily, in practicing new ways of thinking, our brains create NEW connections which makes those practices easier and easier over time.

This is how new habits are formed.

We can use this in so many ways in creating new mindsets.

We can learn to stop and enjoy our children instead of picking up our phone for a quick hit of brain drugs from social media scrolling.

We can stop buying things to create a feeling of stability and instead create real happiness and financial security.

Whether you’re looking to just declutter your home a bit or embrace a completely minimalist lifestyle, it all starts with mindset. I hope these tips for cultivating a decluttering mindset help you as much as they’ve helped me. What mindset shifts have you successfully made? How? Let me know in the comments!

woman happily decluttering