Today I gave a clutter busting talk at a local library. It's funny how those go. I open the talks to questions right away. But people are shy at first. I think the idea that things are important and must not be let go of has a hold over people. But then I start telling stories of how people's lives suffer under clutter, and they start to relate, and they get bold and start opening up about their own clutter situations.
A woman talked about being completely overwhelmed by the guilt over tossing anything in her home. I got her to mention the first thing that came to mind. She said she owned a lot of jars. She didn't want to throw out any of the empty ones because what if she needed them. I asked her how many she owned. She thought about it and said 12. I asked if she let go of six empty jars would she feel okay. She considered it and calmly said yes. I suggested that she was very sensitive and to be easy on herself when letting go. Rather than think in terms of getting rid of everything, she could pick a smaller amount. The great thing is, it will allow her to let go of things. There's no perfect clutter busting. Whatever we can let go of is good because it will bring us some relief.
Another woman said she had a lot of clothes that no longer fit her. They took up a great deal of her closet and chest of drawers space. She'd been hanging on to these clothes in case she lost weight, but they made her feel claustrophobic in her bedroom. I asked how that was going. She said she was exercising but not losing weight. Someone in the audience suggested she get rid of the majority of the smaller clothes and keep only a few of her favorites in case she lost the weight. The woman asking the question felt she could do this. Again, it helps to find what works and follow it. Then we start letting go of the things whose presence makes us feel unhappy and we feel the benefit of more open space. Plus it opens up the space for new things that can benefit us to come in.
Someone asked what should be done with things that are clutter but are worth money. I suggested two things. One, if someone is not inclined to sell something, then donate the item. I've met a lot of people who say that something is valuable and they want to sell it, but a few years have gone by and it sits in their home and makes them unhappy. They would get more peace of mind by giving it to a charity. Second, they can sell it on ebay, or find an antique dealer, or auction house that would help them sell it. The main thing is not to use the excuse that some piece of clutter is valuable as a reason for keeping it. Your peace of mind is more valuable than the possible worth of an item.