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How To Dissolve the Fear That Is Stopping You from Decluttering

Fear is a powerful thing.  It can paralyse you, have you questioning yourself and even hold you back from taking action on even the smallest things.  Most people would associate fear with a racing heart and sweaty palms, but fear is clever.  It can present itself in many different ways but probably most commonly, it’s that big, old mental block that stops you from even starting the thing that you are afraid of.  Maybe you don’t even realise it’s fear that’s putting up excuses and barriers to you actually taking the first tiny step forwards.  Perhaps it’s fear of forgetting someone, fear of wasting money, fear that you might need it one day or fear that you might not fit into that outfit in the future.

The emotion of fear is a natural human emotion but boy, can it be super challenging to overcome it.  This complex feeling is there to protect you, but it can also show you a path that you could choose to follow to growth and change that will open new doors for you. 

I can remember a time when I experienced such profound fear that it kept me stuck for years even though I knew, deep down, what I needed to do.  It was after I had been teaching for quite a long time, and slowly, slowly, the idea began to form in my head, that I needed to move on from the career that I had dedicated myself to since I left university.  I loved my job, but I had reached the point where I could have the biggest impact, and it still didn’t feel like enough.  But I was terrified.  My identity, my worth-they were completely entwined with teaching, and I had no idea what to do next. 

Now, let’s be clear.  I recognise that fear of leaving a job doesn’t seem to be the same as the fear of decluttering but fear is fear, no matter what you are conquering so the same steps can be used to overcome it.  Why do you need to give fear a kick to the curb when you are clearing the clutter from your home?  Because, on the other side of that fear, is something great.  It might look like more space, a home where you can find things when you’re looking for them or areas that are much easier to clean.  But don’t let that fool you.  The real reasons that you need to overcome this fear will present themselves as you go through the process.  Maybe it’s a new job opportunity, the chance to have host a special occasion, a new relationship or something else completely that holding onto too much stuff has been holding you back. 

So, I’m going to share some of the ways that helped me to overcome my fear when leaving my career in the hopes that they might help you along your decluttering journey, too. 

1) Call it what it is

When you are feeling fearful about making decisions about any of your things, just acknowledge that fear.  There’s no shame in the emotion and recognising and naming it gives it a bit less power over you.  Take a moment to sit with your feelings, maybe even say them out loud.  And be kind to yourself.  It’s okay to feel this way when you are trying to declutter but when you call the emotion what it is, it can make you curious and then you start to ask questions.  That’s where the real change starts to happen because you bring an awareness to your thoughts around things, and ultimately, this does help with letting items go.

2) Think back, way back

Fear is not a unique feeling.  It’s been in your life before, maybe recently or maybe long ago but it has definitely shown its face before.  So, try and think back to a time when you felt fear about something.  Identify a certain event or situation that you were in that caused you to feel afraid.  Now, that part isn’t going to help you much, but the next part will.  What helped you during that experience that was helpful to you?  Was it an action you took or maybe words you told yourself? If it has helped you in the past, it can do it again.  Whatever presents itself to you, see how it can be used to support you now in this difficult time of decluttering. 

3) Find your truth

So, you’ve decided to declutter.  Lots of people have.  They get started, they make some progress, and then everything grinds to a halt.  That’s not how you want this to go for you.  You want to make the changes, you want life to feel a bit easier, you want to be able to find things.  These are really important, but you might need to dig deeper on this one because that’s where the fear is hiding.  So, you’re getting rid of some stuff.  Why does it matter to you? Space, time, calm-blah, blah, blah.  All good things but is that the real reason behind wanting to clear your clutter?  I bet it isn’t.  Be really honest with yourself.  Have you changed over time, and although you’re ready to embrace who you are right here and now, letting go of the old you is scary?  Is there some closure that is needed, a fear of moving on?  Are you tired of never feeling on top of things, and there’s a fear that this is as good as it gets?  Is there deeper happiness on the other side of the clutter if you just tackle that fear?  Find your truth.

4) On your marks, get set, take one, tiny step!

Fear can be overwhelming, even crippling.  It stops you in your tracks and makes sure that you just don’t carry on.  But fear is an emotion about the unknown so by not taking any steps, you are giving fear all the power to keep everything in that unsure, grey area.  So, here’s how you deal with it.  You decide one teeny, tiny step that you can take to get started on that clutter.  The end goal doesn’t matter at this point because you just want to make things better.  Say you have a great, big pile of papers sitting on the kitchen counter, and you decide to give yourself just five minutes to make that pile better.  By putting a time frame in place and being realistic with yourself that you are just getting started, it breaks the process down, and it doesn’t seem as monumental anymore.  Making the one pile a bit better will be enough to boost your confidence and keep your momentum going to do the same another time.  It’s not about perfection, it’s about getting started each and every time.

5) Rewards

It’s okay to feel afraid sometimes but it’s when that fear stops you from taking actions that it becomes a problem, and you don’t want it holding you back in your own home.  One of the key things to overcoming fear is to see the rewards on the other side of it.  I don’t mean the more obvious ones like clear spaces or easier to tidy.  Although these are good, they just aren’t exciting enough to keep the motivation going long term.  So, the real rewards need to excite you in a way that fires you up.  Do you have dreams of entertaining your friends in your lovely home?  Do you imagine yourself having somewhere that you can actually do a hobby that you never get time to do?  Think hard about what is waiting for you after you’ve squashed those fears, and life is better is the best ways.

Decluttering is hard work, and when fear is coming up for you during the process, it can really stop you from making the progress you desire.  Following a few tips along the way can make all the difference.  First, you need to recognise that what your feeling is fear and be okay with that.  Then use your own personal resources from past experiences when you overcame fear and use them again.  Next, discover the REAL reason behind getting rid of the clutter.  Remember to take really small steps along the way so that you are always succeeding. Finally, make sure you have a big, juicy reward for all the work it’s going to take to get to the vision you have for your home.  You can kick fear out of your way-no excuses now!

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