April 29, 2022
min read

Why is it so hard to part with things we don't need?

Letting go can be hard for many reasons. Understanding them is the first step in decluttering your space.

Team Mercari

Have you ever found yourself struggling to let things go? You’re not alone. According to a 2015 survey, 54% of Americans feel overwhelmed by clutter. More shocking, 78% of those people felt they didn’t know how to address the problem. Understanding the reasons you hold onto stuff is the first step towards learning how to get rid of things you don’t need. Let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons why letting go can be so hard. 

Good feelings

Our possessions have a powerful effect on our emotions. They can make us feel a proud sense of ownership, reflect our interests and identity, and even take us back to a treasured memory. When an object is tied to a good feeling, giving it up can seem like losing the feeling itself. Leaning into this discomfort is key. Imagine what it would feel like to let go of the object, then experience those feelings. You may find these emotions are not as big and scary as you thought. 

When letting go of nostalgic objects is really hard, try taking pictures of them. That way you can keep the memory without compromising your space. 

Gifts and guilt

When someone gives us a gift we’re not crazy about, it can still be hard to part with it. We can feel guilty for not keeping it, even if we have no use for it. Letting the gift go can feel ungrateful or disrespectful when that’s far from the truth. Your lack of love for the gift doesn’t equal a lack of love for the gifter. It’s possible to be grateful for the gesture and still let the gift go to someone who will really use it.

Photo credit: People Images

Grand plans

Sometimes we keep things with the best intentions like using crafting materials for a big project or upcycling clothes into new styles. There’s nothing wrong with making plans for your possessions but we do have to be realistic about it. We need the self-awareness to know how likely it is we will actually do what we planned and recognize that we may have taken on too many of those plans. 

Fear of need

“What if I need it later and it’s not there?” That’s a pretty common question we ask ourselves. Being afraid of needing something and not having it is normal. Feeling wasteful when you replace something you used to have also makes a lot of sense. But what if we thought of a clear, decluttered space as something we also need? Which do we need more–the object or the space? You’ll find the answer is usually the latter. 

Photo credit: Creative House

Never enough time

When we look at a cluttered space, we may immediately think of all the time and energy it will take to go through everything. Not only is this overwhelming, it can make us feel defeated before we even start the process. The good news is that it’s not a race! Just 15 minutes in your day can make a difference. Clearing out one drawer is progress. We can find we have more time than we think when we take baby steps towards a larger goal.

How do you deal with letting things go? Share your advice with our community on Twitter at @mercari_app.

Main image credit: Ketut Subiyanto