We’ve all been faced with this issue when we’re going through our stuff, looking to declutter. There are always the easy things to part with, but there are the challenging items that we’ve previously covered such as gifts, inherited items and items we feel we should keep only because we bought them or they are worth money. There is another type of item that challenges our rationale which is, “But it’s still perfectly good.” Maybe we feel this way because we paid for it and we don’t want to be wasteful with our money or maybe it’s because we chose the items and we feel responsible for it so we keep it out of guilt. Either way, we are then obligated to our belongings and they are controlling us. That is no way to live. Although the guilt lends an emotional aspect to the stuff, it’s also our desire to be practical and objective that tells us to keep something that’s perfectly good. BUT is it perfectly good for you and perfectly useful to you? Is it doing what it’s supposed to do for you when you use it or look at it?
A great example are these 2 sweaters I used to have years ago (before I worked as an organizer). There were both chosen by me, purchased by me, nice quality Merino wool, almost year-round wear, well- fitting, etc. Essentially all the right reasons to buy and keep something. I would wear these sweaters to work, over and over again. I would put together cute outfits around them, one outfit is still a favorite to this day! But I felt horrible each time I wore those sweaters. The first one made me feel like a football player every time I wore it. It was not a chunky sweater by any means, but it made me feel like I was wearing football pads because of the way the shoulders and neckline were cut. Each time I wore it, I’d be complaining to my coworkers about how I looked like a linebacker. Not a confident, positive or productive way to spend my day. The other sweater was a perfect fitting camel colored turtleneck and let me tell you, I accessorized that outfit to a T. But every time I looked in the mirror I felt like I looked pale and even ill. Again, I wasn’t feeling my best, nor was I projecting my best self. What a waste! All because those sweaters were still ‘perfectly good’ so I continued to wear them. I was not being good to myself, to my coworkers, to the people I encountered, I was wasting time worrying about how I looked and felt…all because of those sweaters that I should never have worn a second time.
One day I decided how I felt about myself was worth more to me than the hesitation I felt about parting with ‘perfectly good’ sweaters that I had chosen and paid for. That day was empowering. Although I’ve always been organized, it doesn’t mean I don’t have my own challenges with my stuff. And along the way, before I started my business and up through today, I continue learning about the different ways our stuff affects us and the constant conversations and negotiations we have with ourselves around keeping or parting with it.
If you find yourself thinking, “But it’s still perfectly good,” then remember to ask yourself:
- Do I need it?
- Do I use it?
- Does it make me happy?
- Does it have a positive and functional purpose in my home and life?
If you can answer any of those questions with a , “No” then let it go! Realize it will do more for you to part with the item than to rationalize your way into keeping it where it will continue to wear on you.