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Dealing with the Guilt of Stuff

Dealing with the Guilt of Stuff

Zero Waste Lifestyle

Last Updated on April 2, 2020

I’ve been cleaning out my closet. And, for any of you who know me, you know how difficult this is. (See last post about the 10 year old sweater.)

I was the girl in college who you went to for dresses: from recitals to mixers, I had you covered… I counted once, I had over 200 dresses. Yikes.)

It’s so hard for me to part with things because I associate memories so closely to what I wore… or really anything. I deal with so much guilt in parting with things.

Common reasonings being: “I don’t want the person who gave it to me to think I’m ungrateful,” “I spent a lot of money on it,” “someone else spent a lot of money on it,” “what if…,” and “I don’t want them to be upset.”

I suffer from the guilt of stuff.

Maybe you suffer from it too? You desperately want to declutter, but there’s so many things you can’t seem to sell or donate. I’m here to say, it’s OK.

The KonMari method really helped me. You acknowledge your things, like a going-away party. You say thank you, you think about the nice times you had, and then you say goodbye. This helped me get rid of a lot of my guilt.

I enjoyed the pieces, we had some great times, but they’re just not working for me where I am currently. A lot of my closet is not set up for the California weather. Being from the South, I’m used to it being hot or cold… not both in one day.

Remember, your memories are not attached to things. They’re attached to you. That’s a pretty liberating realization.

I’m working on whittling my closet down to a year-round 72 piece capsule wardrobe. I’m half way there. I have a huge donation pile, and a much smaller pile for really nice items to sell. These are just a couple of pieces.

 I have lots of Lacoste, Theory, Donna Karen, JCrew, Burberry, Kate Spade.. pretty much any preppy designer. I like classic clean lines with a boho flair. It ranges from gifts from the family, to things I saved and saved for. All of these pieces brought me so much joy, and I have such good memories from them, but It's time they got a second life.  I have lots of Lacoste, Theory, Donna Karen, JCrew, Burberry, Kate Spade.. pretty much any preppy designer. I like classic clean lines with a boho flair. It ranges from gifts from the family, to things I saved and saved for. All of these pieces brought me so much joy, and I have such good memories from them, but It’s time they got a second life.

I also realize, I don’t take nearly as many pictures of myself as I used to take. (Which I think is a good thing.)

Instead of focusing on filling my closet and empty spaces, I’m now focusing on pieces and things I truly love. Things that have a function. Things that can be repaired and mended. Things that are practical and versatile.

I don’t want to be a part of a throwaway society. I want my things to matter and have purpose.

Do you struggle with the guilt of stuff?

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  1. That is a lot of dresses lol Great job paring it down, I have been doing the same with my wardrobe…I even cleared out some pieces from early high-school 🙂

  2. Nice article. I’ve been doing the same for the last 6 months and now it became so much easier. KonMari method helped me too. I want to be surrounded by beloved stuff only know, it includes prospect new ones. Not shopping without purpose anymore 🙂

  3. I’ve tried everything. I just tried the backwards hanger thing. After a year, all of the hangers are turned forward, and my closet is still stuffed to overflow. I capsulized my seasons, and it didn’t make enough space. I’m at a loss.

    1. What helped me was to try Project 333 and live for 3 months with 33 items. The rest, I just packed away – I did NOT get rid of any of it! I kept track of what I wore and how often (cause I was blogging about it for work) and for the first month, I had way more stuff. Then after one month, as I realized I could do it, I included more categories and restricted my access to my stuff even more. I’ve gotten rid of a LOT of stuff since then, and it really helped open my eyes and change my approach to things! It’s a slow process. It’s not something that happens overnight, and you have to be gentle with yourself. I think the problem with the hanger turning thing is that as soon as you know you’re testing yourself, we tend to just go I’LL WEAR IT! One modification that might help is having to wear something twice. I find that it just flat-out doesn’t work for me. I wear most of the stuff in my closet…but that doesn’t mean I LIKE it. The best thing about P333 for me was that I learned that I can wear only my -favourites-…all the time! It was a revelation. So now it’s been way easier to get rid of stuff that I don’t love, because why would I put up with that? I’d rather have fewer things and actually LIKE them all,than feel guilty about not wearing or wearing and then disliking a bunch of items.

      That said…if having a lot of clothing genuinely brings you joy? Maybe you don’t need to downsize there. Maybe start somewhere else if you want to generally declutter but clothing is tough for you. For many people it’s the easiest spot to start, but not for all. Maybe books, or cosmetics, or kitchen things, or hobby supplies, or papers, are easier for you in the decluttering process!

      Good luck! You can do it!