When I started my journey of decluttering, I rarely heard people talking about over-decluttering. The majority of us have trouble letting go so it’s only sensible to give a lot of advice on how to declutter. But sometimes we can go a bit too far or we move too fast. So if you were ever wondering if you should stop decluttering or if you aren’t sure on how to continue, I want to share my experience of how I over-decluttered and then found the balance that I live with now.
When I started decluttering our house more than five years ago, we had a lot of stuff. And I mean a lot! So it was really easy to get rid of broken items, expired products, stretched out and damaged clothing, etc. It felt amazing. So I continued doing it and every time I decluttered, I felt lighter and freer. I loved it!
But as time passed, I became fixated on it hoping that it would somehow provide me with that same lightness I felt in the beginning. I also noticed that I would find the smallest reason to get rid of something even though I was still using it. And then I came to the realisation that, as with shopping, we can declutter for the wrong reasons.
So here are the four biggest signs that you should press pause on your decluttering and rethink your journey:
1. YOU’RE DECLUTTERING ITEMS YOU FREQUENTLY USE
To be honest, decluttering can give us a bit of a high – almost as much as shopping. We feel our lives are going to be so different and our space feels lighter and we’re full of hope. And that is great! But if you start decluttering items that you use just for the sake of getting those feelings of excitement and hope then it’s time to sit down and re-think so that you can understand why you’re so keen to declutter? What are some changes you’re hoping to get out of this? Take your time and dig deep – once you have the answers, you can then decide if your goals are something that you can achieve by decluttering or not. This will help you create a plan of action that is in line with your goals and which will give you a better chance of achieving them.
2. YOU FEEL DEPRIVED
Feeling deprived is a big no no when it comes to minimalism even though we can mistakenly think that because others live with so little then we should aspire to do the same. But that is their life and they have different needs plus we never really know how they truly feel about it themselves.
So if you believe you’re restricting yourself, take a deep breath and ask yourself ‘Are you listening to yourself or are you doing it for someone else?’. Maybe you want to belong with other minimalists out there or you want to prove how simply you can live? But those are not the right reasons to be a minimalist – you should be doing it your own way and adjusting it as you go so you never feel out of balance. Allow yourself to own as much as you want – it is your life.
Don’t make a decision for someone who doesn’t have to live with the results.
3. YOU’RE REPLACING ITEMS YOU’VE DECLUTTERED
This is a huge sign that you should stop decluttering. Yes, some people can put everything in one bag but that doesn’t mean you should do the same or that you would benefit from that anyway. Decluttering takes time – it may look simple on the outside, but mentally it’s a process that needs its time, so keep in mind that every time you change something you need to give yourself the necessary time to adjust to the change before moving on to the next one.
I was decluttering so much I had only three black handbags at one point; one for work, one medium one and one small crossbody bag. I was convincing myself I don’t need anymore so I should be fine. But eventually, I added another one. And another one. All because I didn’t listen to myself in the first place and I truly wanted to live as minimally as I could. Now I know I don’t need permission from anyone to own what I want to own – if I use and enjoy the things that I own, I’m good.
4. YOU WANT PERFECTION
Minimalism is very transformational and it can change our lives in so many different ways – we can feel calmer and less overwhelmed, our house is tidier, we have less stress and more energy and attention and we’re more able to focus on the things we want etc. The list is long.
But it’s also important to know that it won’t magically change things overnight. I mistakenly concluded that if I become a minimalist and I follow the process step by step then I will be completely happy. I believed in a perfect version of minimalism and the peace that would come with it, so I even got rid of items that I frequently used which, with hindsight, seems stupid. But back then I really thought that the majority of my problems such as being overwhelmed, doubting myself, my feelings of emptiness etc. would disappear and yet they didn’t – minimalism made them a lot better but they were still there.
So I had to work on myself to understand what and why I was thinking about certain things so I could let them go because decluttering alone wasn’t enough. Of course, decluttering can help us feel lighter and calmer which creates space for us to really work on our thinking and our habits which, in turn, means we can live an intentional life. But there is no perfect destination that we arrive at – only learning and doing our best and that is why it’s essential to enjoy our journey and not rush towards the end-goal.
Minimalism changed my life in so many ways and I would recommend it to anyone, obviously. But as with every change we have to pace ourselves and more importantly, listen to ourselves – that is how we stay balanced and happy.
I hope this post gave you some insight into over-decluttering, so you can adjust your journey if necessary and avoid feeling unbalanced. I would love to know what some of your experiences and thoughts on this subject are 😉