It’s just an old pair of jeans. That’s what I told myself every time I saw them, and I knew they had to go.
Turns out though, they were far more than “just an old pair of jeans”.
When we did our “Big Declutter” a few years ago, the closet was the first place I started decluttering.
I cleaned out bags and bags of clothes.
I pulled out clothes that were too tight, too lose, well beyond repairs and way too unique to realistically wear on a regular basis.
The Big Declutter also lead to creating a minimalist-ish capsule wardrobe.
A year after our big declutter, we moved homes, and those old jeans…they came with us!
They immediately went onto the shelf, and then they sat there two more years.
More than just jeans
Those old jeans were more than just a pair of pants.
They were designer jeans I spent way too much money to acquire. They were super soft. They were worn in. They were long and beautiful.
Those old jeans were also too tight after having babies. The length was too long after I gave up wearing high heels and converted to tennis shoes and hiking boots.
Those old jeans represented a past lifestyle when I worked outside the home and put more emphasis on fashion and money-making than anything else.
Keeping clutter that makes us miserable
Those jeans made me miserable. I felt overweight, out of shape, frumpy, and old every single time I looked at them.
If clutter makes us so miserable, why do we allow it?
We hold on to clutter because we are scared to let go. We are scared of what’s on the other side, as it is unknown.
However, there’s no reason to be terrified of getting rid of clutter.
Once we get rid of clutter, we feel lighter, freer, and have space to breathe.
We let go of the emotions tied to our clutter and start with a blank slate.
Clutter is heavy.
3 Ways to Rid the Weight of Clutter
1 – Recognize what you’ve already “let go”
Most of us don’t enjoy clutter. We don’t enjoy moving around piles of stuff, attempting to squeeze a couple more inches onto a shelf, or stepping around the messy stacks on our floors. In fact, we often hate it.
We are often scared of letting something go when in reality, we’ve already let it go.
Those old jeans, I knew I would never fit in them again. Yet, I kept them to remind me of a time when I was thinner, wore fancier shoes, and had a life that was revolved around just me.
Letting go of those jeans didn’t make me forget that prior life.
Instead, letting go of the clutter allowed me to remember that prior life with fondness, rather than feel miserable every time I looked at what I considered a keepsake from another time.
Chances are, you have clutter you’ve already “let go”.
You have items sitting on a shelf, buried in a box, or (gasp) sitting in a storage unit.
You’ve already made a decision to not use that clutter. Yet, you hold on to it for some reason.
Recognize that clutter just hanging out, going unused, and do yourself the favor of letting it go. Chances are, you’ve already physically “let it go” simply by not using it.
2 – Find a healthier way to remember
Many of us hold on to clutter as a way to remember, but really, it torments us rather than soothes us.
I challenge you to find a healthier way to hold on to memories.
Maybe you have an old heirloom you could display or give to another family member, rather than bury in a box.
Maybe you have all your clothes from a smaller size that isn’t unattainable after birthing children and growing a couple of decades into an older, more mature version of yourself.
Maybe you let go of love letters from a failed marriage that make you cry tears of misery rather than help you remember the good times.
Maybe you let go of a hobby or craft you no longer enjoy but you feel guilty over all the money you invested.
Maybe you let go of photos of old relationships or filled with memories that make you miserable.
Maybe you donate a wedding dress for an angel baby.
Maybe you take some old clothes from a deceased spouse and have them made into a special quilt before you let the rest go.
Maybe you let go of baby gear knowing another child is unlikely and focus your energy on the next exciting adventure.
Let the weight of all that clutter go. Give yourself space to breathe.
3 – Worse case, conduct an experiment
If you really can’t bear to part with something you know isn’t healthy to hold on to, at the very least, conduct an experiment.
Take the items in question and put them in a box. Then, put that box in your car trunk, the garage, or a storage closet.
Next, set a calendar reminder 2-6 weeks from now. I think 6 weeks is a really long time, but sometimes that period is needed to prove a point.
If in 2-6 weeks you haven’t missed those items, there’s a good chance you can let them go without regret.
Think about the weight of that clutter. Think of how it was lifted when out of your normal living space.
It’s no longer tormenting you, teasing you, and telling you that you are a failure, you win over clutter!
Lift the weight of your clutter!
Just recently, years after decluttering our home, those old jeans made it to the consignment store where I got $20 for them. (Remember, they were super expensive designer jeans, which was another element of guilt I had with just letting them go.)
You know what? That $20 bill felt way better than the weight of holding on to those jeans.
No longer did they torment me. No longer did I feel any guilt or shame for not fitting in them.
Instead, I had $20 in my pocket and haven’t had a moment of regret since I let them go.